Tag Archives: Madonna

Pregnant Lady Gut

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.”

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Ageism, Madonna and Why We’re All Too Old

I feel bad for Madonna. People have been making fun of how old she is ever since she danced during her Super Bowl halftime show in an unflattering black short dress and long black cloak. Everyone knows only young people can dance in bad-looking clothes and make them somehow look good, so what was she thinking?! Still it’s ageist to say so. In fact it’s ageist to criticize anyone because of their age. We’ve all been through it, yet we can’t help but carry on this cruel practice to generations that follow.

At the age of five, I too was a victim of ageism on a daily basis: in school I could only have lunch with kids my age and on the playground, eight-year-olds laughed at me when I asked to play with them. “You’re a kid,” they’d yell, “play with someone your own age!” During my sister’s high school ragers, her teenage friends would put me in a closet and not let me out. Back then I thought it was because I was Catholic, but in hindsight I realize it was because of my age.  Then like a bad cliché straight out of a psychology textbook, I took what I learned from my experiences and turned into a practicing ageist myself. When my little brother asked to play with me and my friends, I rejected him solely based on his lack of years and experience in playing. I should have stopped the cycle of prejudice but I was too weak. Some would even say, too young.

In elementary school girls my age would gush over Ricky Schroeder, but by this time I was a full-time ageist. I made fun of them and anyone who liked him. “He’s just a boy,” I’d say, then I’d proudly declare my love for older men, in my mind “real men,” like Han Solo and Indiana Jones. This way of thinking limited my dating possibilities.  In High School I refused to date anyone younger than me and I was so blinded by my bias, that I could only find older guys attractive. My first boyfriend was a senior when I was a freshman and my second boyfriend, though not quite old enough, was at least one year older. After we broke up, a hot blonde kid with a body like young Brad Pitt was interested in me and asked me out. Alas, he was a year younger. But it wasn’t his fault that he was born a different year than you. True, but I could not compromise what I saw as my principles at the time. So like a nasty ageist, I told him I couldn’t date him because of his age. Still I let him take me to his homecoming dance.

But ageism is tricky. Just when you think you’re the one calling the shots on who to be with according to their years on earth, ageism comes to take you down. Years after college, a talent agent I interviewed with once asked me my age. He kept prodding until finally he coerced me by saying, “Well if we sign you anyway we’ll find out sooner or later.” I told him I was 30 and immediately he pushed back his chair and smirked as if there was nothing he could do for me. In his eyes I was 500 years old and not in a cool Vampire way. He told me I was too old for this business, rolled his eyes and thanked me for my time. If this agent had been around, he probably would have passed up Phyllis Diller when she first started doing stand-up, since she didn’t get to doing it until she was 37.

Being placed back on the receiving end of this narrow-mindedness, I started to see how thinking this way even limits our appreciation of life. How much more attractive would the general population be to us if we saw people of all ages as beautiful. I once met Carla Laemmle at her home. A silent movie star and niece of Carl Laemmle (Universal Pictures founder), she opened her door and I was struck by how beautiful she was. She was wearing this intricately designed silk house robe, had stunning blue eyes with even white skin and a thick mane of hair that matched. I could not stop sharing with friends how gorgeous this woman was. No plastic surgery–at least no facelift or Botox by what I could see–just old-fashioned beautiful. But she’s old. So? She’s 102!Everyone I told looked at me like I was sick. In fact, people even seemed grossed out by the thought that a woman her age could be considered gorgeous. Finally someone made sense of what I was saying by adding, “For her age.”

I don’t fault anyone for their inability to respect the young or the old. After all, ageism in our country is ingrained and structured by law: DMV’s nationwide don’t let people drive until they’re 16 (unless you get a hardship license which always makes the driver sound young with a sad home life), our nation doesn’t let us vote or join the army until we’re 18, courts don’t  allow citizens to sleep with anyone over the age of 17 until they turn 17, discounts at theaters and amusement parks are given age markers of 21 and 65, and before you are finally allowed to drink alcohol at the age of 21, you are given the ageist name of “minor”. Still it’s something we can be aware of and another thing we should consider adding to our “Please Be Sensitive To This Subject” list.

Carla is on the left.

Now Madonna isn’t necessarily a champion against ageism herself–she seems more interested in being seen with young already established artists rather than older ones, but what she did do was make public a hidden discrimination. Madonna is not afraid to do whatever she wants at an age most people believe you should no longer think you can do whatever you want. This prejudice though is not just for those over 50, but rather people generally feel the need to stunt everyone and tell them what they can and can’t do at any age because of their age.

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