We wonder. When, exactly, did the demure woman in a family way become the pregnant babe in peekaboo tops and body-hugging spandex? Did she evolve gradually from the fashion DNA of an expectant, bare-bellied ’60s love child? Or did she emerge suddenly, fully formed and inevitable, after Demi Moore flaunted her gloriously naked third-trimester self on the cover of Vanity Fair?
Whether or not you shimmy your belly into today’s provocative maternity wear, you can’t help but send the same message those women did, the one broadcast since humans worshipped fertility goddesses with enormous breasts and abdomens: The pregnant body is beautiful in its lush, wondrous form—an engineering miracle, if you will, an homage to possibility and clear evidence of order, even perfection, in this world.
We grant you that pregnancy encompasses the occasional (OK, for some of you, frequent) physical discomforts and wild mood swings and gloomy certainty that you will never again fit into any of your prepregnancy jeans. But we suggest that there are also those moments that you feel beautiful simply because you are.
Pregnancy brings new meaning to the concept of beauty (just as children add entirely new meaning to the concepts of, say, unconditional love, eating out, sleeping in, stain-resistant anything and, yes, fortunately and unfortunately, sex). Beauty is the woman in her husband’s giant overalls at an outdoor cafe, absentmindedly patting her belly while doing double duty on a DoveBar and grilled cheese, savoring all the sweetness of her expanding girth, the chocolate, the breeze, the moment. Beauty is the pregnant woman patiently cooing into the ear of the tear- and dirt-streaked toddler on her hip as she convinces him to leave the playground. It is the sprite twenty-something yoga student and her almost middle-aged counterpart, both in full-body leotards, practicing their prenatal yoga asanas. It is the way a woman balances a body that, in accommodating a baby, has taken on enough water to sink a small rowboat, whose center of gravity is the center of a small universe unto itself. The beauty of pregnancy is aesthetic and spiritual as well as physical. It is in the instinctive resourcefulness of a woman’s body and soul, combining what seems to be magic with the mundane.
To all of our pregnant readers: We hope that your beauty is reflected in your full-length mirror (yes!), and in the looks from loved ones. Give a pat for us.