Sunday, May 18, 2008

Maternal Struggle Wears Thin

As a connoisseur of maternity clothing for over a decade and a half, (subjecting myself to the cruel whims of unknown designers since 1993) I have weathered many an ill conceived creation over the course of a nine month period sans periods. The following are my nominations for the Blackwell Worst Idea Ever pregnancy wardrobe options.

First up: the bicycle spandex pants of ’95, in homage to Lance Armstrong, because nothing says comfort to a pregnant woman like clingy gym togs that show every curve and generate sweat. That was a bleak year, spent mostly raiding my husband’s t-shirt drawer for something to cover my mid region as it expanded and my posterior. It was also the year I bought a poncho.

Second Nominee: The unfortunate au natural trend started when countless starlets would pose on sleek magazine covers wearing maternity shirts with only one or two buttons, allowing their beautiful airbrushed tan in a bottle six or more months pregnant bellies to peek out. Most women I know, hope if they are undergoing pregnancy, it’s during the winter months so they can hide and hibernate in large wooly sweaters.

Most women I know, have enough sense to recognize a half buttoned shirt is a half buttoned shirt. If a woman over 30 has a shirt half buttoned and isn’t a starlet, it’s because her toddler was busy working the buttons while she answered the phone, loaded the diaper bag and was slipping on shoes, or she just finished nursing the baby. It just doesn’t work if you are over the age legal to order a beer. And if you are under age...that isn't so good either.

Third option: Then there was the Maternity bikini, modeled by women who, if they chose, could go to a five star restaurant sans reservations wearing a bikini and get a table. Of course, these same women would not actually consume any food at a five star restaurant, bikini or no. No beautifully draped shawl was sufficient enticement for non model women to don the pregnancy bikini. It didn’t go anywhere. Even missing 10% of their grey matter owing to pregnancy, women knew better. That year, the poncho was growing a bit thin.

Fourth Alternative: Baby collar, pinafore, jumpers. Just slip them on and off you go to work was the pitch. The thing of it was, you felt like a fourth grader. Newsflash to designers. The fourth grade cute look only looks cute on fourth graders. Help! I’m maudlin and I want to throw up. The poncho now had a hole and the zipper was stuck but I still wore it.

Designers hear me, I am woman! We want pregnancy clothes that fit, that don’t look slutty, sporty or babyish. We are not knocked up spice girls. We also require clothes that do not insist we sit still to remain artfully draped and appropriately covered.

The genesis of all this, was the need to break out my old maternity clothing with the recognition that most of my past periods of confinement were during the winter. I needed things to make it through the not so cool months of May, June, July and August. Going to the local mall, I entered a chain store that caters to pregnant women. Alas, where it once had had someone behind the counter with a degree of style and some measurable sense, it had been taken over by a post MTV plays music kind of generation that sought to establish pregnancy as chic in the cutting edge Ipod/blackberry wireless world that goes clubbing on Thursdays.

Low rise pregnancy jeans and shorts? Leopard spot tanks? Yellow? Even the pregnant thin model wearing the yellow mini dress and four inch stilettos in the picture looked like she wanted an epidural for simply agreeing to be photographed. Yellow on a pear shaped form conjures up only one image:

Big bird.

The expectant model had managed to avoid that look, and instead gave the distinct impression of a perfectly ripe banana half peeled that had been grasped at the middle and squished. There were racks and racks and racks of yellow. I wasn’t buying.

Rushing home, I ransacked my husband’s drawers and pulled out a black t-shirt. It was oversized. It celebrated a now defunct hockey team. I could weather the weather as long as we didn’t have to go anywhere t-shirts weren’t acceptable attire, otherwise I’d have to break out the poncho.

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