why “get your body back” is BS

Sandal giveaway winner results at the bottom!

 

Well, of course, someone had to take some photos of me at a party, wearing my favorite dress (should I just stop wearing the clothes I love to events where there might photos taken?), bulky, lopsided, unfortunately proportioned, and my pregnant beauty bubble, so to awkwardly speak, was popped.

Shit.

No matter how many times I tell myself patiently, firmly, “NO. Don’t pay attention, the photo is lying!” there’s that part of my mind that goes “But this is the truth! THE TERRIBLE TRUTH IN A RANDOM, IMPERSONAL UNIVERSE WITHOUT A GOD.” My new tactic is better, I think. I tell myself, “So what? So what if I’m ugly?” And that is always more helpful. But at that particular moment there had been much talk of beautiful women, much instant evaluation around me of women as either pretty or dismissible, and it seemed as though it did matter, at least enough. Because even if it’s out of sheer laziness or habit or nothing important or just in passing, people seem to talk about the way women look first, and constantly, and always.

Anyway. I had been previously feeling glorious in all my pregnant majesty—belly outthrust, butt and thighs cushioning, the breasts, well, you know, they never cooperate, but whatever. But I had been liking how my new bigness feels essential, necessary, and full of purpose. I am carrying a baby human. I am holding the trump card. Kiss my goddamn pregnant belly, Victoria’s Secret. I don’t know. Something like that.

But the frightening thing is that somehow, some of the same obnoxious rules from before seem to apply. There is no escape.

(it’s a little like being trapped in a maze sometimes. source)

Within the world of women talking about being pregnant, there is a lot of discussion about gaining too much weight, about gaining it in the “wrong” places, and especially, about getting all of our bodies back, after.

This is very important, I’ve learned. The goal is to reclaim the former body as soon as is humanly possible. The magazines are all about it—not that I’m reading them, but I see headlines because I can’t just close my eyes in the checkout line. And it’s all over the internet, too. Tips and regimens and lists of exercises and rules to live by that will allow us to spring back, practically unaffected, pure, clean, tight as virgins.

 

Before anyone can even ask, the “expert” is explaining in the book or on the site, “It is a common concern, but there is no evidence that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag. However, some sagging is to be expected, regardless of how you feed your baby.”

“Congratulations!” reads the email I’ve automatically received. “You’ve reached your 23rd week of pregnancy! How your life will change at this stage of pregnancy, after the jump…” I click, of course, like a sucker who’s never seen a Facebook ad. It explains that I might develop stretch marks. So I guess should prepare myself for that “life-changing” event. “Many women find stretch marks upsetting,” the notification continues, “But don’t worry, they will fade, even if they never completely go away.”

 

(there are so many products like these! just in case they maybe do something. which they don’t. source)

And the women on the pregnancy forum are always talking about how much they weigh. They are so upset because they have gained a few lbs “too much.” “Ten lbs this month!!! I HATE MYSELF!!!” One woman wrote, triumphantly, it seemed, “I only gained ten pounds with each pregnancy and I lost them immediately, the day I gave birth, so I never had to worry!”

Don’t worry,” I read, “it’s normal to feel unattractive at this stage of pregnancy.”

“Don’t worry, even if you gain a little extra weight, it’s probably OK. But don’t use this as an excuse to pig out!”

“Don’t worry, many women find that their vaginas have returned practically to normal six weeks after the birth.”

“Don’t worry, this too shall pass.”

We are reassured over and over again not to worry, but I wasn’t worrying, I swear.

I wasn’t worrying, but there were detailed analyses happening about which is the best kind of pregnant body—what exact pregnant belly shape is the most aesthetically appealing, where you should hope to carry whatever weight you will have to carry, if you’re not lucky enough to be the woman who only gains ten lbs while pregnant.

And as I was admiring my largeness, feeling deliciously proud and savoring it, there were more articles and books being written about how I might quickly regain my dignity and my sex appeal, after. Everyone seemed to already be thinking about after, when my mission would be to negate every last trace of the transformation, every hint of the fact that I had changed and changed and continued to change through remarkably dramatic phases and impressively evolved stages that rearranged my organs and opened my ribs and poured new blood into my hardworking veins.

In the pictures, I looked lumbering and ungainly and unlucky. Suddenly, I was worried. What if I am ruined? What if I will never look good again? Suddenly, I was afraid of what was happening to me.

I can’t stop it. My belly button is quickly disappearing, a little shallower every day. I am afraid to look down in the morning, because maybe it will be gone. Irrationally, I’m nervous about the fragile skin there, that looks knotted from the inside, as though it will split open when stretched.

