The Badass Art of Taking Up Space
Do you want to hear an insane thing I’ve realized about (some) women? Even during pregnancy, we find ways of manipulating our bodies, making ourselves smaller, contorting into certain positions in order for our bumps to appear “cuter” and the rest of us leaner. I’m guilty of it myself, and I think it’s sad and frankly absurd.
Over the past six months, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had an easy go of it, physically: my 19-years-of-no-vomming record remains untarnished, I’ve felt strong and mostly energized, and Puffin is healthy. (Please don’t think I underestimate how lucky this all makes me!!!) I have, however, had a tough time psychologically with watching my body change shape and the number on the scale skyrocket. I gained 15 pounds, like, immediately. I curse those articles that warn, “Don’t be alarmed if you LOSE weight in your first trimester, LOL!” F*ck off. Unfortunately, my body image issues have deep roots, and, though I‘d hoped that my pregnancy journey might be the key to killing them off, it has only added further tendrils to a complex web.
The first photo here is a selfie (or “Puffie”, as I’ve taking to calling my bump pictures) from the other week, one morning when I woke up thinking my bump looked sweet in my pjs. Even though I’d been awake for all of five minutes and the photo was purely for myself, I still tried to conceal my larger-than-usual upper arm, turn my body just so, and even *hold my breath* so that the area around my ribcage appeared more petite. Reflecting on this now makes me feel embarrassed for myself but also dismayed for society as a whole.
Why is it that women are expected to take up as little space as possible — with our bodies, with our voices, and even as we’re busy creating new life? We should nourish ourselves and exercise to feel strong, not small; let our voices ring because they’re generally the ones most worth hearing anyway; and show off the fact that we are capable of making actual human beings from scratch while simultaneously working/traveling/caring for others/putting on a brave face to the world/dealing with the patriarchy. I have come to hear, “Oooh, you’re barely showing!” not as a well-meaning compliment but as a weird expression of societal poisoning; what I understand is, “My beauty is inversely proportionate to the amount of space I take up.” Congratulating someone on how small they are — pregnant or not — is potentially unhealthy, irresponsible, and even insulting. Why should anyone be ashamed of healthy growth?
The second photo is from the #IntermissionFlow yoga class that I taught the other day, a screen grab that my friend sent to me afterwards. Not because he thought I looked fat, or out of shape, or ridiculous; on the contrary, he couldn’t believe I was balancing on one leg, twisting, and spouting a continuous stream of verbal cues for the group whilst housing a 26.5-week-large human in my midsection. He thought it was badass. You know what? I agree. Sure I look rounder, less photo-ready, less “cute” than in the first photo. But I’m nailing Utthita Hasta Padangustasana WITH A SMILE whilst growing a person. Boom.