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Starting to Show: Body Image in Pregnancy

Imperceptible from the front, but getting hard to hide from the side. It's still at that awkward phase though where I just look like I'm mega bloated, it doesn't look like a beautiful, round pregnant belly yet.

I hadn't really thought about this stage before. This might not seem like a big deal, but for someone who's spent the best part of two decades (yes, since I was 10) trying to figure out how to get flat abs (I never succeeded), this is not an easy pill to swallow. I know, #firstworldproblemsright? But we're bombarded with this stuff constantly, and made to feel like anything less than a washboard stomach isn't normal. (Fun fact: apparently, statistically it's more common to be a millionaire than to have a six pack).

I've spent the past month sucking it in, wearing high-wasted pants and baggy tops to hide it. But why? Ok, I didn't want people to know I was pregnant, but it wasn't that big yet. I was ashamed of not having a coveted flat tummy, that people would think I wasn't fit, that I couldn't be a good trainer, that I was getting fat, that I was "letting myself go". It was about being ashamed of the belly, not hiding the pregnancy.

Soooo much pressure, and so much importance and meaning attached to one body part. I dedicated a lot of energy and mental space to that, and I bet no-one else even noticed a damn thing.

Most women I know have an issue with their bellies. They're not happy with it, none of them. (Incidentally, none of their romantic partners or friends have ever quibbled about it), but they spend much of their time sucking their bellies in, often at the detriment to the proper function of their "core" (which includes the diaphragm and the pelvic floor). I've done that too, I've never been happy with it, never been able to get rid of the last stubborn little bit of fat (I was sub 20% body fat FFS).

And now it's going to GROW beyond any food baby I have ever experienced before. I know a pregnant belly means something else, but when we have so much self-worth riding on the flatness of our abdomen, it's a little unnerving to say the least. And confusing. It's wrapped up in so many other feelings about that body part.

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©2019 BY JENNIFER CURTIS

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