I am supposed to want my old body back, because my old body is supposed to be better. It makes me think about this idea that we all have this optimal body that we’re always trying to get to. Sometimes I think that’s the way it’s described to us. Whatever body we’re in right now is probably not the right body. It’s not our ideal body. So we should work to get to that better one, just out of reach, but ultimately, we’re reassured, achievable.

When I’ve written about being thin, sometimes commenters on this blog have reminded me that it’s easy to think of weight dichotomously, like, thin people on one side of an uncrossable line and heavy people on the other. But people inhabit many versions of their body over the course of their lives. Bodies are always changing. I like being reminded of that, that it’s the nature of bodies to change.

Bear showed me photos of him when he was a baby and a toddler yesterday, and I couldn’t recognize him in them. It was unnerving. And then he was this white-blond child model of a little boy, the kind who always faintly annoyed me for some reason, who look the way people mean when they say “all-American,” and it always felt somehow exclusive and a little discriminatory. And then he was suddenly round and angry-looking, like some kid in a warning about child obesity, and then taller, and then thin, and then heavier again, and finally a broad-shouldered man with expressive muscles. But of course he’s not done. It’s kind of hard to even keep up, but I think he walks around with all of those versions of himself interacting all the time. I think we probably all do—our many bodies in perpetual dialogue.

And at the same time, I know exactly what they mean when they tell me to make sure I get my body back. They mean the one with the least amount of evidence of life. They mean something like erasure. Erasure would be perfect. And automatically, I want that. What if I have stretch marks? What if I can’t lose the weight? What if my breasts sag and I am always a little lumbering after this?  What if I have a different body then, one that I don’t quite recognize?

Well, I will have a different body then. After. The way we are always growing into new, different bodies, because that is the way that bodies work. That is the way it’s supposed to be. A body is a long story with twists and surprises and secret abilities almost like little superpowers. I never knew my body could do the things it is doing now, which is why I am instinctively proud.

(the stories our bodies tell can be totally epic. source)

But even if I wasn’t pregnant, the evolution of my body wouldn’t be any less interesting or relevant. My body would just be telling a different story about my life.

Which is why I want everyone to shut the hell up about what I should worry about right now and how much I should want my old body back and how soon I should try to get it. How I should be preparing now to get it back, even before my daughter is done growing inside it. Stretch marks are not life-changing. She is life-changing. She is becoming a part of my story and the story of my body.

Clearly, I need to do one of those naked pregnancy photo shoots in warm lighting, holding crystals or something. Clearly, I need to sit here for a moment, looking down at my disappearing belly button, and touch my newly stretched skin and admire its flexibility. Clearly, I need to get my body back from all of these other people and their opinions about what exactly it should be doing and how it should be looking at any given moment. It is mine, and we are on an adventure.

But I still kinda wish I hadn’t worn that awesome dress. Damn it. How could it betray me in this heartless manner?!

*   *   *

What are you proud of your body for right now? How is it surprising you?

Unroast: Today I love the way I feel when I know I’m about to eat a really good burger.

Giveaway results: The giveaway winner is….Nycole! Commenter #49! Please write to me at kate@eatthedamncake.com and I’ll hook you up with Taos. Congratulations! I think you’ll really enjoy these sandals :-) Thanks for playing, everyone! 

 

 

57 Comments »

Kate on April 8th 2013 in beauty, body, fear, pregnancy

57 Responses to “why “get your body back” is BS”

  1. teegan responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    1. i never really got stretch marks.
    2. my belly button stretched and stretched but never popped.
    3. your boobs only seem saggy after the baby eats and they’re empty. when they’re full it’s usually vavavoom!
    4. i think i look better than i did when i got pregnant. but maybe i’m just better at seeing the round parts as fertile goddess and not fat kid
    5. rock your prego body. try to ignore the photos. most of mine were unflattering, too. but a few were awesome.

    pride: right now i look like the model in a romantic fin de siecle painting!
    (sorry for the clipped responses. my right hand is keeping a flailing baby steady!)

  2. Kate responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    @teegan
    hooray for fertile goddesses!
    I love your pride.

  3. melbo responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Kate, you never know with these things, that is all I can tell you.

    Your body changes but it won’t always be in the way you expect. You might find too that things spring back pretty much the way they were before and you will have so much awe and respect for what that body is capable of doing that this will override any other concerns.

