Archive for the 'body' Category

super sexy with a big belly and body image issues

I feel a lot of different ways about my big, pregnant body. I wanted to write one simple piece, like “Reasons Why I’m Super Sexy Pregnant.” Or “I Still Have Body Image Issues While Pregnant.” But it’s not really one or the other—it’s complicated, like life. But I am super sexy pregnant, I promise. You should see me. I’m pretty much just oozing sex appeal:

me being pregnant by the door2



I think my face looks naturally sullen. It’s a thing for me. I don’t know why. I was just born that way.

And also, my pregnant body is like a shield—it hides me from other people. It disguises me.

My pregnant body is like a window—everyone can suddenly see inside, and they want to talk about my motherhood.

The waitress at The Meatball Shop, where I have now been five times because meatballs are suddenly the best food ever, tells me that she just broke up with her boyfriend of five years, and it’s really because he didn’t want a baby and she does, she wants a baby so badly. Her acting career isn’t really going anywhere, but she’s OK with that. She just wants a baby. Her cousins are all having babies. Why is it so hard to meet a decent guy in this damn city?

The woman with the headscarf in CVS has been trying for a while, but nothing so far. It’s so frustrating, she says, smiling. She says she wants eight kids. I can’t tell if she’s serious. “Do you want a lot?” she asks me.

“Yes,” I say, even though it’s hard to imagine even one, even though her foot is working up into my ribs as we speak and I have begun to refer to her as “the vicious baby” and sometimes “the evil baby.” Theoretically, I’d like to have more of them. Preferably if they could just appear on my doorstep one day, softly swaddled and fully gestated.

Continue Reading »


Kate on June 20th 2013 in beauty, body, fear, life, pregnancy

cosmetic surgery doesn’t have to be shameful

When people imagine someone who has had plastic surgery, they often imagine a woman with pushed up, too-round breasts and a stretched, unnatural face. There is something sad about her. It is sad that she “needs” it. It is sad that she is vain enough to get it. She lacks character, she has the wrong priorities, she is admitting defeat. She is, above all, superficial.

No one can ever guess by looking at me.

The end result is nothing like the stereotypes, so people say things in front of me about women who get plastic surgery. Those things are never nice. Sometimes I just listen, too uncomfortable to chime in with my own story. It’s not a story I like to tell. It’s an awkward story about awkwardness. It implies the kind of self-dislike that feels like a messy secret. It’s inherently painful. It’s also a story with a happy ending.

It’s not just me — I know a lot of women who have chosen cosmetic surgery. Young women who I was friends with for years before they mentioned their breast reduction. Older women who finally whispered something about their face lift, confessional, nervous. Lipo, eyelids, jaw, breasts increased or decreased—some of the surgeries sound (and are) more medically necessary than others and others are obviously purely cosmetic. Like mine. The modern Jewish woman’s procedure of choice: rhinoplasty. The one with the worst name. Rhino. Great. I always have to picture the damn animal clomping around with its massive snout and horn. That’s me!

(I shouldn’t be so hard on the rhino– it’s really kind of noble looking. source)

In my family alone, I can think of three other women who have had nose jobs. Their profiles were whispered about at Passover and Chanukah gatherings. “Did you notice . . .?” I never had.

Continue Reading »


Kate on June 17th 2013 in beauty, body, nose

Jennifer Garner and me

I look in the mirror a lot not because I’m vain, necessarily, but because I’m constantly forgetting what I look like.

Really, I am. My appearance startles me all the time. Basic things about it. “Wait, is that really my chin? But for real now: is that actually how it looks? Does anyone have confirmation on this? Do we have proof of chin?”

It’s confusing: I look different in different lights, in different clothing, in different moods; I seem to morph ever-so-slightly with mild fluctuations in the atmosphere, shifting with faint variations in the ambient temperature. Sometimes when someone mentions that they think they saw me on the street the other day, in Cobble Hill, coming out of a burger place, bent furtively over an enormous double cheeseburger, I try frantically for a second to remember how I looked that day. Was it a good day? Did I look like a person I wanted to look like that day? The cheeseburger was good. I know that much.

I am a little surprised that I look like myself all the time to other people. What does that person look like? She teasingly eludes me.

In the evenings, as I grow third trimester tired and lose my ability to attentively smile and grimace at the appropriate moments in other people’s stories about their love lives, I have been watching more and more of the show Alias on Netflix. I love spy things. I love it when the woman spy parachutes into Romania or wherever in her plain, zipped up parachuting outfit and then she unzips it in a single, triumphant motion, and BAM! underneath is a sexy red evening gown with a plunging neckline! She just landed from 1,000 feet up in six-inch heels! And she will very soon be running in them, as the bad guys chase, but never catch her. I love that shit. It makes me want, for the millionth time, to wear wigs constantly. Why are we not all wearing wigs all the time? Wigs seem like so much fun.

(the dress is also bullet-proof, of course…source)

Anyway, Bear thinks Alias is kind of boring and bad, and every time he looks over my shoulder at my flickering computer screen, where Jennifer Garner is round house kicking an enemy of the state in her stilettos, he shakes his head and goes, “None of this makes any sense.” And then I go, “It’s a TV show.” And then he goes, “But it doesn’t make any sense! And she sounds like a little girl.”

