First and foremost, though I am a day late, check out poetry (yester)daily featuring my home-girl Simone. If this poem doesn't do it for you, well, you're dumb. Sorry, but it's the truth.
I had a strange experience yesterday while darting around Chicago, doing various errands, mostly to replace items from the lost/stolen wallet. While I was looking at new wallets, a woman with two teenage sons asked me where a Target is. We started conversing and her son said something about being happy that I was pregnant. I about fell over. "I'm not pregnant!" I said, probably embarassing him more than me at the moment, as he literally ran away and hid among some nearby clothing racks. "I had a baby about a year ago," I explained to the mother, calmly-- I could see the look of horror on her face and wanted to assure her that it was OK. She apologized about ten more times and I said don't worry about it. But, of course, I did. Then on to the DMV, a nightmare on wheels. I had to wait in line to get a number to wait in line to talk to someone to tell me to get in line to pay to get in line to get my license. Unreal. But the lady I actually talked to was really nice and called me "cute". I said thanks- It was better than being mistaken for being pregnant, that's for sure. But we had to "revise" the weight on my license from 110 lbs to 125 lbs because of my pregnancy weight gain. Another blow to the ego. Off to campus I went, feeling cute, pudgy, and pregnant. I saw a professor in the hall who I've been meaning to get in touch with- I'm working on an exam list with her. I said hello and she looked at me like I was a freshman asking for directions. She said, "Remind me of your name. . ." I said "It's me, Mackenzie- we're working on an exam list together. . ." I guess it had been a while since she's actually seen me in person- so much of this stuff happens over email. She remembered me then, but felt it necessary to explain why she didn't recognize me. . ."Oh, you've gained some weight! It's good weight, I mean, but you look so different!" Hmm, there it is. The New Sincerity has claimed another victim.
Apparently I'm a fatass, and people, even complete strangers, aren't afraid to tell me about it. It's been more difficult than I imagined gaining weight with the pregnancy and not being able to lose all of it quickly. A big part of my pre-pregnancy identity had to do with my thinness, my obsession with thinness, hence my bout with an eating disorder in college and some of early grad school. (Most people assure me that I was too thin before, and have gained "good weight," like the professor said, but that's a hard perspective to buy into.) I'm much better now, but it never totally goes away. How does this difference in weight affect me- my image- my images- my writing- my thinking-my parenting? Not only am I having to deal with a new identity as a parent, but also as a physically different person. Along with the 3 inch scar on my abdomen from the c-section, there are 10 pounds that I will just never lose, and it's changed me.
It's a selfish and ridiculous worry, I know. As my husband constantly reminds me, most women would kill to weight 125 lbs shortly after having a baby, being in school, etc. People are starving all over the world and I'm worried cause I have some extra love handles that I can't get rid of. It's ridiculous. But it's my reality, even though I try to keep it supressed inside as much as possible, days like yesterday, when everybody felt the need to comment on my physicality, it bubbles to the surface and makes me nauseousfor the rest of the day.