pregnant with possibility
“I want to eventually become one of those badass old ladies whose faces look like topography maps of everywhere they’ve ever been, and everything they’ve ever felt. Because, to me, that’s authentic beauty.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
I seem to be inundated at the moment with messages about beauty and aging. As a kid, random people would come up and tell me things about my appearance and I always found it strange. “Your eyelashes are so long.” “Your legs are so skinny.” Some lady came over to our table once when I was eating dinner with my family to tell me I looked like the boy from the t.v. show, Silver Spoons. Another, the Hanson boys but that was a child who had a seemingly unfortunate personality. Another time, a neighbor said the little girl from Poltergeist which freaked me out. I stayed away from static t.v.s for a long time. They’re back.
Too much focus on external appearance makes me uncomfortable. Partially because it is boring and also because I am more interested in what is going on inside. And this kind of beauty is fleeting. I like to enjoy life and tend not to spend too much time worrying about extra pounds and appearance oriented appointments which for women are incessant. Nails, hair, skin, hair removal, exercise including strength training, stretching, and cardio, lifts, tucks, botox, Spanx buying, the list goes on and on. It’s so depressing. And I do some of these and happily, especially, the ones that feel good like facials (but not the laser treatment which feels like rubber bands are being shot at your face at high speeds and I haven’t tried the vampire facial which according to a website “might look scary but boosts big time results” yet) and getting my hair done. But the ones that hurt like the hair removal appointments are definitely at the bottom of the barrel. Once the whiskers make me look like feline, I know it’s time.
A few weekends ago, at a wedding, donned in a dress I bought recently because of the color, print, and general funkiness, I felt good. Until two people asked me if I was pregnant. I wish I had said, “with a baby, no, with infinite possibilities, yes.” But I am not that quick.
I have shared this story a million times because I have learned that when we speak about what we are embarrassed about, it takes the shame away and because, let this be a lesson to all and a reminder to me especially, to never ask a woman if she is pregnant. I asked a woman once who wasn’t so maybe this is karma. The first time I was asked this question as the Atlantic Ocean gently swelled majestically in the background, I awkwardly mentioned my muffin top and then beelined to the bar. But, the second time, tears instantly burned my eyes. No one asked the men with their little tums tums what was up, instead we refer to their rounder bodies as dad bods and say they look hot.
It’s strange when people stop telling you, you look pretty or like a celebrity (even if it was some weird ass teen boys) and start asking you if you’re pregnant. Or tired. Or you look so good for your age.
I am here to say that the mom bod is beautiful and feminine, soft and strong. We are worthy because we are human beings made from love not because of how we look in dresses and bathing suits. You look good not because you are eating micro greens or chia seeds but because your happiness is coming out of your eyes like diamonds and the sun is rising across your face.
I am reminded of a friend of mine who died of brain cancer years ago. A brilliant, smiling, poetry - writing, social - working, pet - loving, human with a heart of gold who my husband once told me every guy had a crush on in high school, and who lamented that she ever turned down a piece of cake.
We have to be more conscious of how we talk about ourselves and to ourselves whether anyone is listening or not. How we look in the mirror and what we say to our daughters, friends, and nieces. What do we say to people when we see them at an event, “You look great, have you lost weight?” So…before the weight loss, how did they look and why does it matter?
I have friends telling me to burn the dress I wore to the wedding. But it was pricy so I really don’t want to. And I still think it is pretty. So maybe if I put it on and it doesn’t feel good, I will burn it along with some bras I don’t care for. But if it feels good when I get it on my body, the one I am so so thankful for transporting me around in these past 43 years then I will continue to say yes to the dress and yes to life, knowing and practicing believing when I don’t know, that what makes us beautiful and lovable is our smart, wise, interesting, strong, sassy, soulful, kind, glowing from the inside out - selves. And this beauty is eternal. And enjoy the cake.