I am a 26-year old African-American female who is half in love with her shape and half disgusted by it. Let me explain first why I am posting in a site for women with children and I have never been pregnant.
My body issues began when I turned 15. It was then that I developed perky breasts and curvy bottom half. Guys gave me attention, girls told me I was beautiful, it was cool. At that time, I was a staunch Christian, and for me, that meant that somewhere deep inside I felt my newly sexy body was innately shameful. So here I am with this new womanly body, that I am kind of in love with, but I’m also absolutely scared of the kind of attention that brings. Then I started modeling. I was in love with the attention, and the way photographs and photoshop and ad campaigns made me look better than I really did. I think I began to see myself as the woman in the commercials and airbrushed photos, instead of the girl with cellulite and (according to model’s standards) slightly saggy breasts.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with pregnancy. I am TERRIFIED and in awe of what birthing a child can do to a woman’s body. My mother can be very negative at times, and I can always remember her saying how pretty she was before she had kids. She warns that I will definitely gain weight and get stretch marks. She recently had a tummy tuck and breast lift. I have no idea why I have this obsession, but anyone who knows me will know this. This is why I know of this site. I’ve been categorically researching pregnancy since I was about 17. I’m now 26. My loving and supportive boyfriend can tell from the sound of my voice if I’ve been googling “fit pregnancy” or “how to avoid stretchmarks during pregnancy” or Facebooking friends who have had children and are sporting bikinis like three months later.
Why this irrational fear? I could get them, as it’s mainly a genetic trait (or so my scientific research says) but if I exercise and eat properly during my future pregnancy there is a chance I wouldn’t get them at all. I know in my mind that pregnancy doesn’t always mean your body will never be the same — but I have such high standards for myself that I don’t know what I will do if come out on the other side changed in a way that my mind sees as “ugly.”
My younger half-sister had a son a few years ago and her stomach was absolutely changed. She gained 70 pounds during her pregnancy (admittedly due to overeating and an unhealthy diet) and got bright red, violent (in my mind) stretch marks over her entire stomach. I will never forget the first time I saw them. I didn’t want to make a reaction and hurt my sister’s feelings, but the bright red marks gave me a sinking feeling to my stomach. “I would literally go insane if my stomach looked liked that”, I thought. Is this my fate? This is an odd coincidence because along with my fear/obsession with pregnancy comes dreadful fear of getting stretch marks.
A lot of this comes from my body type, which I know I will have forever, even if I tone up or slim down a little. I am a curvy, curvy chick. Period. Everybody tells me how lucky I am to have a big butt and hips as a Black woman, and that I should be proud to have the ideal Black woman’s frame — but I don’t feel that way. I don’t always like walking down the street and hearing men say, “Now that’s a big ass,” or being at the pool where a group of tourists gather around and laugh and point as if I cannot see them, or feeling like a sideshow attraction every time I wear tight pants — and almost ALL pants are tight pants on me. I like the attention sometimes, as you will see in one attached photograph (with the black dress.) It can be a beautiful thing to be curvy, but I have cellulite and unstoppable jiggling when I walk. I do work out and eat healthier than I have in probably my entire life ( currently weigh 125, my heaviest was 135), but I secretly envy white, slim supermodels. I admire the long, lean legs of Heidi Klum or the cute, discreet butt of a Victoria Secret model, or my roommate, or anyone else but me.
Sometimes when I’m in my room alone I put on clothes and stuff towels inside my shirt to look pregnant. It makes me feel good. I try different amounts of clothing to emulate the different months. I tell myself, “You better look like this when you are pregnant.” Does being curvy mean I will definitely gain a lot of weight during a pregnancy? If I look at the women in my family it does. Where does one draw the line between reality, fantasy, genetic determination, free will and vanity?
I want a child. I work with children everyday. I’m sorta stable. All that good stuff. But I’m scared of what I will do to myself emotionally if I don’t stay under X amount of weight or X inches or bounce back in X weeks.
These are completely candid thoughts. I have never shared much of this information with anyone, but I read this site every week and for some reason this seemed like the perfect place for my distorted, irrational, dark thoughts. If I offended anyone, I apologize. Just my honest thoughts.
*The picture in the light blue bikini is from 2004.
*The picture in the white bikini is from 2005.
*The picture in the black dress is from 2010.
*The pictures on the beach in the blue bikini are from 2011.