No, I am Not Pregnant
I am 50. I am healthy and my skin reflects that.
I also have a puffy stomach. And I am definitely holding in my stomach in the photo above.
None of that defines me. I wish people would stop assuming that if a woman’s belly protrudes, she must be preggers.
I have some news. Women’s bodies are curvy. Our bodies are round and especially those of us who have birthed children (and often those of us who have not), our skin is stretched, our bellies are puffy, and there may also be excess loose skin or stretch marks around our bellies too.
And guess what? This is normal.
It’s going to take a LOT of women willing to talk about the truth of our bodies so that we can normalize what the media has distorted for all of us.
This past Mother’s Day, record numbers of women came out on social media showing their postpartum bellies, including the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and it inspired me to talk about mine too.
The first time I was asked if I was pregnant when I was not, my children were very young and I was wearing overalls that day. I remember feeling great in them. A woman I worked with asked me when I was due. I was mortified and I tossed those overalls right in the donations bag.
Unfortunately the body shame did not get tossed with the overalls that day. My body shame festered in silence and I was so embarrassed by her question that I didn’t dare tell anyone.
Ten years after the overalls fiasco, I had my first visceral experience of body love.
I was on a women’s empowerment weekend on a beach in Miami and I wore what I will refer to as my suburban sexy bathing suit. It was a tankini with a mini skirt bottom. Up until then, in my post baby body, I only wore one-pieces. I thought that’s what mothers do — hide their puffy bellies. So this was pretty radical for me. And in my slim attractive curvy 42 year old body, the tankini felt skimpy. But most of my body was covered up.
On the beach, I witnessed a woman on my retreat who was at least double my weight and a foot shorter than me (I’m 5'10") and she was wearing one thing only — a hot pink thong. Oh, and a big smile.
And let me tell you — that goddess OWNED IT.
I learned a lot from Hot Pink Thong Lady.
I learned that sexy has A B S O L U T E L Y . N O T H I N G to do with weight or body shape or the presence of cellulite. It has to do with how a woman feels in her body. There I was, classically thin and covered with layers of bathing suit material, and this woman double my size was practically naked, working it, and sexy AF.
Damn, I learned how to own my curves that day. Thank you Hot Pink Thong Lady.
I get asked if I am pregnant for three main reasons. Well, four, really.
1. I have a puffy stomach. Duh.
I birthed two children and it’s my medal of honor. Period. I have tried a lot of things to have a flatter stomach and I absolutely do not want to do a gazillion crunches every day or never eat chocolate again. So that’s that.
2. I refuse to wear Spanx.
I have nothing against Spanx. I used to own them in every color and I loved how smooth they made my ass, belly and thighs feel. After interacting with Hot Pink Thong Lady, I started really accepting my body for how she was and that meant taking a good hard look at my Spanx collection. Keep or toss, keep or toss? Those babies ain’t cheap, so it required some contemplation. The truth is they are tight, so damned constricting and I sweat like a truck driver in them. Anything to appear thin and flat, right?
I ended up tossing them. And with that, I continued the journey of letting go of body perfection and consciously choosing body love.
3. I don’t hide my belly.
This is the biggie — after #1, of course.
I wear sexy fitted dresses because I love them. I wear yoga pants with a fitted tank over them because I love it. They feel great to wear. In our culture, there are two times when it’s socially acceptable for a woman to show our bellies: one, if we are pregnant or two, if we have a flat belly. Sorry, not sorry, but I do not fall in to either of those categories. I am in another category entirely — normal woman curvy body shape.
4. I glow.
It’s a direct result of #3.
I love myself, I love my body. I own my curves. I dance like I mean it. I live my life. I take chances. I eat healthy and also eat burgers and fries when I desire. I leave relationships and careers, I follow my true desire every day. I say the truth, I am vulnerable and I am deeply connected to my Higher Power. I do a shit load of inner work and practices to live this way and I love every moment of it.
Thank you for reflecting that at 50 years old, I am glowing and look young enough to be pregnant!And the truth is I am pregnant — with ideas and possibility.
Last Shabbat, a woman at Temple congratulated me on my pregnancy. I kindly told her, No I am not pregnant.
I shared the story with my friend as we walked to dinner. We had a great heart centered talk about our bodies and this article was born. She told me she was inspired to wear a sundress recently after seeing me wear one. That touched me deeply and I realized how MUCH we need to keep talking about this. Women, we are in it together.
I have come a long way since the overalls incident. I used to feel humiliated when someone asked me if I was pregnant when I wasn’t. I made it mean my body was imperfect and then I felt terrible about myself. I was too embarrassed to even talk about it, so the thoughts festered in my head and rotted. It stank with the secrecy of body shame. Shame thrives in isolation — and I was cultivating body hate.
Not any more.
And one more thing.
Let’s stop asking women if they are pregnant. Unless it is totally obvious beyond belief — like they are moaning in labor or the baby’s head is crowning.
Some women have puffy stomachs. Or thighs, or asses.
We gave birth.
We are hormonal.
We have curvy bodies.
We have an illness.
We ate a lot of sandwiches.
Let’s stop perpetuating this construct that our bodies need to be flat and perfect.
And It’s none of your business.
This bun is out of the oven, people. The time is waaaaay overdue to birth a realistic concept of what women’s bodies really look like.