It really is a minefield being a woman.
I bang on about these things a lot, I know, but I won't apologise.
I believe these issues should be at the very least acknowledged, hopefully addressed, and, in the long run, behaviour actually adjusted accordingly.
And a change in behaviour can only come through reflection on previous actions - something that I am trying to apply to myself just as much as I do to others. So I like to think of these posts as a sort of cleansing activity, for me mostly, but also for whoever reads it.
As a nearly-30 year old woman, I think that I have a fairly good grasp on a lot of issues around women, feminism, the patriarchy, body image, body positivity, sexism, misogyny etc. At least from my own privileged perspective as a cisgendered, able-bodied, heterosexual, white female, and with the added caveat that I am fully aware that I will always be learning more.
Still, the one thing that continues to catch me by surprise is the way in which the discussion of a woman's body/appearance seems to be totally permissible.
And I don't mean in the media or on the internet...I mean TO HER ACTUAL FACE.
Since getting pregnant I have found this phenomenon to be hugely amplified. Suddenly its fine for family/colleagues/acquaintances/random strangers to comment on my size. And along with this comes the additional sting of comments about what I am eating or drinking.
Wouldn't it be completely rude and just fucking weird for somebody, anybody, to out of the blue pipe up with "do you think you should be eating that? you should really watch your blood sugar levels" as you are about to eat a biscuit? Totally out of context, with no prior knowledge of any of your dietary habits day to day, or really of you as a person.
The judgement is unreal.
What makes it worse, to my mind, is that these types of comments more often than not come from other women. Women that have children, and therefore have experienced the mind-boggling rollercoaster ride of hormones, anxiety, and self-doubt that pregnancy so often embodies, no less!
Why would they think this okay? Would they say these things to someone with an eating disorder, or who is overweight? Why are my body and the choices I make to nourish it suddenly fair game to anyone with an opinion?
After that incident (yes, that actually happened to me), I now find I am second-guessing myself, worrying about my food and drink choices as well as the portions and amounts.
After a terrible first trimester, when all signs of an appetite vanished and food was just a chore that facilitated taking my vitamins, actually wanting food for the last few months has been bliss. I know I have been eating far more than I would have pre-pregnancy, but I had 3 months to make up for and, to be honest, a growing sense of freedom from the rigors of the seemingly ubiquitous dieting/fitness pressure of pre-pregnancy life.
I was embracing my growing body, enjoying my baby's kicks after eating something sweet, and thinking no more about it.
Now, I am self-conscious. I find myself cutting in with "oh I am huge, and I still have 3 months to go, can you believe it!" at every opportunity, just to avoid someone else saying or subtly insinuating it. I find myself monitoring my calorie intake a little more closely, even though I know I was eating healthily if heartily before. I find myself attempting to wear more 'slimming' outfits. I find myself...well, ridiculous.
So this post is my way of cleansing my mind, getting rid of these crazy thoughts, and stopping myself from going down a path that will only lead to misery (and which is already pretty bloody miserable).
There will be time to think about 'getting back into shape' and 'losing the baby weight' when the baby is here. There will be time, but now is not it. I am no rush.
My body is doing something incredible, and I am feeding it and moving it in the best way I can.
Every time I think about the baby growing inside me - reaching milestones, getting strong, gaining weight, and preparing to meet the world every day - I am amazed by myself. I am amazed by women's bodies.
We are amazing. I am amazing. And I am going to enjoy every moment of this wonderful experience, delicious biscuits and all.