Maybe it’s just practice, training my brain to recognize my own beauty.
I was seven months pregnant and somehow shopping for maternity tops again. I grabbed a likely candidate from the pile and wrestled it on.
Well, that doesn’t look cute at all. I scrunched my nose at the image in the mirror. Must be something wrong with this shirt.
The significance of that thought left me in total shock.
I had spent the last 30 years struggling with my weight, criticizing my body at every turn. Stepping into a dressing room was an invitation for self-loathing — the only variable each time was the degree.
If I was lucky, I would find an outfit that properly hid my figure such that I looked pretty OK. It was always my body that failed the test, never the clothing.
That day, I realised that pregnancy had changed something fundamental for me: I loved how I looked. I loved my bump, I loved what it signified, and I loved how people treated me.
"I loved how I looked." Image via iStock.
I was very fortunate to be experiencing a “magical unicorn pregnancy” with almost no unpleasant symptoms thus far, and everything about it made me feel great. (Don’t hate me, I got plenty sick with baby #2.)
Somehow, my pregnant brain concluded that I looked awesome, and that clothes should make me look awesome, too.
Any shirt that didn’t look cute on me just wasn’t a cute shirt. My default assumption —Must be something wrong with me — no longer applied. It was total freedom.
I gloried in the horizontal stripes and favoured tops with cute little empire ties to emphasize my shape. I sought a “visible belly outline” everywhere I went. For the first time in my existence, I loved seeing myself in the mirror.
Unfortunately, this burst of body positivity vaporized pretty much upon my daughter’s birth. I had underestimated how much baby weight would hang on, and for how long.
"I had underestimated how much baby weight would hang on..." Image via iStock.
I struggled with nursing tops that were just a little small, but was too proud to swap them out. I continued wearing my maternity jeans postpartum with my head hung low. I was terrified someone in the grocery store would ask me when I was due.