Fat and unfashionably pregnant

13 June 2016 - 02:00 By Leigh-Anne Hunter

The pressure on women to snap back into shape right after pregnancy - and to look faaahbulous during it - is a modern phenomenon we have celebrities to thank for writes Leigh-Anne Hunter

Most of us aren’t royals with an army of slaves, but the expectation these days is that even if you look a little dishevelled after 12 hours in labour, you should at least glow.
Most of us aren’t royals with an army of slaves, but the expectation these days is that even if you look a little dishevelled after 12 hours in labour, you should at least glow.
Image: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Dear Duchess Kate. Thanks a lot. You’ve ruined things for all of us.

Okay, so most of us aren’t royals with an army of slaves, but the expectation these days is that even if you look a little dishevelled after 12 hours in labour, you should at least glow, goddammit. Look grateful for being a vessel for life.

It’s not just us commoners who you’ve set up for failure, dear Kate. Next time a royal appears in Tatler with messy hair after popping a sprog, will she be run out of the palace?

The pressure starts in pregnancy. Your attire should be just so. In mythological depictions, you never see Mother Nature rocking up in tracksuit pants. Too floaty and you look like a circus tent, too tight and you’re accused of resembling an exploding sausage.

“Heidi Klum looked fabulous pregnant,” said a friend. Yes. But that’s because she’s Heidi Klum. She’s a human gazelle. 

I, on the other hand, am Greek. The Law of Proportions says that the square root of shortness plus fatness is equal to a fashion cataclysm. 

Add Crocs to that equation when you’re preggers (because imagine Atlas carrying the world in stilettos) and you’re waddling dangerously close to being confused with Great Uncle Georgios at the next family union.

People never tired of commenting on my growing rotundness. Swallow a tractor? Having twins? Hehehe. “Hello,” I’d think. “I’m pregnant. Not Twiggy.”

I thought of forming my own political party and calling it “Gatvol”. It’ll be run by pregnant women who will sit on you if you make a thoughtless remark. They’d have their work cut out for them. Pregnant women attract tactlessness like rental cars to potholes.

I wondered if there was something in the water here in Joburg. Because while I waddled up several dress sizes, the other girls in my preggie exercise class looked like they’d had a bit of indigestion after lunching on vine leaves at Tashas. I hear one gave birth to a cantaloupe.

Our instructor was a gerbil in spandex. I had the feeling she was popping multicoloured orbs, and they weren’t M&Ms.

After class she cornered us with pamphlets for her “mama rejuvenation” programme. “Get that pre-baby bod back! Beat that jelly belly!”

“So sad,” she said, “ when you hear a woman being asked: ‘How far along are you?’ And she gave birth two months before.” Her eyes were noticeably un-moist.

In an antenatal class, a group of us sat quietly breathing into our vaginas. “I’m giving birth in a Bali tidal pool under a full moon,” said one woman. “It’s going to be transcendental.” “That sshounds fuper,” said my husband, tucking into a tower of petit fours. “Sympathy cravings,” he muttered. I got the carb-free lunch. “I feel so fat,” said one pregnant woman, nibbling a rocket leaf.

Someone gave me a pair of post-partum Spanx panties — used to “vacuum-pack that tummy”. They are also an additional guarantee that parenting is a natural contraceptive.

I wonder if Kate has a pair in her closet.