I have a dress from Target that I purchased this summer. There is no shame in my confession. Target has become the go-to store when I need something, cheap, fashionable and most importantly, comfortable. This dress is from the Mossimo line which has become a staple in my wardrobe. Whenever I need anything: a skirt, a top, a casual frock and have looked around (even at more expensive fancy schmancy stores) I often end up finding exactly what I want from that designer. Yes, designer. That’s what I said. Target has name designers that contribute to their selections. Due to the volume of women who need reasonably priced alternatives it would be foolish not to get in bed with the mega-chain.
This dress is creme with lavender, black and beige markings that look as if someone drew on the material with thick chalk. It has a v-neck and short sleeves that hang loose and unfitted around my arms. There is no waist which makes it perfect when the idea of anything hugging my middle is as desirable as wearing a fur in summer. (Not that I’d wear fur in any season. I’m opposed to fur. Go Peta!)Basically, the dress is completely shapeless but when it falls on your body it skims your curves in the right places and looks quite pretty. It is a welcome relief when I don’t feel like wearing anything but my pajamas outdoors. “Attention designers! Ready –to wear- pajama-inspired-clothes will sell like Girl Scout Cookies. You won’t be able to keep your stuff on the racks.”
The other thing about this dress that makes me love it so is that I’ve been able to wear it during my pregnancy. The fact that it is not maternity clothes makes me feel like I’m Gisele Bundchen who recently stated she was able to wear all her regular clothes during her pregnancy and barely gained any weight. This was paired with a post pregnancy picture of her looking runway-read while carrying her three month old son. I was so happy for her when I saw that. I really was.
I am eight months pregnant and I am wrestling with something that could make or break the next fifty-six days. I am huge. There is no other word to describe it. I weigh approximately the same as I did at the end of my last pregnancy but overall I‘ve gained less weight. Does that make sense? Unlike Gisele, I never made it back to my starting weight after my daughter was born but strangely, like Gisele, I was able to get back into all the clothes I wore pre-pregnancy and felt relatively good about myself so all was well. Even though I’ve gained less weight I’m the same size I was in my previous ninth month but I’m only in my eighth month which means I’m slowing down much sooner, uncomfortable much earlier and-ready-to-pop-big for much longer. This needs a diagram.
Did I mention I’m big? My side profile is something to behold. I could rival Hitchcock’s shadow. I think my breasts weigh three pounds each and my butt is bootylicious to say the least. Here’s the thing. Here is what I am wrestling with. None of this has to be bad a thing. I’m pregnant. Why not enjoy this last hurrah and love my largesse?
That question brings me back to the Mossimo dress because what started out as a super-cute non-maternity-option in the beginning and middle of my ten months (yes, we’re pregnant for ten months but we’ve been lied to and told it’s nine) is now on the verge of looking like a super- cute- tarp. Some might suggest I stop wearing it due to this transition. I suggest that I keep wearing it and let go of this illusion that at this point anything I wear could make me look skinny. It shouldn’t matter that the dress covers my butt and stomach like a spray tan. I’m frickin’ comfortable. Comfort is all that matters.
I bought a couple more maternity tarps recently and I feel quite sexy in them. I wear them with black boots and I’m convinced I look good. When I first purchased them, I stopped by my sister’s place to try them on and get her approval. (I do this whenever I’m uncertain of an item pregnant or not) She always tells me the truth. She looked me over from the front view and said, “Cute.” When I showed her my side profile she said, “Well, what are you gonna do?” Not exactly the response you want to hear from someone evaluating how you look but in the end it pushed me to answer the question. “What was I gonna do?” Nothing, I decided. Nothing other than wear those dresses and anything else that doesn’t constrain me.
I’m going to look in the mirror and accept myself. Did you just read that? I’m going to look in the mirror and accept myself. My goal is that this mantra carries on when I am not pregnant no matter how long it takes me to lose the weight or whether I ever do. Maybe, I won’t have a built in excuse like pregnancy to be big but if I follow this new code of acceptance I won’t feel I need to make excuses. We all do the best we can, don’t we? If we’re not doing the best we can there’s a reason holding us back that is probably begging us to give ourselves a break.
None of this is easy and I certainly have my moments of doubt. The other day I wore a Monica-Lewinsky-inspired, blue, short sleeved, knee length dress with a belt. I walked through a hallway where I teach and some college students were waiting outside a classroom. Every single one of them looked at my stomach as I passed by. I don’t know what they were thinking but it was hard not to feel self conscious in that moment.
I’m a moving target. Where else are they supposed to look? Why do I assume they were thinking something bad? Conditioning, that’s why. We women are taught to cover and hide anything that doesn’t fall in line even when we are blessed with child. You would have thought Gabourey Sidibe (the Academy Award nominee for her searing performance in Precious) had murdered someone in Howard Stern’s family the way he spoke of her weight on air."There's the most enormous, fat black chick I've ever seen. She is enormous," he described as if her weight relinquished her from any rights. His sidekick and enemy to women Robin Quivers agreed. Whether the actress is obese or not the hatred Stern expressed was undeserved and gives fuel to the fear of fat women feel on a daily basis.
Each time I reach for clothes I have to do a quick check of my confidence meter. Can I pull this off today? Will I not be moved? Today the answer was no. I wanted to wear this new dark tan ruffley number but I forgot my mantra and put on black pants and a shirt. The shirt isn’t fooling anybody but I feel a little less out there. Maybe I’ll change my outfit later after I look in the mirror and accept myself then conquer my world with pride.