    I didn’t get any stretch marks either and it wasn’t because I used cocoa butter … the smell of it made me gag! Heh.

  4. melbo responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Oh and way to miss the point, Melbo …

    Once you are visibly pregnant, you become public property. I feel sorry for the celeb who recently found herself compared to a whale. I am not particularly interested in that person but the comments on a photo on social media really caught my eye. They were cruel and thoughtless and I had to wonder why the magazine felt it necessary to encourage that.

    It is sad that even while creating new life, the woman is still being judged on how she looks. It’s a sad indictment of our society really.

  5. Janet T responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    I once gained 9 pounds in a week with my son- what can I say?- it was southern California hot and all I would consume were milkshakes- my Doctor freaked, but as my son is now almost 26- it seems we both survived it. I knew women who only gained 25 pounds their entire pregnancies. Really? I gained 40 with each of mine, and then lost it as I needed to.
    Kate I will say again- you are so strong- trust your instincts on this and stop listening/reading this stuff. You are going to be a great mom- and you will get your body/shape back as you need to. The end product of this pregnancy is incredible.

  6. Mindy responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I love this post!! My body has changed a lot over the years, through pregnancies, times of working out a lot, and times where I didn’t. Through all of the ups and downs, it’s always been MINE… I like it. Sometimes it’s “better” than other times, but it always is familiar. Oh, and my husband says my stretch marks look like flames, and they’re cool. ;)

  7. Tobasco responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    I admit that I’ve struggled to accept my body after having my daughter. She’s nearing four years old now. There are a lot of reasons for me. A big part of my identity before my daughter was defined by health, fitness, and nutrition. I was proud of my muscles and they made me feel strong both physically and emotionally. Pregnancy knocked me on my butt and after my daughter was out, I decided to stay at home. I was now a mother, jobless, and I didn’t recognize my body. It was very jarring for so much of my identity (fitness, my job) to be gone. I really struggled to figure out how this new identity fit me and I was really quite lost for a long time.

    Another reason was… I don’t know it’s hard to explain. My body is shaped differently now. The same cuts of clothing that fit me before I can’t wear now. When I sit, my stomach folds in different places than it used to, and it’s uncomfortable. My feet are a half size bigger. It’s is kind of like my whole life I was right handed and now I’m a lefty. These are small changes to someone else but to me my body felt completely foreign. It was jarring.

    I never expected to get the exact same body back, you’ve put into words much more eloquently than I could how I felt about my body during pregnancy. But I was unprepared for how hard it would be for me personally to move in a body that wasn’t the one I was used to.

  8. KDot responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    I’m 19 weeks pregnant and your posts are really resonating with me. I just want to thank you for sharing your experience.

  9. Lindy responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    You are right. A body is a long story with twists and turns and surprises. I am 56 and still haven’t lost the weight from birth 1 and 2. And my sister (who is a nurse) told me I had worst case of stretch marks she’d seen. I consider them scars of heroic birthing. I buy clothes that are right cut and colour. My sex appeal does not reside in my weight but in my twinkle in my eye.

  10. Annie responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    At 8 weeks out, I’ve actually been enjoying the post-pregnancy body too. My little pot-belly that’s emerged is kind of adorable, and I agree with Teegan that the extra weight around the hips and whatnot is nice in that “fertile goddess” sort of way. PLUS, you’re just so excited that you can sit up and walk around easily and lay on your back again!

    Also, I wish people just wouldn’t comment on pregnancy weight gain, period. I’m pretty sure that a LOT of it is genetic, so even if someone said something positive, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to respond with a “thanks” or what, when it felt like I didn’t control it in the first place. Just a general “You’re looking great!” is better, in my opinion.

  11. Farida responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Kate

    i was like you wonering how my body will look in the late stage of pregnancy. and how it will look after that!

    i hasd a few stretcdh mark and it didnt fade away !

    but im almost reached my weight after 3 months ! so don worry so much and enjoy being goddes and when the baby comes you’ll forget everything !

  12. Suzie responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    You know, society is stuffed. It has all these social mores that just make people feel totally inadequate. It takes one person to stand up and start to say things different in order for a change to happen, thank you for being that person.

  13. annabanana responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 1:03 am #

    It’s really sick that the one part of a woman’s life that should be safe from the absurdities of beauty standards, (obviously pregnancy), has somehow been infiltrated. They’re crafty, the mysterious dictators which decide what they want us to hate about ourself. I went to a really hard yoga class over the weekend, and for a couple days I’ve been much gentler with my body, knowing that it can hold plank that long. I also love my wrists (I know, I”m a freak. But take a closer look, all of you people chuckling. Wrists are strangely beautiful.) They just look so graceful with all my bracelets piled on.

