Among the many things I’ve been learning about my temperament and my body from being pregnant, I’ve discovered that I enjoy yoga. I always knew in theory that yoga was challenging and rewarding, but in practice the classes made me sleepy and at the end I always felt like that hour would have been better spent working up a sweat on a run. But now running doesn’t make me feel very good or accomplished, just crampy and stressed that I may have deprived my future child of oxygen or proper blood flow. So… yoga.
My gym offers a pretty good prenatal yoga class, which when I first joined was strangely taught by a man. He would say things like, “We have to keep in mind our special state when going into triangle pose,” and “I have three kids so I’ve been pregnant three times!” Despite occasionally wanting to punch him, the stretching and strengthening felt good and I started to understand some of the benefits of yoga.
After a few classes, the male instructor left and a woman took his place. At first I thought this would be a definite improvement, comments-wise. Then the yoga goddess stuff started. “You ladies are goddesses,” she’d say. “Beautiful!” is the standard remark after literally every set of clumsy poses. And my favorite–at the end of class last week–“You are all so pretty!!”
Now I’m not saying that I don’t perceive beauty from an elegant yoga pose or a glowing athlete. But that’s not what this felt like to me. Instead, it felt more like when people feel the need to say, “You are totally glowing!!” when you actually know for a fact that your face is full of acne and you have big bags under your eyes that just won’t go away even though you’ve been getting ten hours of sleep a night. I completely buy into the notion that the pregnant form is sensual and beautiful. But that doesn’t mean that pregnant ladies feel exceptionally beautiful or feminine all the time, and I’m not sure I understand why people feel the need to tell me how pretty I am just because I have a bigger belly.
I’m not looking for anyone to mention the acne, the bags, or the extra weight gain in places that definitely are not baby-filled. But why not just focus on things other than beauty or lack thereof, like we do in conversations with normal, non-preggo folk?