Among the various metaphoric boulders I juggle up the hills these days is a very tangible boulder-shaped physical burden—I am eight months pregnant with my third child.
But never mind all the implicit blessing-gift-miracle blahblahblah. My point here has nothing to do with the baby-to-be, nor do I intend to address the myriad physical “challenges” and “discomforts” (ahem) associated with late-stage pregnancy, or even labor and delivery.
(And for the record, I profess that the process of gestation and birth does not a mother make, no, no, no. But I digress.)
The burden I carry along with this ever-growing hitchhiker is a campaign against one certain phenomenon, the cultural inception of which is unclear to me:
It is “The Hot Mama.” WHY on EARTH should a woman in full womb-bloom continue to be a sex symbol?
And at what moment in our society did this infuriating standard come to be?
When, for example, did A-list celebrities begin flaunting their reproductive prowess? When did “the bump” become a must-have fashion accessory? When did the media’s fodder for physical self-image comparison expand to inform all pregnant women that two weeks is an acceptable time period for recovering one’s pre-pregnancy figure?
I’m no well-read student of feminist theories, but it smells to me an awful lot like an extension of the objectification of women.
For sure, it’s fabulous that maternity wear has evolved to allow women to dress in a more flattering, fashionable way during her big-belly months. But why pressure her to have a “tight bod with a pod,” as one web ad proclaims? Why does a pregnant women need to look sexy in a tube top and mini skirt?
Power to her if she can, and if she wants it and gets it, good for her. But while it’s a lovely option, it really shouldn’t become our standard. The last thing our national health needs is to pressure pregnant women to the point when more and more are battling eating disorders, as plenty already are. The risk of such to the unborn is just not cool.
To be clear, I have friends who are naturally predisposed to a perfectly adorable “all baby” pregnant countenance. And I begrudge them nothing. But I am built to bear children while plowing peasant fields while nursing toddlers in a sling and am genetically prepared to do so throughout long winters of famine. In reproductive mode, for certain, this body simply will not risk letting itself starve. (And yeah, okay, in non-reproductive mode this body clings to the same survival instinct.)
Taking this quickly on the trickle-down, the conspicuous consumption machines have also transformed the world of baby gear:
If celebrities are having babies on the front page, there exists an opportunity to convince the child-bearing public that a $500 (or could you believe $999!) stroller is indeed worth coveting. That there are ten thousand essential items to buybuybuybuybuy. After all, why plunk the baby in a sink for her quick semi-weekly bath when you can have a bathtub that filters out the dirty water during the 60 seconds it takes to bathe an infant? Why stick a pacifier in the pocket of your purse when you can buy a pacifier carrier? After all, it comes in the same pattern as your iPhone carrier and there’s a coordinating $40 changing pad. Heaven forbid your child’s dirty diapers be changed on a towel or blanket that doesn’t match her Gucci diaper bag.
Okay. I’ve made my point.
Perhaps it’s just an embittered, uncomfortable hormone machine rambling now, but this is what’s on my mind.
…Because someday the daughter I’ll meet in a few more weeks may decide to have children, too.