“Recovering from my family vacation.”
“If I could remember your name I’d ask you where I left my car keys.”
“Could you speak up? My son’s a bassist!”
Before there were Facebook status updates there were T-shirt status updates. I was and still am a big fan of these tees. They provide just enough information to communicate with a passerby and perhaps elicit a smile about one’s view of the world; but not so much that you feel too exposed or vulnerable. They work for introverts and extroverts alike and provide a canvas for puns, word plays, and visual humor. I’m not talking about political tees, sports tees or college tees.They also convey information and may trigger feelings of affinity or disgust in the reader, but they don’t relay the same message of, “This is who and HOW I am right now”.
“Because I am the Mommy, THAT’S why.”
“Sometimes I wonder why that Frisbee is getting closer and closer and then…it hits me…”
“What if the hokey pokey IS what it’s ALL about!”
But there is one t-shirt that to this day I have a difficult time relating to. It has the word, “Baby” and an arrow pointing down towards the belly of the woman wearing the tee. This shirt has always made me feel uncomfortable. Yes, I suppose one could say this too is a status update tee, letting the world know that the woman is pregnant…but it is more than that. It is an excuse. If the purpose of the shirt was to let the world know how the future mom is feeling about being pregnant, wouldn’t it make more sense for the shirt to read, “I’m pregnant and it’s freaking me out!” Or, “Woo Hoo I’m pregnant!” Or, “I am a pod and my body has been invaded by a body snatcher who will soon be my son or daughter!” Absolutely. But the underlying reason behind the baby arrow down tee is to let the world know one thing and one thing only, and that is,
“I am not really fat I am pregnant.”
“Please don’t think I am fat, because I am not fat I am pregnant.”
“Don’t despise me or feel disgusted by me because my stomach is big, it’s not my fault, I’m not fat, I’m pregnant!”
This makes me very very sad, and lest I alienate anyone who thinks I’m not empathetic, I understand wanting to declare to the world that you are not in the body you are used to being in. Being pregnant changes everything about our bodies forever. Each person’s experience of pregnancy, while similar in many ways, is also completely unique depending on the relationship they already have with their body. One part of being pregnant that I really enjoyed was that for the first time in my life I felt that I didn’t have to apologize for being fat. I felt a love and an affinity for my body that I had NEVER felt before! I wasn’t apologizing for my size. I was reveling in the fact that other people were accepting my belly, and yet I knew that concurrently they were assuming that as soon as I gave birth I would get back to “normal” and have the body I “should” have. It was like a time bomb ticking away…I only had a limited amount of time during which I had permission to love my body. It reminded me of the times in my life I was going through thinner phases and people liked me more. The underbelly of those situations for me was, if history was an accurate indicator, I’d better enjoy it while I could because I knew the weight loss was temporary.
A long time has passed since I had my baby and I’ve come a long way in terms of my body image. It took a great deal of work to embrace my body’s curves and stop feeling like a failure because my body didn’t please others. Perhaps it is the fact that I have found some peace in this arena that these tee shirts make me so sad.
Why do we have to excuse ourselves for looking pregnant when we are pregnant??? Why do we feel compelled to let the world know we are pregnant in order to make sure that no one thinks we are “just fat?” We need to proclaim to all who may see us,
“No this isn’t just fat…this is Just Fat, Righteous Fat, Explainable, Excusable,Temporary, Baby Fat.”
The changes our bodies go through while pregnant are enormous. They have to be…we are creating another living being. What a lack of respect it is to our offspring that we come out of this miraculous (a cliché I know but it’s true) process only to hate our bodies for having changed during the course of such an amazing journey. And what about the magazines and TV shows that focus their critical and scolding lenses on celebrity baby bumps and chastise women for not losing their baby fat fast enough? Or perhaps equally as bad is how they shower the new moms with praise if they lose the baby weight two seconds after giving birth.
Perhaps we need to wear t-shirts with the word BODY and an arrow pointing downward. No excuse…just a declaration that this is my body…fat, thin, muscular, squishy…just my body…beautiful at any size…baby on the way, or not.
Hmm, I think I’ll print one up and add it to my Deahtees (pronounced deities) collection along with some of my other faves:
- ASDAH’s T-shirt “No BODY left behind”
- “We spend the first half of our lives hiding things from our parents and the second half hiding things from our kids.”
- “Sarcasm, just one of the many services I offer.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go update my Facebook status!
Dr. Deah Schwartz has more than 20 years experience using therapeutic arts, music, drama and recreation activities in a variety of clinical and educational settings with clients ranging in age from 5 to 80+. She has a Doctorate in Education, a BA in Theater, an MS in Therapeutic Recreation, and an MA in Creative Arts Education and is a Nationally Certified Recreation Therapist. This background, coupled with her fervent belief in size acceptance, has led to her passionate involvement in the “Leftovers Workbook/DVD set,” that helps people make peace with their bodies. She is also a co-author and original cast member of “Leftovers: The Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater,” and a co-founder of Education Through Therapeutic Arts (ETTA).
Her inspirational and thought-provoking posts are syndicated with permission on More of Me to Love from her blog, Tasty Morsels.