Which she does. She sounds just like a little girl, with that sweet, whispery voice, her big, soft eyes always about to well with helpless tears. But she is not helpless! That’s the cool part! It’s feminist! See? She knows kung fu!

But really, if I’m being honest, Alias, for me, is partially just a show about Jennifer Garner’s face. And about her body, too. But definitely starring the perfect, sculpted lines of her jaw, the fullness of her always-pink lips, the clean simplicity of her little nose, her warm, wide eyes. Everything about her face is pure and neatly stated and lovely. She looks amazing in every single wig. It’s a wonder to watch. So many TV shows, it seems, are partly about whatever the plot is doing, and partly about how beautiful a woman is. Look at her in all of these different settings! She has to go undercover as a stripper again!

Continue Reading »


Kate on June 12th 2013 in beauty, body

how I want my daughter to look

I was so sure I was having a boy. I’d even given my baby a boy name, and I talked to my belly and told him he was a great son. A strong, noble, excellent son. People said, “A mother knows…” and nodded along with me.

Not this mother. Apparently, this mother doesn’t know shit.

“Can you tell if he’s a boy or a girl?” I asked the sonographer at the 20 week ultrasound, just to be sure.

She bit her lip and tried not to smile. “Oh yes. I can tell.”


He was a girl. She had always been a girl. I burst into overwhelmed tears. And then something shameful happened. Instead of being fully happy, the way every new mother is supposed to, I was worried. I was worried that she would look like me.

Continue Reading »


Kate on June 7th 2013 in beauty, body, motherhood, pregnancy

the stupidity of “natural” beauty

It must be nice to be a “natural beauty.” To be gorgeous without effort or even interest. This type of beauty is perhaps the most impressive. It’s like being a piano prodigy, except that you don’t even have to touch the keys*. You can just stand around. You can sit. You should probably not eat too much, but otherwise, you’re good, because of God and genes and accident.

(don’t even worry about it… source)

It’s hard to escape the concept of natural beauty. Once in college I was in a religion seminar, and the guest lecturer, a world-traveling, leathery-tan man with an impressive literary biography described in detail the beauty of the pious Muslim girls he’d encountered on his wild desert journeys. One girl was maybe fifteen, but she radiated a kind of primal loveliness. A dewy, untouched sex appeal. Holy shit, did he actually use the words “sex appeal” in describing her? He might as well have. Rapturously, he recalled how even her thorough hijab could not conceal her bursting beauty. Unlike Western girls, and here he glanced around the table at our tired, effortful faces, this pure blossom didn’t even have to try. She simply embodied beauty. She had, somehow, regardless of politics and oppression and discrimination and whatever else, won.

I was disturbed. Why were we talking so much about this girl’s appearance in the first place? Why was this man so comfortable objectifying, exotifying, and eroticizing her, especially in an academic setting?

But we are always talking about girls’ appearances, actually.  And, in practically every context, “natural” beauty is praised.

Continue Reading »


Kate on May 28th 2013 in beauty, body, feminism, perfection


Someone stole my body from me. The whole thing, all of my pieces. I think I’m locked up somewhere dark now.

I know, because when I look down at myself, I don’t see me. I see all of the things I should be instead of being myself.

I’ve been stealthily, expertly, completely replaced.


I noticed it the other day, smoothing cream over my legs. Well, these legs, anyway. The ones that attach there, at the base of the torso. I was rubbing the moisturizer into them and I had this image of my head of other women smoothing other, probably more expensive, moisturizer into probably more expensive legs. Better legs. Legs that are longer and lither and tanner and sleeker. Legs that get described in books, lovingly, sometimes almost flippantly, like, of course. Of course, if she’s here, important enough to get a mention; she has these long, fabulous legs.

“I love your short legs,” said Bear, randomly, and I was insulted. “Short” was an insulting word for a second, and then I realized that he was being sweet, and he was serious, somehow, and he had, after all, started off with the word “love.” But “love” and “short” and “legs” do not work together in my mind, because I’ve memorized instinctively all the right proportions and measurements (even though I suck at numbers) and I know what is worth loving.

But I don’t know what is worth loving. Because I am worth loving.

I feel like I have an expert eye for beauty. It’s because I’m an artist, I’ve told myself. I have always painted. But really, it’s because I’m a girl.

Continue Reading »


Kate on May 23rd 2013 in beauty, body, feminism, pregnancy

start working on feeling beautiful today! feel beautiful by summer!

It seems like one Harvard professor or another in exceedingly blue, alarmingly stiff jeans is always coming out with a pop psych book about happiness and how misunderstood it is.


Apparently, people make a lot of the same mistakes about happiness over and over. We keep thinking that we have to work really hard to get to it, and do certain tricky things to capture it, sort of like that scene in Avatar, where they have to bond with the giant flying dinosaur things, and they’re just as likely to get killed, because you have to really earn that bond—not just any Na’vi can fly! But man, when you stick your hair tentacle into your bird dinosaur’s tendril thing and make that platonic, yet soulmate-y connection—there is NOTHING else like that shit. So worth it.

My point is, we expect happiness to be hard. But (apparently) it isn’t really. And instead of fighting and waiting for it, we should probably just work on recognizing where it’s already sneaking around in the shadows of our current lives, like a little smiley cat burglar.

I think it’s like that with beauty and self-acceptance, too. Continue Reading »


Kate on May 20th 2013 in beauty, body, pregnancy