Newfound appreciation

I’ve never been entirely happy with my body composition. From the first time a friend called me fat in first grade–not in an insulting way, just as a comparison, “Meg is fatter than Susie”–I’ve been self-conscious about my weight, and nervous about the way that other see my body.

It didn’t help that I came of age in the 90′s, when baby doll shirts and low-rise jeans were popular. They looked amazing on the girls in the Delia’s catalogs, but when it came to my body–my long torso, my B-belly, my wide hips–they looked terrible. The cap sleeves made my long arms look gangly, the short tops emphasized my belly, and the low jeans let my muffin top hang out. (I apologize to all the many people who I flashed with my plumber butt. I didn’t know how to shop, and belts didn’t help due to the cut of the jeans.)

After college I started working out and wearing more flattering clothes (thank you, high-waisted boot cuts, for saving my dignity), and I felt a major difference in my self-esteem; however, the body parts that had always been problematic–the long torso & wide hips–were still there, just surrounded with less pudge. So much of my body was changing, as my face narrowed and arms jiggled less, but at the end of the day, I had the same long arms, long feet, and lumpy belly; I was just learning how to dress more appropriately for my body.

Fast forward to a happily married me (who on her wedding day wore an uncharacteristically form-fitting dress that emphasized the long neck & de-emphasized the belly) who got pregnant. And as this little life started to grow within me, something else started to grow too: a newfound appreciation for the body parts that I used to detest.

Years ago, at a routine visit, my gynocologist offhandedly remarked that thanks to my tall frame and long torso, it would take a long time to show when I got pregnant, and that my wider hips would come in very handy for childbirth. (I’d always thought of the phrase “childbearing hips” as a trite thing to tell fat girls, but it was nice to know from a professional that there was something to the platitude.)

I found my doctor’s words to ring frustratingly true; as my pregnancy progressed, nobody could tell. Even my husband and mother said things like, “If I didn’t know better, I would never guess you were pregnant,” well into my third trimester. I tried to look for the silver lining–less belly meant less back pain and more ability to continue my yoga practice, right? But secretly, I wanted some of the attention and sympathy. I wanted somebody to offer to carry the heavy box instead of needing to ask for help.

But eventually that bump started to pop (as they always do) and I looked around at my group of fellow pregnant women and realized a few things:

  • The long torso prevented me from getting terrible heartburn until 32 weeks, because there was enough room for the uterus to keep growing up before hitting my ribs. (It also looks much better in long-length maternity tops, I might keep some of those in the rotation for longer than I should.)
  • The wide hips don’t have the nighttime aches & pain that so many of my friends were experiencing, because they didn’t need to get any wider. They were already plenty wide and sturdy.
  • The long feet make it easier to balance and continue to walk longer distances … albeit at a slower pace than I used to. (I know they might swell eventually, but I’m just hoping they don’t increase in size permanently. Size 11′s are hard enough to find as-is.)
  • The B Belly is still sort of a B belly (with two separate areas and an indentation at the latitude of my belly button), but it’s starting to round out into more of a D belly, looking especially round with full-panel pants to smooth everything out.
    And I don’t even mind wearing tight fitted shirts on my belly right now, because it’s showcasing a feature instead of hiding a flaw. I know I’ll be a bit looser in the belly than I was pre-pregnancy for a while, but it’s nice to have the feeling of not needing to disguise or minimize a major portion of my body.

It is a beautiful thing, when you realize that your weaknesses and flaws have become your strengths and benefits.

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