  14. Sari responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 2:05 am #

    You may or may not get stretch marks. Some of it is amount of weight gain. Some of it is a woman’s individual skin being more prone to it. Some of it is nutrition. And really it’s all a crap shoot.
    If you like cocoa butter, or shea butter, or coconut oil, they are all great for your skin ANYWAY. If they help prevent stretch marks because you’re adding much-needed moisture, awesome. Make Bear give you massages with whichever thing you choose. ;-)
    Also, I know you won’t be at your roundest, pregnant-est self, but if you wanna do some preggers shots when I’m in at the beginning of May, could be fun!
    This is so not even addressing the deeper issues at hand in your post. Whoops. So it is sometimes…

  15. aïsha responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Thank you!
    Aïsha (33 weeks pregnant)

  16. Liz responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 6:32 am #

    What’s really struck me about being pregnant (21 weeks!) is the fact that you have to stop listening to people. Seriously. If I actually retained everything I read or was told, I’d go insane!!!! Sometimes I even have to filter my OB! I’ve gained about 10 lbs so far, and my OB is all “whoa, slow down!” and the thing is, I exercise regularly and I’m eating crazy healthy: hardly any sugar, tons of fruits and veggies, I cook from scratch, only drink water, etc. and when I’m hungry, (which is all the time, even waking up at 4am, starving) I EAT.
    You can’t win, so I decided to stop competing. HA! Easier said than done.
    BTW, you should totally do a post with pregnancy pics! I’d send in mine; but warning, they’re not glamorous lol

  17. Amy responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I think a lot of how I feel about my body (I am 32 weeks pregnant) at this stage comes from my own mother. She gained a lot of weight with me, got VERY intense stretch marks and never really “got her body back”. She, to my knowledge, could have cared less. She had me and that was all that mattered to her.
    I have gained more weight than I thought I would. It took a long time for my stretch marks to come through but boy have they! I was not terribly worried about that I guess. I already had some on my thighs from growth spurts in my teens so I figure what’s a few more?
    I have enjoyed watching my body change to accomodate this little person. Some parts have been uncomfortable and some parts awesome. I hope to be able to get close to the shape I was in before but I’m not going to kill myself over it. I have gotten lots of compliments on my preggy body and even a few people have said they hope I keep on some weight. And I was by no means a skinny mini to begin with. As long as my son and I are healthy that’s all that really matters.
    I like to see that there are women who are proud of what their bodies are capable of and I hope to remain one of them after the baby comes.

  18. Jessica responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Kate,

    Have you considered hiring a photographer (or talented friend) to capture you in your glorious pregnant state? I think it’s a way to reclaim the pride and beauty you felt before seeing the candid photo of you. It’s also a way to document where your body has been, something to look back on post-pregnancy, and hopefully let ads screaming about stretch marks just ping off you.

    Jessica

  19. Anon responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I think of stretch marks as natural tattoos. They are the tattoos of having lived and given life :)

  20. Kate responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    @Jessica
    Actually, my mom is getting me a photoshoot as a baby shower present. The photographer, Cari Ellen (http://www.cariellen.com/), is amazing so there’s her site just because I can’t help plugging her, and I’m excited. Not sure when that will happen, but you’re reminding me to coordinate it!

  21. Kate responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    @Amy
    I’ve been thinking a lot about how “couldn’t have cared less” is the key to a lot of these things. I’m jealous of your mom. I want that attitude for everything. But I definitely don’t have it. And I wonder how to cultivate it. I want to write about this more, because I think it’s especially relevant to body image stuff. Thanks for the comment!

  22. Sarah responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Thank you for this post! I really appreciate it. I also really enjoy your unroast today :)

  23. Cheryl responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    When I had my first child I had an unplanned c-section after a long labor.

    After surgery, after the recovery room, when I was warm and happy in my room I was overwhelmed by the miracle of it all–a huge, healthy, baby girl; this person that came out of me.

    In comes a nurse, who asked me if I was having problems coping because I’d had a c-section? I was still slightly drugged, but I remember not having a clue what she was talking about. Gradually, it dawned on me that what she wanted to know was whether I could cope with not delivering my baby in the “real” way. But I couldn’t see and smell and feel this little baby and think of myself as less than adequate. It just wasn’t in me.

