Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina
In the last trimester of pregnancy, I found myself completely taken aback. It wasn’t the sleepless nights, grueling back pain, or sudden appearance of the linea negra that did it — these things, I expected. What shocked me most was how often people wanted to touch my pregnant belly. Once my tummy popped, it was as though extended family members, not-particularly-close friends, doctor’s assistants, and strangers alike simply couldn’t get enough of the ~magic~.
As a plus-size woman who’s been fat on and off since childhood (mostly on), I am used to my stomach being cause for “concern” and mockery by passerby. When I wear a low-rise bikini or skintight skirt, the outline of my belly regularly results in stares, jeers, and confusion. I’m used to having to defend my right to take up space; to being treated like a human being, and not some problem to be solved. I’m used to being avoided on public transportation. I’m used to seeing fellow flight passengers cringe as they realize that they’ll be sitting next to the fat chick.
Once again, my size has become a “problem” to be solved, and I am no longer an embodiment of evolutionary wonderment.
What I have never been used to is a constant stream of positive attention — the kind a pregnant belly seems to inspire. It was only when people began to eagerly place their hands on my stomach that I realized just how much humans love babies. We like how cute they are. We appreciate how weird and uncoordinated they can be. We enjoy their delicious-smelling heads and tiny feet.
What we don’t love, however, is fatness. Baby fat on toddlers might get a pass because it makes them look cuddly. Pregnancy weight gain might get a pass because it’s so undeniably natural. Fat, non-pregnant adult bodies never get a pass, though. My partner and close confidants excluded, no one’s wanted to touch my “magical” belly since my daughter was born 11 months ago. Once again, my size has become a “problem” to be solved, and I am no longer an embodiment of evolutionary wonderment.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect…
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