Today at work, I was helping an older woman who can sometimes be a challenge. While I was walking her from my office and to the lobby, she continued to make small talk while I worried after her and her cane. Then she turned to me and asked if I was pregnant, her gaze resting for a moment on my mid-section. I laughed and told her "no, I wish!" Then I mentioned that after 4 pregnancies I still had a little baby pouch. That's what we call it in my house - that leftover baby bump - my baby pouch.
Apparently, what this old lady said upset my two co-workers much more than it did me. In fact, my assistant hugged me sweetly and told me not to forget that this woman is often quite icky to us. She said the customer she was helping was appalled for me. I reiterated that I was cool; it wasn't a big deal to me. Honestly my loves, as I've mentioned to you in the past, I would love to have another baby. But I have another birthday looming on the horizon, and reality is rising in my throat. Also, not to brag, but I'm only 14 pounds away from my college weight at this point in my life. I've got suit pants I need to take in so I can stop using safety pins. I look pretty good.
But guess what, I looked pretty good 16 pounds ago, too. Aside from being mindful of kidney stones and my back, this body can still get things done. Work, chores, errands, walks, extra curricular activities (bow chicka bow bow), more work, more chores ... I just keep moving. Yes, I have a baby pouch ... ok. It doesn't stop me from getting done what I need to do. It doesn't bother the male I made the babies with who created the pouch. And not for nothing, but I've had other offers, so it's clearly not bothering anybody else either.
So why were my assistant and the other people within earshot bothered for me? Probably because we've been taught at a very young age that our worth as women is 100% tied to our appearance and, in correlation, our age. The older we get we learn that we better keep ourselves as attractive as possible to the opposite sex, lest we incur irrelevance in direct proportion to our lack of desirability. That's why in 2016 a woman running for President has her pantsuits critiqued and her appearance mocked. Whether you like her, and by extension, her experience and policies or not isn't the point I'm trying to make. Have you heard people make fun of her appearance, her clothes, her age or her weight? Of course you have. And that is born from misogyny, first and foremost, and second from her refusing to conform.
I own my baby pouch. I will work that baby pouch. Far from allowing myself to be embarrassed or chastised by someone else's words or perceptions of what I should be, I will know what and who I am and how that is so much more than the sum of my parts.