    That’s how this works: create a problem (such as a body that’s less than what it should be, or a delivery that wasn’t what it “should” have been), and market products/services to meet that need. Ignore the miraculous, the amazing, and embrace the mundane.

    My daughter thought I was the most beautiful person in the world–stretch marks, baby weight, et al. Her face would light up the moment she saw me. And that continued throughout her childhood.

    And that thrill from seeing her face was worth any stretch mark, any blemish, any hair loss or weight gain. No one–not a nurse, not a cosmetic company, nor a plastic surgeon–should rob us of that joy.

  24. Lindsey responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Hi Kate,

    This post reminds me of this: http://www.stevewiens.com/2013/03/06/these-are-the-lines-of-a-story/

    As usual, you’ve knocked this one out of the park.

  25. Rosanne responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    The ‘it’s the nature of bodies to change’ part of this post really resonated with me. It seems so obvious, but I feel like I haven’t looked at bodies, or my body, that way in a long while (if ever). I am not experienced at having a pregnant body but this is important stuff either way.

    Also: the whole media thing, going after pregnant women they way they are now, makes me utterly sick to my stomach. It has been taken way too far, it’s just ridiculous.

  26. Jess @bruteandbird responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 3:14 pm #

  27. Claire Allison responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    You know, as a non-pregnant woman, I sometimes wonder: so what if you gained 10lbs in a week? I mean, the doctors are like “woah, slow down!” as someone said, but I just wonder, like medically speaking, really what is the worst that can come from 10lbs? And I don’t mean absolute worst case scenario, but the average worst case. You gained 40lbs, is that the worst thing life can throw at you? Not really, no. I’m not trying to be flippant, but I like the idea of stepping back and looking at the situation rationally and being like: this is not the worst thing that can happen to me.

    And I like these posts and the conversation your blog is developing on pregnancy, Kate. It makes me fear this inevitable transition less. It makes me see it in a new light, and try to be proactive and not fear the fact that when I get pregnant, my body will never be the same and that’s not only okay, but good, because my body is constantly changing and has constantly changed over my brief 27 years of life. Its nice to read such well-thought out arguments for accepting the way pregnancy changes our bodies, instead of the usual crap that’s thrown in our faces of either “i’m so fat and ugly” or “i’m an amazing miracle machine and a goddess blah blah blah” because for young women who have never been pregnant, I think it is really easy for us to totally fear the transition and to really resent this either/or dialogue that we see so much. I hate pregnancy photos, I hate it when people post them on facebook because it feels like its being shoved in my face. But your postings are starting to help me see the reasoning behind it, to accept it, and to accept these women and their bodies. So, thanks for changing my mind on something I know very little about, and that I have very little opportunity to engage with. Because pregnancy is kind of a members-only club, and those of us not in it often don’t get it and are shut out in a really confusing way.

  28. Claire Allison responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    And for the record I’m looking forward to your photoshoot! I hope you get some gorgeous shots, but I also hope you go nuts and have some funny and ridiculous ones, the ones that do express how awkward and strange pregnancy is. Its a weird process when it comes down to it.

  29. Elizabeth responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    I am so thankful you pointed out that it’s the nature of one’s body to change. We are fighting that simple truth with every ounce of our culture and I had forgotten about that.

    I have a few stretch marks (not from pregnancy) and they don’t bother me. Similarly, I am starting to get a few grey hairs and I am actually quite fond of them. I see them as well-earned. And now that I’m turning 30, my smile lines, too, are starting to come in nicely.

    Why should we put so much time and effort into trying to stop the clock? To make it appear as if time has had no effect upon us and that our bodies have never been touched by our experiences? The cynical answer is, ‘that’s what sells beauty products,’ but I think it’s deeper than that.

    Anyway, I’m just starting to figure out how this whole ‘life’ thing works. I appreciate your blog very much because it helps me see normal things (like stretch marks) in a new way.

  30. Reckless Housewife responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Today I am proud and surprised at how quickly my body is healing one day after a lumpectomy.

    Which I never expected to be a part of the story that my body would tell, but it is.

  31. Jenn responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    I really don’t like the competition for “fastest to bounce back.” You don’t get any gold medals for not storing body fat! Also, I have a crazy theory that if you do have some extra fat hanging about when you get pregnant, you are more likely to ride out the food aversions and morning sickness of the first trimester without needing to be hospitalized. (Just a completely subjective opinion, probably to make myself feel better about not having a teenage body anymore.)

