Growing in a Shrinking Culture (for a good reason!)

So I’ve had some people try to convince me to start a blog for a while now (ahem, Taylor).  I’ve always like the idea, but wasn’t quite sure where to start or what to write about.  Now that my life is taking a crazy and exciting turn with expecting my first child, I figured this was the perfect opportunity! 

The most difficult part of starting a blog is coming up with a title.  You may wonder where mine came from.  I hope to explain in this post, but basically I decided to go with the one thing that has been a surprising challenge to me thus far in my journey of pregnancy.  All of my posts will not be about this specific issue, but I figured it was a good place to start!

It is an issue that I’ve come to find is difficult for many pregnant women these days: A growing middle and weight gain in a culture that is obsessed with being thin!  I have always thought that pregnant women were so cute.  I even used to think about how I couldn’t wait to be pregnant “one day” and wear maternity clothes.  I’ve also heard statements like: “Pregnancy is so beautiful,” “My wife was sexiest when she was pregnant with our child” and in Hollywood it even seems like it’s becoming trendy.  Yet it is much harder believing these things when you are the one carrying the extra daily growing weight.  You don’t see billboards or commercials of “sexy” or “beautiful” pregnant women.  They’re all size 0-2, with waistlines smaller than their neck.

I work on a college campus widespread with beautiful young women.  Add to that the fact that I specifically work with Greek students—the cream of the crop when it comes to good-looking!  Now I’ll admit, I struggle with body image as much as the next woman.  By the grace of God I have never had an eating disorder (I enjoy eating food too much and certainly do not enjoy vomiting!) But do I walk by women and wonder why I don’t have their legs, hips, waistline or bust? Absolutely.  Do I look in the mirror and think of things that could be fixed? Sometimes.  Do I quote Proverbs 31:30 to myself? Often.

I want to take a quick second to say that we are not victims of our culture.  There is an underlying skewed view of our own importance underneath the insecurities and lies that we tell ourselves.  We think it is all about us.  We want to be loved, worshiped and adored more than we want to serve or let our bodies be used for good things like producing life. Therefore, often we need repentance more than we need the billboards to change.  However, I highly doubt that women in less media influenced cultures struggle with their pregnant bodies in the same way.  On the contrary, since pregnancy is a sign of fertility it is likely coveted and attractive in other parts of the world.

But here in the Western world, we worship the emaciated look.  Even in Hollywood where pregnancy is becoming popular we watch celebrities drop right back down to their size 0 within what seems like weeks after giving birth (for example: http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID20836/images/ex_jess_preggers.jpg  and http://www.herdaily.com/blogimg/parenting/E_BodyAfterBaby_325.jpg).  This puts an enormous amount of pressure on women to be able to do the same and never look like you had a child!

I am at the beginning of my 2nd trimester so I’m in that awkward “wait…is she pregnant or has she been eating too many sweets?” phase, which I am convinced must be the worst.  You are not noticeably pregnant, but you are noticeably not thin either.  Maternity clothes are a little too big for me, but my normal clothes are too small.  It looks like I’m growing a gut right now, not a baby.

Now I know that at the end of this, I may look back on my pregnancy with joy and seeing all of its beauty while I hold my child in my arms.  But the way myself and other pregnant women feel about their bodies begs the question: how does one cultivate and maintain a healthy and positive view of her pregnant, growing body in a place where weight gain is condemned?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Lauren W says:

    I have always carried my weight in my stomach. I am normally a size 8-10, and even when I was a size 4, I still had a little belly- that is just how I am built. I have actually had people ask me if I was pregnant…and I”m not. It was hurtful. I cannot wait for the day that I am actually pregnant- it is a time where a changing body is seen as beautiful. I think pregnant women and women with newborns are the most beautiful creatures 🙂

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