Since it’s been a while, allow me to present a selection of pictures in payment for your patience.
27 weeks, in the same position as the baseline:
29 weeks, taking video of the three most adorable vow-renewal attendants you could imagine (I haven’t gotten permission from the parents of two of the three to share any of the pics of them, so you’ll have to trust me):
And two days ago, at 30 weeks (little did I know when I bought this dress it would make such a fabulous maternity top):
(You can tell which picture me and my dinky camera phone did NOT take, aye?)
And now, a wordy tangent:
All the clothed pictures you’ll see of me from here on out (until the Fetus decides to come out, at least) are likely to be either in a dress or wearing a dress-as-top, for the simple and pragmatic reason that that’s all I have that fits. It’s a strange feeling, to dress so femme, not on the occasional whim, when the mood strikes, but every single day, because there aren’t any other choices that cover these gawdawful belly panels.
And it’s all the stranger because I’ve long had a complicated and difficult relationship with femininity. Internalized misogyny thanks to a second-wave era upbringing, the micro-culture of my nonconformist family, having my body take on a woman’s shape before I was ready to let go of a child’s life, a lifetime surrounded by fat shame and fat hate, including in my own family, and a deeply hurting psyche that said (and, as we’ll see, says) I’m not good enough, worthy enough, beautiful enough for beautiful things: these all contributed to a discomfort with anything “feminine” and especially with any desire of mine for femininity, for “girly”, for pretty, for nice. Wanting these things is a sign of weakness, these factors conspire to inform me, a deviance, an acquiescence to colonization by patriarchy.
It pains me to write these words, and know that some part of me still — always? — believes them to be true, for all I can see their falseness.
It’s getting better. I can buy make up now without wanting to hide it (though I will never want to wear it more than twice a year). I can ask for recommendations for and schedule an appointment with a hair stylist (though I will never buy Product, for a variety of reasons not least of which is I can’t be arsed). I can shop for and say I want a gorgeous, versatile dress (though I will always pull jeans on by default).
But when the dress shows up wrong: I can’t stop from hating myself for how much it bothers me. I can’t admit how much I care. Because it’s wrong. It’s weak. It’s shameful. It’s just a silly dress, and I shouldn’t be bothering with them anyway, it’s all foppery and femininity and I’m too good and I’m too ugly for such frilly finery.
It’s just a dress, and if I care, then I’m just a girl.
My brain is not always a stable or comfortable place to be. (But then, whose is?)
I care. And there’s a girl inside of me, who hated pink but wanted to sometimes, just sometimes, love it too, who hurts like hell when she’s finally allowed something pretty and it all goes pear shaped, because perhaps she’s allowed an indulgence, but only if it’s clear that it doesn’t matter, that it’s a silly pastime, a self-aware amusement and nothing more. But she’s not allowed to care.
It’s that message, from my own mind, that hurts more than anything. And the tears that flow from that only fuel the disdain.
The whole situation is more than a little ridiculous.
But it’s also entirely serious.
The dress in question, by the way, is the one in the second picture above. I’ve been assured it looked lovely, and it went well enough on the day that I didn’t devolve into a panicky puddle (it helped that my mantra was It’s Not My Day), but it didn’t show up the way it was supposed to. And I wasn’t supposed to care. But, of course, I did.
It would be easy to laugh it off and blame pregnancy hormones, and certainly that’s a culturally accepted out. But although they complicate it, exaggerate it, I cannot lie and say they created this too-much-caring, this contempt-of-caring.
For if nothing else, it’s not unique to me. If you listened to the Think Out Loud radio show I participated in1, you heard much confusion between gender-neutral parenting and anti-femininity parenting, where the point was not so much to offer our children options but to erase any leanings toward the girly.
The activist in me sighed to hear it, but the girly-girl, the long-denied dress-wearer, cried.
- And if anyone knows where to find or has made a transcript of it, please let me know! ↩