    And although I didn’t get any stretch marks during my first pregnancy, the sudden growth of my hips during adolescence covered my entire midsection, upper-thigh to hips, with a network of stretch marks that are now a faint silver, more than 15 years later.

    I was absolutely expecting to get some during my first pregnancy, but I carried him so tight (he was breech and never “dropped”) and I guess grew slowly enough that my skin somehow adapted without stretching. He was my first, so I didn’t have anything else to do other than rub my midsection with cocoa butter, so maybe that helped, too. With my 2nd, I only developed a handful, very low on my stomach, after she dropped. I’ve always been self-conscious about my stomach, anyway, so it’s not like the few stretch marks I’ve acquired have changed my perspective on myself. Plus, everyone looks at my cute kiddos and not me, which is such a relief! :)

  32. jen responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    I remember looking at my mom’s stomach as a child and being utterly fascinated with her stretch marks. I never thought they were ugly. I thought they were fierce! Like my little kid brain imagined my mom being a total badass for having those squiggly purple lines on her belly and hips. Now that I’m pregnant (30 weeks!), I hope I can feel the same way…
    For the most part, I love this body with all its changes. I love my round belly, my widening hips, my fuller breasts – if only because I feel glorious about creating life and know that my physical appearance is a very tangible announcement to myself and everyone that sees me that my life is about to change in a drastic way.
    As for that favorite dress…find a new one that does flatter you. I’ve realized that some of those flowy empire waisted maxi dresses can look very Greek-goddess on our blossoming figures!

  33. Kristin responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Yes. YES. Lately all catchphrases like this leave me feeling “What does that even MEAN?” “Get your body back…” as in, you have lost your body. Whatever you have now doesn’t count as your body, it’s something else, so you better go get your actual body back. It reminds me of the word “overweight,” for the record, I think this is a really weird word. It seems to imply you have a separate, simultaneous weight that your actual weight is over.

    And your right. Pregnancy should implicitly and obviously be a much more profound and exciting conversation that what it looks like or weighs. And motherhood perhaps even more so. I think you’re awesome, Kate, and once again you’ve struck a chord. Thanks so much for your articles – I read every one, even if most of the time I can’t figure out anything useful to say.

  34. How Pregnancy Changes The Skin I’m In | Jade Keller responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 1:18 am #

    [...] than you had before getting knocked up, like there is some ideal version of you, and as Kate from Eat the Damn Cake observes, whatever ideal that is, it’s probably not the body you have right [...]

  35. C responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 1:42 am #

    I’m proud of the fact that even though I’m pretty overweight, my body can still give me enough energy and stamina to make me feel like I can run a marathon, lift I anything I choose to, and even make me feel downright gorgeous more often than not. All that despite social expectations saying that I should be lazy, listless, and devoid of anything like self-esteem.

    Even though I’m supposed to be too young to be thinking about this, I’m really looking forward to watching my body change as I get older. If I do have kids at some point, I’m going to be watching whatever comes my way with a lot of interest; my Mom never “got her body back,” but once she learned to just accept it as it was she started living a lot healthier and fuller than when she was trying to fight it.

  36. Kate responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    @Jen
    I love that you thought this about your mom’s stretch marks. Goes to show how arbitrary so many of these beauty rules are. What exactly is supposed to be so bad and ugly about stretch marks anyway? why should I be so worried about them? I’ve seen so many of them, and they’ve never bothered me.

    And yes! Maxi dresses with empire waists are the best right now! And luckily, I love them and have always loved them. So that works.

  37. Kate responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    @Claire Allison
    Thank you so much for this comment. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right and is such a relief to get! Also, I’m just really happy that all this is interesting to you. I’ve actually always been interested in other stages of life and other life choices that women make, even when I’m not even close to there/not ever going to be there myself. This is maybe morbid, but I sometimes find myself reading cancer blogs or columns, because the way that women describe there experiences with the disease are sometimes incredibly powerful and thoughtful and amazing. Anyway, thank you.

  38. Ames responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    I hate the term “get your body back”. Nobody takes it away from you, you have it the whole time. Yes I know what it is supposed to mean, but it is just such a stupid way to say it.
    I can’t believe the amount of pressure on pregnant women/mothers about their bodies…. if you can’t have stretch marks, bigger/saggier/flubbier body parts when you’re pregnant, then when can you?

