Fair Vanity


One of my last nights in Brazil, Francisco asked if my “tommie” had grown at all in the past eight days.

“Nope, not really,” I told him, to his disappointment. He’d imagined that my normal, pre-pregnancy paunch had begun to swell–beyond his view–into a tiny, ripening melon.


My brother asked me the same thing today. “It hasn’t gotten big yet?” he asked. “Um, are you sure you’re pregnant?” Leave it to your younger brother to ask about whether you used the pregnancy test dip stick correctly.


So with all this talk about what celebrity mags call “the bump”, I guess I’m ready to start noticing some physical changes that go beyond low-grade persistent nausea and hands and feet that go numb when I’m sleeping.

Randomly, while thinking about this yesterday, I thought about Demi Moore (pre-Ashton Kutcher–was he even born yet?).

Back in 1991, Moore–perhaps at the top of her acting career–appeared nude on the cover of the magazine Vanity Fair.  In the no-frills profile shot, Moore was wonderfully round with seven months of pregnancy, one hand supporting her generous belly, the other covering her breasts. The photo was gorgeous–a woman in full “unbelievable flower,” as the poet Sandra McPherson writes (not about Moore) in her poem, “Pregnancy.”

Interestingly (though not surprisingly in our paradoxically prudish and prurient society), though viewers couldn’t see Moore’s breasts or vagina, the cover caused a major stir. Some retailers pulled Vanity Fair from their shelves for that month; others decided to sell the magazine in a brown paper sleeve, as if it were a cheapo titty mag at a convenience store.  Vanity Fair received bags of mail lamenting its moral decline and bad taste.

That was 1991.

Today, almost two decades later, we’ve become all but immune to constant displays of flesh, both titillating and curious yet repulsive. We have TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” that show obese people in their underwear in humiliating situations. Mainstream news is often as concerned about whether the weight gain of  a female celebrity might mean a pregnancy (preferably “illicit”) as it is with the economy or war.

It’s frightening to think that the photo of Moore’s pregnant stomach was so disturbing. We all came from a similar place, no?

I’d like to think we’ve evolved since then, but there’s too much evidence to the contrary. As my friend Laura recently reported, Facebook blocked photos of breastfeeding women posted on its site by mothers.

I don’t want to get all uppity or anything, but I’m just going to say this. My previous sweatpants post notwithstanding, as this belly gets bigger, I’m going to take every chance I can to flaunt it.

Deal with it.


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