I recently spoke with a friend who is pregnant with her second child, and she shared with me some of her experiences of having a baby and being a mom. One comparison she used stood out to me: giving birth to a child is like running a marathon. It’s hard, and you put a lot of stress on your body in the process, but the end result is very rewarding. But the language we use about pregnancy rarely takes that tone.
When I’ve talked about pregnancy with other people, the conversation tends to go in two directions: either we’ll focus on the flowery romance of having a new sweet baby to love and cuddle, or we’ll talk about the misery of hormone changes, uncomfortable sleep, and the horrible pain of delivery. Neither one of these trends lends itself to addressing pregnancy and delivery as a challenge, an accomplishment, of women. Even in medical language, “morning sickness” and “baby blues” are rather sweet-sounding phrases to describe very challenging side effects of pregnancy. In these conversational tropes, women are denied the right to celebrate in their physical accomplishments– the wonderful things their bodies can do and have done.
I see the negative impact this perspective has also had on non-pregnant women, in the forms of body image struggles. What would it look like if we celebrated women for how their bodies work instead of how their bodies look? What if, instead of complaining how are stomachs are too round and soft, we celebrated how we’re able to digest food–and even grow a little human being inside of there? What if, instead of being hard on ourselves for the size and shape of our thighs, we were filled with awe in our ability to run and walk and work and play? What if, instead of noticing how our faces deviates from our culture’s standard of beauty, we gloried in our ability to see and taste and smell and hear?
I want to stop calling bad what God made good, and in the process, give Him the glory.