  39. Kate responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    @Ames
    Yes– well said!

  40. Cari Ellen responded on 11 Apr 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Hi Kate!

    Wow. Your perspective and wording on these internal feelings ceases to amaze me. I love the stand you are taking and am so thrilled that you completely get how your daughter is becoming a part of your body’s life story. That is SO beautiful! And so are YOU! I cannot wait to photograph you – month 8 is the best time. And thank you for plugging me! :)

    OK so for the question: why am I proud of my body right now? Well, I have not exercised in a loooong time, like way before I had my first daughter 11 years ago. And 6 weeks ago I joined a yoga studio and have been going at least 5 times a week! So, after approximately 30 classes, I am really starting to feel STRONG and FLEXIBLE. Also more PEACEFUL. It feels miraculous. To take an hour a day to be really present IN my body and MOVING and USING my body. Super super super cool, very proud right now and filled with gratitude for my body!

    XOXO
    ce

  41. jay responded on 11 Apr 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    The uprising of Real Women ! Yay!

  42. Emilia Robert responded on 11 Apr 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Lovely post! I agree, pregnancy is not only about being a mom, it’s also about taking pride in all those changes that it brings to your body. No woman is prettier than a pregnant woman.

  43. Dee responded on 11 Apr 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Kate I think you would lve this blog if you haven’t checked it out already (not affiliated in any way) http://www.thisisnotadiet-itsmylife.com

  44. Leila responded on 12 Apr 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Hi Kate,

    Your husband and I are friends from high school, and I was so excited for you both when he mentioned you were expecting your first! I have to say, I totally sympathize with you on so many things, but particularly my unwilling attachment to the bathroom (still, at 14 weeks), and my utter lack of interest in peoples’ perceptions about how much weight I should or should not be gaining. To be perfectly honest, at this moment, I’m just concerned about the fact that I have yet to gain any weight, and how that’s not good for the baby.

    Anyway, just wanted to say congrats again!

  45. DJ responded on 13 Apr 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    You are a gifted writer. My husband found your blog first, but I am so glad he shared it with me. When I was pregnant I was so proud that I was making a baby in my body… “knitting an arm” is the way I described it. Since pregnancy I look like someone a child would love to curl up on, all warm and snug, and read or take a nap. No bony legs or flat chest any more, just soft, round comfort. I gained a few pounds, but it’s who I am now in this stage of my life.

  46. Kylie Lindstrom responded on 15 Apr 2013 at 12:35 am #

    Hi Kate,

    I love reading about your baby adventures…don’t be too phased about after baby body. Most people do change a little afterwards…believe me, after three bubs…but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, maybe more of an evolution! My tummy has never been the same, but I figure there are a lot worse things I could be worrying about! Plus, I have three wonderful little people in my life…so completely worth it!

    And photos while you’re pregnant are just like photos when you’re not, sometimes they’re awesome and you look fabulous and sometimes you look bloaty or like you have five chins and you hate them (Thank goodness for digital photos…take heaps and you’re bound to get one good one).

    I figure we’ve all got hang ups about the way we look, they just change at various stages of our lives.

    Enjoy your pregnant body! It’s doing amazing things after all. I promise your belly button will come back!

  47. Kate responded on 15 Apr 2013 at 9:53 am #

    @Kylie
    Thanks for keeping things in perspective!
    I think in the back of my mind, I’d hoped that somehow that pregnancy glow would seep through every camera lens… :p

  48. lauramich responded on 15 Apr 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    First, a huge standing ovation for what you’ve written here! I felt similarly through my own pregnancy. I figured that after birth, my top priorities were going to be (a) getting the hang of caring for my son; (b) working through breastfeeding and sleep deprivation; and (c) re-calibrating my healthy lifestyle—cooking at home, working out, etc.—around my new responsibilities. What happened to my weight? Would follow from that.

    Now, the little dude is almost six months old—where did the time go? I’m 10–15 pounds above my prebaby weight, but farther away from fitting into my prebaby clothes, thanks to everything settling a little bit differently. I’m a bit dismayed about the prospect of buying bigger pants (I’m still wearing maternity duds most of the time—call it denial if you must), but soon I’m going to suck it up.

    I’ll probably never be able to work out as much as I did before (up to an hour a day most days), but when his sleep habits settle out, I can do more; until now, as the weather gets better, I’m walking as much as I can. As long as I can keep my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers good, and can be strong enough to carry my (big!) boy around and fast enough to chase him … I’ll come to terms with the bigger pants.

