Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pregnant in public

This post was inspired by a pregnant woman I passed as I walked through a local shopping mall earlier today.

She was at least seven months pregnant, and wearing a crop top. It's the bare midriff fashion, writ large.

Was I offended? Certainly not! I think pregnancy is beautiful … even sexy, though the comment may shock some of you.

I have never understood women who fret about their appearance during pregnancy and confuse it with getting fat. Definitely not the same thing.

[more of Kevin Thom's pregnancy portfolio]

Not so long ago, pregnancy was somehow shameful. I suppose that everything connected with reproduction was supposed to be private. So it wasn't good form to be pregnant in public. Instead, upper class women were confined for the duration of their pregnancies:
Historically the question of what women should do during pregnancy was a highly class-based one. Upper- and middle-class European and North American women of previous centuries were kept in confinement and forced leisure. To be visibly pregnant was constituted as a bit of a social shame, and women were discouraged from appearing in public with the evidence of reproduction swelling their bellies (plus, it was kinda tough to fit into those corsets after a few months, although many women tried and subsequently did quite a bit of damage to themselves and the baby). However, being immobilized and enshrined in the house was a luxury not available to the majority of the female population. Most worked at some sort of manual labour right up until their delivery.
[Thanks to Mary P. for alerting me to this practice.]

Even just a few years ago, women were much more discreet about their swollen bellies. Maternity clothes were baggy (and unflattering), but they have evolved, too.

This summer I have noticed a radical change in the fashion: maternity clothes can be form-fitting or sheer. And today, the woman in the crop top, proudly exposing her belly for all of us to celebrate with her.

Pregnant in public. How delightful!


At 10:21 AM, August 31, 2005, Blogger Mary P. said...

I was in university (in the 80's) when I first saw a visible pregnant belly. Indian students would wear their saris right through their pregnancy. Saris have a draw-string skirt, that's endlessly adjustable. On top is a little crop top with short sleeves. The fabric drapes voluptuously over all. So there'd be a bit of belly peeking between the top and the skirt part.

It was startling. I'd never seen anyone show their belly before. And this from a culture that we North Americans see as very conservative in matters of dress and comportment! To this day, PDA's are frowned upon. But pregnancy? That's just normal.

I'm glad we're finally getting there!

(PDA=public display of affection)

At 1:30 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger KZ the Turtlegirl said...

I took part of my pg-belly-cue from The Kids in the Hall (I know, that makes no sense out of context!), as one of their opening images on the show was a seriously pregnant woman frolicing in the grass with a bare belly. I took that as a reminder that I simply had to have fun while pregnant.

And I did.

I have to admit, though, at first it was a little embarrassing telling people when I was due. I could almost see them calculate in their heads when I had sex.

Found your blog off of Aaron's site. When I have more time, I'll have to look closer at it. Looks promising!


At 2:38 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger Aginoth said...

North Americans can't cope with Pregnant Woman?

How do they cope with a breast-feeding mother?

Scotland recently passed a law making it an offece to interfere with or discourage a breastfeeding mother in public place

Like the Blog q I've placed a link to you on mine.

At 6:03 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Welcome to my blog! You never know what I'm going to be writing about from one day to the next, so I'm glad the current post was one you liked.

If people were really calculating when you had sex, I'm appalled. But not quite shocked; I know there are plenty of small-minded people in the world.

Welcome to you as well! On first reading, I mistook you for Mrs. Aginoth, who has visited before.

I would have said that North Americans can deal with pregnant women just fine. But KZ's comment makes me wonder.

As for breast-feeding, it generally isn't an issue anymore — at least, not in Canada's major cities. I've seen women breast-feed their children on public transit, for example, without anyone batting an eye. But I don't know how it is perceived in small town Canada or in the USA.

p.s. I'm impressed by the Scottish law you mention. The times, they are a-changin', and sometimes for the better.

At 6:23 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger KZ the Turtlegirl said...

To quote Pat Robertson (which I don't often do, LOL) 'I was misunderstood."

In my mind's eye seeing people figure out when I had sex was more about my own puritanic baggage thinking they were doing that, rather than people actually being shocked that I must have had sex in order to get pregnant.

