sartorial inspirations

Last summer I was tremendously pregnant. Thankfully, I am not this summer but I also don’t have a clue what I should wear. It’s all terribly vain and I have this gorgeous baby that I love and how could I possibly be concerned with fashion but c’mon (for a primer on how that should sound in your head, listen to Pregnant Women are Smug).

Polka Dots! from Life Appreciation Blog.

Polka Dots! from Life Appreciation Blog.

I need to wear clothes and I want to look cute. In addition to completely and totally changing your world view, children change your body. I now have muscles and not so muscly bits, and it’s probably shitty of me to complain about losing weight and not knowing what to wear, but it’s true.

I apparently also lost my fashion sense when I gave birth – I haven’t a clue what to do with myself so I’ve started a Pinterest board. Like all good people of the internet.

A lot of my “aaahhhh! clothes!” freaking is coming from impending situations where I will have to hang out with people older than 7. Those who don’t wear tutus as regular street wear.

I’ve told Mr I would definitely do What Not to Wear, despite the obvious love they have for lady blazers and pastels, if only out of desperation for someone to assure me that I can still look cool even though I’m in my 30s, married and have three kids.

This happened after I had D five years ago, which is how I discovered Lady Smaggle, whom I adore but I could wear a leather maxi for about three seconds. Her style is impeccable and I adore her but I need access for feeding B. I own exactly one white shirt that I liberally spray with stain remover whether there is a stain or not, just because you never know, it’s white and I have kids.

Pretty much everything I own is black, if only because it is forgiving of most stains and I’ve fallen for the lie that well kept black yoga pants are acceptable pants to wear about – though I’ve only worn them out when I’m on my way to the gym.

This is life one yearish older. You’re obsessed that you probably can’t look cool anymore – mostly because you don’t know what that means.

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the belly, the body and aren’t you huge

I’ve been trying for a little while to get my thoughts organized on the matter of growing larger, particularly in light of being told every day I’m huge (no shit – I’m 6 months pregnant and 5 feet tall, exactly where does the weight go?) and the ensuing media storm around Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight gain with such vile descriptions as “fat”. Getting bigger I can handle, when one is a Turducken it is to be expected as the baby needs somewhere to go. With my kids, it is straight out in front of me, at least by a foot and that is where all the weight I gain throughout this pregnancy will stay. From behind, I do not look like a turducken. At the market a couple of weeks ago, a wine seller came to ply his wares to me … until I turned around and nearly knocked him over because he was standing too close. What I cannot stand is being told constantly that I’m “just soooo big”, accompanied by gestures usually reserved for describing the girth of Santa Claus. The incessant comments about My Body. The words can be couched around “the belly”, making it more of an inanimate thing, rather than a significant part of my body. The fact remains that when you are pregnant, you are public domain and ought to accept the comments with more tact than the person giving them.

At no other time in a woman’s life is it appropriate to comment so intimately on a woman’s body than when she is pregnant (obviously, I mean to her face – we can all be a catty bunch). There is a certain degree of decorum surrounding our public interactions and one of those is that it is rude to point at someone’s body and give your opinion, unless you are a medical professional, and even then a doctor has tact.

My thoughts have been a jumble lately around why it bothers me so much to have someone, from across a room or other public space, point and exclaim, “The belly! IT’S SO BIG! LOOK AT YOU!” or actually call others to come and look at me as if I were a damn sideshow freak. I take care of my lady ‘stache, thank you very much. Oh, maybe because IT’S MY BODY YOU ARE STARING AT, so thanks.

Women’s bodies are constantly under scrutiny, for being too thin, too fat, too beautiful, simple, mousy, flabby, pasty, too dark, too light… anything and everything (check out this post). I do not know why it changes from passive aggressive talking around the woman where she may or may not hear to when you are pregnant and it is said to your face, perhaps because people have this concept that a pregnant body belongs to the community because it is not just the woman but also a future generation in there. This has as much to do with norms as our own beauty insecurities. By pointing out that I do not have the body I used to have, and will likely never have again (only a proximate guess at it), the commenter and myself are fitting ourselves snugly into established beauty rules that are archaic, crappy and ought to go, but that also dictate that there is a standard and neither one of us is fitting into them, so we might as well be miserable about it.

There is a beauty standard and not one of us really knows what it is, but we sure as hell can tell you what it is not. Everyone.

dressing the pregnant belly

Pregnancy is such a fun time. Bloating and increasing middle area girth means that all those cute clothes that are neatly folded in your dresser or going to remain neatly folded in that same drawer for some time to come. After my first child I was devastated to discover that no matter how hard I tried, my old pants would not fit me. My (still rather) narrow hips had widened just enough that I had to pack all those jeans, skirts and dress pants in a big black garbage bag and haul them off to Goodwill. Let’s not lament the clothes we will find irrelevant but figure out how we’re going to look cute now.

Back from a casual walk in the park with Mr and hanging with a kitten. Neither one of us can see my feet.

I started showing early this time around. Mr has said I should stop telling people I’m less than 5 months along, it freaks them out. Let this be a lesson to you, once stretched around a nearly 9 pound human, stomach muscles are not going back and they will gladly take any opportunity to boomerang out again. I was left in a quandary. I had donated all my maternity clothes because I didn’t need them anymore.

Surprise, surprise.

It didn’t take too long (read: I was 8 weeks and showing) before my jeans were uncomfortable, as in, I felt like it was 10 minutes post-Christmas dinner every time I ate, breathed or drank a glass of water. I needed to do something.

Leggings and long skirts as cute short dresses it was. I never got around to buying belly bands but I did score some maternity pants at a new-to-me clothing sale. I bought one pair of jeans and one pair of capris. I am loathe to buy them new because they are ridiculously expensive.

‘Tis not impossible to maintain the cute while pregnant. Long shirts from Mr with a belt cinched above the belly function as a dress, paired with leggings and it’s cuteness. Skirts with a plain band (think A-line, no zippers or buttons) worn as a dress are tops. I know the rule is “no leggings as pants” but are you really going to tell a pregnant woman she’s making a fashion faux-pas? I don’t much care if your bum is covered or so tight the leggings are see-through. And, tights should never, ever be worn as pants, which I have seen. That is tacky.

Mind you, I’m short and this style works for me but it was a way for me to start reusing some of the clothes I already had without busting my already broken bank account.

a month-long awareness extravaganza

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month. It’s also Sexual Assault Awareness and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. I understand the initiative behind awareness days and months, it gives educators and regular people a reason to talk about different issues and keep them in the forefront, but if you listen to incredibly loud earphones, park in dark alleys and bake yourself to a crisp every other month of the year, the point of May’s awareness initiative is lost. Those promises you make to yourself and your family needs to carry through for the rest of the year. Not just today or until the end of the month.

The true intent of these awareness months is that we make life changes and sometimes those are really difficult. Do you know what else is difficult? Coping with hearing loss. PTSD from a sexual assault. Chemo. If that feels extreme to you, life is extreme. We all have this concept that it could simply not happen to me, it’s someone else’s problem. Well, sometimes it’s not someone else’s problem. Life is not a feel-good, inspirational movie starring Queen Latifah and Ryan Gosling’s ex-girlfriend.

I have written before about what it was like to learn Boy has unilateral hearing loss and it does not change who he is but it will have a lasting affect on his life. Roadie for a metal band is not a viable career option for him, not unless he wants to expand that hearing loss to both ears. The precautions we take with protecting his hearing (watching for signs of infection, keeping noise at an acceptable decibel) are actions we should all be taking. Once you lose your hearing, it’s not coming back, not without some very serious intervention. Be wise about it.