    Now, one thing in your post did raise a red flag for me—the lack of breast changes. This could be a warning sign of hypoplasia, or insufficient glandular tissue—which, if you’re planning to breastfeed, could mean that you won’t be able to produce enough to nurse exclusively, without some kind of supplementation (donor milk or formula). It happened to me; I was never able to nurse exclusively, and we stopped around five months when little dude would latch and then start crying out of frustration—just got too heartbreaking (and as little as I was producing, it wasn’t worth the time to pump). So if nursing is your plan, I strongly encourage you to touch base with a lactation consultant who can work with you, monitor you and the babe in the first few days, and work out a game plan with you if IGT is in the cards.

    Best wishes for a healthy, happy pregnancy!

  49. The Mom Files: 6-Weeks Postpartum | I'm Better in Real Life responded on 24 Apr 2013 at 9:00 am #

    [...] week I read this post by Eat The Damn Cake where she talks about how the “Get Your Body Back” craze is bullshit. I think her [...]

  50. Mirmom responded on 24 Apr 2013 at 10:44 am #

    I’m a 41 year old Mom of two. Pre children I agonised over my weight constantly. People must have run in fear from my talk of weight watcher points etc! After my two successful pregnancies I managed to get back to myself give or take 10lbs! It wasn’t until I suffered two miscarriages that I realised how unimportant weight is. I still like to be fit and healthy but I now know that when your body fails, size does not matter! Took me long enough to try and be happy in my skin, I hope I can pass on some of my learning to my daughter.

  51. Elizabeth responded on 24 Apr 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    I like to pat my rounder tummy hips and bottom and call them my babies “supplies”, like “he’s been laying down supplies”. Even 6 months after his birth we still share my body because we are breastfeeding, and I need the stored energy for that. My round shape is my love for him made physical (whats that word i need?) My body was fit and strong before my 1st pregnancy and I revelled in its strength and beauty (in my mind anyway)… Now I look at my boys and marvel that my little body could create and grow such perfect creatures! It also provides me with the endurance needed to get through the days. I also have luggage under my eyes that cameras seem to focus in on, some deeper lines on my forehead and a general air of exhaustion and vagueness. But I don’t care right now cause I’m loving each day and doing my best and anyone who wants to judge me for my battles scars can come back to me when they’ve done what I have.
    Somehow I think that by throwing my whole self into what I’m doing now I can figure out what really matters to me. I know that the photos taken at my brothers wedding a few weeks ago will not be particularly flattering to me, but that’s where I was in life at the time and that’s what the records will show!

  52. Stephanie responded on 28 Apr 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Oh my gosh, at 13 weeks along this brought tears to my eyes (which happens daily now haha)! I’m recovering from an ED and admit I’m very scared to what this baby will do to my body. But this article reminded me of how beautiful pregnancy is! Reminds me of how you look back at pictures and realize how beautiful you were, and makes me want to get pregnancy photos so my baby can see how beautiful their mother was while pregnant. Sharing this article with every pregnant lady I know.

  53. Kate responded on 28 Apr 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    @Stephanie
    I’m so glad you liked this, and congratulations!! Definitely get pregnancy photos.

    And wow, I really know what you mean about the constant tearing up…Pregnancy has destroyed my ability to be “cool” about stuff. Everything makes me misty! :-)

  54. Stop Telling Me I Should Focus On Getting My Old Body Back | Pregnancy Guide responded on 24 Aug 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    [...] piece was originally published on Eat The Damn [...]

  55. Eat the Damn Cake » bleeding time responded on 11 Sep 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    [...] the new number gleefully to Bear practically every day when I step off the scale. As if to say, Look! I’m almost myself again! I look almost as though nothing happened! I wonder if I should at least try to plot a novel in my head instead of watching TV while I am [...]

  56. Stop Feeling Guilty for Taking Time to Be a New Mom | Wonderful Tips responded on 19 Nov 2013 at 9:34 am #

    [...] woman mentions that women are literally still bleeding, long after they’re expected to “bounce back” and reclaim their old lives and be totally self-sufficient. Our bodies haven’t finished healing, and we’re supposed [...]

  57. Motherof2 responded on 20 Nov 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    My youngest is six. I weigh what I did when I was first pregnant 11 years ago and I wear my pre-pregnancy size. This was hard won through lots of working out and eating right and it took me years post-baby. But now I have my body back, right? Hah! I have an all-new jumbled up two-kids mid-forties version of my body. Clothes don’t fit the same. They bag, they squeeze, they are confused. I have extra belly skin that jiggles and pools and seems unpreturbed by the abdominal muscles it hides. But I am strong and healthy and this body (and that belly) is the one that comes with these kids. I don’t want the old one back!