However, after one pregnancy, several hundred times telling all medicos when I had my last period, and writing thousands of words discussing trying to concieve and pregnancy, the shyness wore off.

I don't remember ever getting a disapproving look for having a belly.

At 6:35 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger ~Deb said...

I have to say that there is something incredibly beautiful about a pregnant woman. Not only because of her belly, but it's the glow the woman gets, the way they carry themselves,---it's absolutely beautiful. I'm glad to see someone else appreciates it as much as I do.

Great blog!

At 6:40 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger 49erDweet said...

I'm an old geezer, and remember "scanty" maternity swimming suits being widely (not a pun) available in the So Cal environment during the late 1940's, so this has been a gradually evolving mores for quite a while. I suspect that this custom was more common back then in tropical environments, and less in the more northern climes – due basically to daytime temperature conditions.

What has changed recently IMHO is the publishing of explicit "belly shot" photos of beautifully PG women.

I agree with Q that this condition generally enhances feminine beauty, and also feel like personally thanking every nursing mother I see - not for the potential 'peep; show (as some might think) but for caring enough for their child to give them such a great start in life!

And KZ, could the quizzical folks just be mentally calculating how close a distant friend who is known to be expecting might look in comparison to you - or something like that?

I would hope their curiosity would be aroused by something more substantive than when you “did it”. If that is the case, how dull must be their lives.

At 6:46 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I don't hear too many comments one way or another about pregnant women. If anything it is usually questions about where so and so got her maternity clothes.

And while I have read about complaints about breastfeeding in public we didn't experience that with either of our children.

That is it from Los Angeles.

At 7:04 PM, August 31, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no problem with pregnant women. I don't think they're "fat." But you're missing part of the reason they might feel that way.

My husband treated me like a fat leper when I was pregnant. He acted as though I would never regain my former figure. HE made me feel gross. He refused to have sex with me. He stayed away from home.

We are divorced now. But don't just blame women for their own insecurities. Sometimes it's borne out of their man's.

At 9:56 PM, August 31, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks for explaining.

I know a woman, one generation older than me, who was embarrassed about the kinds of procedures she would have to undergo when she became pregnant. She carefully chose a female doctor to make things a little easier.

Except it turned out that her doctor was training several interns. So the first time she went in for an examination, four young men performed an internal on her in addition to the doctor she had carefully selected.

Nothing ever embarrassed her again after that experience.

Thanks for the comment. That "glow" is one of the things that distinguishes pregnancy from being fat. Pregnant women radiate health and vitality, and I'm with you — it is a big part of what makes them compellingly attractive.

Thanks for providing a longer-range perspective. I wouldn't be surprised if southern California was at the cutting edge of the trend; so many trends begin there.

Thanks for providing an American perspective on Aginoth's breast-feeding question (or at least an LA perspective).

I'm glad you felt comfortable sharing your experience. That's why I allow anonymous comments on this blog. Some things would be hard to share if you had to identify yourself.

And thanks for adding another dimension I hadn't covered. Your experience isn't unique, I know; some men find pregnancy off-putting. (And what's wrong with them, I wonder?)

Even when the anxiety is entirely in the woman's own mind, it still can't be separated from broader social pressures. After all, heroin chic was the ideal for women not so long ago.

I hope your self-image is intact today, even though your marriage evidently dealt you some hard knocks.

At 10:44 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger M said...

reading your post reminded me what a wonderful experience it was to be pregnant and to give birth. no experience quite like it. lol, i miss it :-) but with 3 kids already, i can't afford one more.

nice post

At 11:55 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks, MJ. I think it's wonderful that your experience of pregnancy was so wonderful!

At 1:19 PM, June 06, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I KNOW it is a ME problem and I am working on it but here is where I am at on this:

I have an issue with seeing pregnant women in public, on TV, magazines etc. Especially bare-bellied.

Frankly I don't have any interest in seeing you make it, certainly not in watching you deliver it and that extends to seeing you carry it around in between.

I may be "small-minded" but it makes me extremely uncomfortable to see.

I also don't particularly like babies or kids so that could be the root issue...

Thanks for the Anonymous option so I could get this unpopular opinion off my chest.


Post a Comment

<< Home