With Valentine’s Day coming up, targeted advertising is apparently having a field day on the Internet. I know this because of the mailing that arrived in my inbox inviting me to check out “Sexy Maternity Lingerie!”
“Sexy Maternity.” To me, that sounds kind of like jumbo shrimp, military intelligence, and amicable divorce: classic oxymorons.
Yes, I know the trope about the beauty of a pregnant woman, lush with new life. I saw the episode of Mad Men where Henry Francis falls for Betty Draper as she stands, fully pregnant, waiting outside the bathroom. The seductive, lingering touch of his hand on her belly through her pink and white lace dress alone conveys that she may be pregnant, but she’s still got it. Yes, she may be wearing a strap-on rubber belly, but she’s still January Jones. You see how this parallel is somewhat irrelevant.
More to the point, I know my own past experience with the “lushness” of pregnancy. I know the feeling, during my first pregnancy, of having the same conversation every single damn day of my third trimester with my neighbor, Mr. Friedman, in the apartment building elevator.
Mr. Friedman: Hello, young lady! Look at you – you’ll be a mommy any day now!
Me (ignoring the fact that, like Groundhog Day, we’ve had this conversation about 80 times and I’m due in six weeks): You said it, Mr. Friedman.
Mr. Friedman: It’s sure going to be hard finding a place for twins in your apartment, isn’t it?
Me: That would be true, but we’re only having one baby, so it’s going to be okay.
Mr. Friedman: Are you sure? You should have them look harder next time you go to the doctor, because there is NO WAY that there’s only one baby in that big tummy!
Good times. You’ll note that the root of the problem was not Mr. Friedman confusing me with Gisele Bundchen, or him wondering why I was in the elevator when I was doubtlessly late for my photo shoot at Playboy, or him asking me how I coped with my sudden unparalleled hotness.
This time along (pu pu pu!), I have yet to pop. I’m making an effort to exercise – you know, when work and life don’t get in the way. And I am proud to report that, as of now, no one has mistaken me for a dirigible or a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon.
But “sexy” seems like too high a bar to reach. Don’t get me wrong — I’d love to get there. But let’s be honest, people – I’m a grown woman wearing pants with an elastic waist and an expandable kangaroo pouch. Does that say “come hither” to you? I only have the vaguest recollection of the applied concept of a “belt.” But look, I tell myself, it’s not all bleak. The bigger breasts, for example, have garnered no complaints.
So, I took a twirl through the world of maternity “babydoll” (get it?) lingerie, supportive gadgets that would make a regular push-up bra die a miserable death from inadequacy, and lace-up sides “to accommodate your growing belly.”
It was all very pretty…but what could it do about sexiness? I pondered this as I went to the bathroom for the fifth time in an hour (see? Sexy!). I decided to consult an outside source – my husband. I sent him the link, asking for his thoughts: “Do you think there’s something weird/non-sexy about all this?”
“I think it is “cute sexy”—the idea is very cute,” he responded. “Go for the red one.”
No, I reiterated, I’m not kidding. “I guess I’m just trying to gauge if pregnancy is just inherently unsexy and this is kind of like tying a sweater around your ass — not sure who you think you’re fooling, that sweater definitely magnifies that you don’t want attention drawn to your ass! You know?”
I could almost hear him sighing as he typed back — though let’s give the man credit , please. His bride-as-of-October has partially transformed into a large-breasted [not bad], hormonal [bad] life partner. He’s handling it remarkably well.
“Pregnancy is not unsexy — that is just your feeling about yourself,” my ever-sane husband responded. “You are sexy. So the question is whether this lingerie stuff amplifies your negative feeling or helps make you feel more positive.”
Who wouldn’t love this guy? Honestly. And, as usual, he happens to be right. So I got the red one. We’ll see.