If you haven’t struggled with your weight in the past, pregnancy may be your first experience with largeness. Pregnant ≠ Fat. Substantial weight gain is important for a healthy pregnancy. But even though pregnant women are *supposed* to gain weight (and get cross-examined if they don’t seem to gain enough) weight gain in pregnancy can still evoke feelings about being out of control of your body. For pretty much every woman, being pregnant means coming to terms with a larger sized you. Sometimes this is fun, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes women have no problem dealing with pregnancy weight gain and have a harder time in the months afterward, when the baby weight hangs around indefinitely. Even though it’s totally normal for women’s bodies to maintain some weight gain on after having a baby, weight is such an issue in our culture that women can feel unattractive and even depressed by their new (temporary) bodies, and impatient to get back to the skinny ideal.
So when I came across this incredibly great piece by Lindy West about weight and body image, I thought this is just the kind of thing a pregnant woman needs to hear. Really, it’s just the kind of thing anyone needs to hear. Who couldn’t use a reminder that her body is f****ing gorgeous, just the way it is?
“I have never wanted anything as much as I have wanted a new body. I am aware every day that other people find my body disgusting. I always thought that some day—when I finally stop failing—I will become smaller, and when I become smaller literally everything will get better (I’ve heard It Gets Better)! My life can begin! I will get the clothes that I want, the job that I want, the love that I want. It will be great! Think how great it will be to buy some pants or whatever at J. Crew. Oh, man. Pants. Instead, my body stays the same.
There is not a fat person on earth who hasn’t lived this way. Clearly this is a TERRIBLE WAY TO EXIST. Also, strangely enough, it did not cause me to become thin. So I do not believe any of it anymore, because fuck it very much.
This is my body. It is MINE. I am not ashamed of it in any way. In fact, I love everything about it. Men find it attractive. Clothes look awesome on it. My brain rides around in it all day and comes up with funny jokes. Also, I don’t have to justify its awesomeness/attractiveness/healthiness/usefulness to anyone, because it is MINE. Not yours.”
Lindy’s piece was inspired by a rather shocking back and forth with the advice columnist and writer Dan Savage, who apparently has a big problem with fat people. You can read the rest of her response here.