Last week I brought up two things that our culture asks pregnant women to change: their tendency to talk about their feelings and their views on their bodies. After enough talk on talk, this week let us discuss, Le Gut.
Along with Le Thighs and Le Ass, Le Gut has never been a friend of mine or of any woman’s. Yes it is so sensual, so laissez-faire as it rides over low-rise jeans after a filling holiday meal, but like dealing with a French man on your first visit to Europe, you are constantly reminded to keep it at bay with rigorous all-American exercise and strict pilgrim-like puritanical abstinence. From a young age we are prepared for the battle with our guts through instructions on sit-ups, crunches and Shape magazine articles with year-round ten new tips to bikini abs. And so we work-out, cut ourselves off from lady friends who lunch on guilty caloric pleasures, sacrifice Doritos for baby carrots and then we get pregnant and we’re told, “Forget all the work you’ve done, love that big belly of yours!” What? Does being a baby incubator make me no longer a woman? Don’t I still want to look good? Oh but you will. Once a woman gets preggers you see, we are all re-brainwashed to now believe that everyone finds nothing more attractive than a pregnant gut. To say otherwise is a horrible faux-pas that shows you to be unenlightened to the ways of womanhood and could get you banned from any upcoming baby showers (that last part I know is not much of a deterrent, but still, just in case). So agree with it, pregnant bellies are so beautiful, so natural. Yes, and so was my non-pregnant belly gut, but no one said how beautiful or sexy it was when it squeezed on out my ironic baby T’s back in the 90’s!
As someone who used to be at one time forty pounds heavier (on my frame = 6 dress sizes larger) without a baby inside, this whole, “Miracle of life makes my gut okay,” is hard to accept. Maybe getting fat is an exciting new adventure for skinny ladies who have never struggled with their weight, but for those of us who have worked hard to trim down and undo years of bad eating habits and lifestyle choices, the idea of purposefully putting on pounds is not cool. It’s like asking a recovering alcoholic to suddenly stop their sober lifestyle and start drinking a glass of booze a day. Hey but in 9 months, no worries, you’ll be back to normal! Oh really?
Now I understand that expecting mothers are not asked to get fat for fat sake, it’s just enough weight to help feed the baby and your new babymaking machine of a body. But still, part of you is gonna get larger than usual. Your arms, your legs. Madonna got fat arms. Hilary Duff got fat legs. I even had a friend who got a fat nose! Of course I’ll do what I have to do to make sure our baby is healthy and out of me, but please, oh please don’t tell me not to worry and just let my body do its thing. And definitely don’t ask me to suddenly find the larger me gorgeous. Isn’t that sort of a stretch? No pun intended. I see these women who get obsessed with this new weird shape they take on and even go so far to try and make it sexy. Why? Is it really? Or is it because as women we always have to feel that we are in a state of sexy at all times. What if we’re not sexy when we get knocked up, or beautiful–would that be so awful? I do acknowledge that there are some women who look absolutely precious with their big alien-like extended bellies. Although I think that has something more to do with those sweet goofy smiles they get when they talk about being pregnant than the belly itself. Oh wait…no it is the belly. ‘Cause it’s pretty funny to see a good friend with a big ol’ Buddha belly walking around. So cute. But beautiful? Sexy?
I’d rather not try to make it something it’s not. How about instead of fetishizing it with sexy belly shots, just look at it for what it is–a part of life and our bodies. Ears for instance are not that exciting to look at and not all that particularly beautiful, but I don’t go out and prove otherwise by taking a sexy or sweet photo of my ears. No I’ll stick to knowing that what I have to look forward to is nothing more than the perfect extended tight gut needed for that beer-drinking trucker costume I’ve always wanted to pull off at Halloween. When the time comes, I hope to neither love Le Gut, nor hate it, but just let it be. And instead of fretting over making it out to be more than it is, I say as the French would say, “C’est la vie.”