High Heels and Hot Pants If I Want To

OK, so yesterday a couple of charming people came running over here to get all hot and bothered about the fact that I wore shorts! And heels! And I’m pregnant!

How dare I?!

First of all, I’m not someone who thinks that just because I’m pregnant I should be treated like a delicate flower, and I’m not asking for sympathy; it’s just a fact: this past week has been one of the worst I’ve had in a very long time, for reasons that I’ve written about and reasons that I haven’t. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. And so my response was less even-tempered that I usually try to be…but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t mean every word.

Here’s the outfit under discussion:

Now, what I said:

I think that nothing whatsoever prevents you from continuing to express your own style while pregnant – or while being a mom. Sure, I may not be able to (or feel like) wearing these particular cutoffs a couple of months from now, but I see nothing wrong with wearing stuff that makes you feel sexy even eight months pregnant. And shorts make me feel sexy. And “of course” the uncomfortable heels “need to go”? Do you have access to some rulebook I’m not familiar with? Obviously I wear flats while walking around the city to be safe, but I’m hardly throwing my heels in the trash.

I think pregnant women and moms should wear whatever makes them feel beautiful and special, and if that’s shorts or heels, good for them. And I think anyone who dares tell a pregnant woman how she “should” and “should not” dress is asking for a major side-eye.

So I was a little heated. And I feel bad about that, both because I know when I’m being baited and I should know better by this point than to respond, and because I don’t like to snap about things so petty and, frankly, ridiculous. But this kind of thing does get under my skin – when people dictate to anyone, pregnant or no, what they should and should not be wearing; what’s “appropriate” and what’s not. Safety is one thing – of course you shouldn’t wear dangerous shoes that could cause you to fall and hurt your baby, which is why I wear flip-flops or sneakers around town and change into heels when I get wherever it is that I’m going. But to say that just because someone’s pregnant, or a mother, means that they should tone it down? Dress more “mother-like”? Bullshit.

I feel weird about my body lately. My stomach “popped,” whatever that means, about a week ago, and I feel sort of off-center and uncomfortable, which is making it pretty difficult to feel anything approximating “sexy.” And seriously: the only things I seem to feel good in are shorts (unbuttoned today), relaxed shirts, and either flip-flops or really high heels. I actually feel sort of beautiful when I wear stuff like that. And I think that pregnancy can at times go hand-in-hand with a certain amount of fear, and insecurity, and yes, hormonal earthquakes, and so anything that makes you feel beautiful is something that you should grab and hold onto tightly. I’m scared that I’ll be a terrible mother, or that I’ll be totally alone in this little apartment all day with no idea what to do, and if some red lipstick and a miniskirt gives me a burst of confidence…well, there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

I read BabyCenter obsessively nowadays, and I’ve noticed that one of the major topics of discussion among pregnant women is how to handle those people who come up to you with possibly well-meaning but certainly intrusive and unwelcome advice, like “That tight shirt really is unbecoming on someone as far along as you,” or “Are you sure you’re eight months along? You don’t look big enough; that can’t be healthy for the baby.” They actually wrote an entire article on how to handle these comments that included possible “direct,” “humorous,” and “non-confrontational” responses (read the whole thing here; it’s pretty funny).

I’m personally an advocate of being direct and letting the person know that you’re being cared for by a doctor and will be taking advice from them alone, or that you are very happy with your own style choices and don’t need their input…but no matter what, I do think it’s important to say something, to stand up for yourself.

I mean, women tearing down other women? About things like pregnancy, and motherhood, and personal expression? People who are mothers mocking pregnant women for wearing things that make them feel good? REALLY? It’s things like this that should bring us together, not inspire us to lob hatred at each other. It is such an opportunity for support, compassion, and friendship, and it’s sad to miss out on that. But when it comes down to it, your body and your style are your own, and anyone who wants to make you feel bad about anything from your weight to your home to your marriage to the shirt you’re wearing is completely unworthy of your time. And that’s unfortunate, because it’s always best to listen to others with an open mind whenever possible…but when it comes to people who want to hurt you to make themselves feel big, it’s also the truth.

Will I change for my baby? Possibly. Almost certainly. Maybe everything from the size clothing I wear to the music I listen to the things that I believe in and think are wonderful and special in this world will change. But if I change, it’ll be because I listened to myself and followed my heart in the direction of what I felt was right. Not because someone else told me that what I believed in was wrong.

So I’ll go ahead and wear my pink bikinis and hot pants with my big old tummy hanging right on out if I want to, thanks. And you can think I’m gross, or inappropriate, or “unmotherly” or whatever you like, and I suppose you can even make fun of me and shout about how disgusting and stupid I am from the rooftops if that’s what floats your boat.

But you can’t stop me.

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