Maternity Clothes: Frumpy IS Fabulous, Dammit!

Awful, yet better than kitten heels.
I sat down to write my weekly maternity-clothes post yesterday, fully expecting to have it done in an hour. But immediately I came across a book so mean and stupid that I went into a tailspin -- weeping, gnashing teeth, writing acid reviews on Amazon (that mysteriously vanished, hmm) -- and ended up not finishing. The book shall remain nameless because it was recently featured on The Stir and I don't want to step on toes. Suffice it to say it was along the lines of this vile article from six years ago, about women who obsessively diet during their pregnancies.

I'm so over this idea that I have to be as fashionable pregnant as I was un-pregnant, and that any deviation from utter fabulousness means you're a pathetic loser. Sorry. In my book, a woman who can't allow her style to change along with her body and parental status is the pathetic one, and I'm sick of being told otherwise.

It's time to reclaim the term "frump."


Here's the thing: My fabulous friends, the ones I consider style icons, remain fabulous when pregnant -- regardless of what they wear. I don't know how it happens, but I suspect they make good choices -- switching from low-rise jeans, choosing longer shirts, finding shoes that allow them to continue to walk smoothly rather than hobbling. The ones who go totally dowdy were sorta that way to begin with. Never have I seen someone go from Wilhelmina to Ugly Betty in nine months.

I even see women in our own CafeMom forums complaining that they can no longer wear the halter tops or elastic tube-tops that make them feel pretty. While I do know how sad it feels when a favorite item of clothing no longer works, the way to handle that is not to insist on squeezing into that item of clothing and insisting you must look good because it always worked before. Pregnancy is a process of becoming someone more than you were. You do change. Your style can change with you. Part of your changing style means taking better care of yourself. Being told you're less of a woman because you wear comfortable shoes when your tendons are loose, your balance is off, and your feet are swollen -- that's some bullying, mean-girl crap.

This bitch -- yeah, I said it -- goes so far as to say "comfort is overrated" when asked why a pregnant woman "should never be out of heels." Spoken like a woman whose nanny handles playground fun and who orders up a fix-it cesarean because she's too posh to push. "Do you want to look frumpy?" she asks. As if that's the choice: Totter around on kitten heels into your 41st week -- looking like a fool, if you ask me -- or surrender to (Gasp! Clutch the pearls!) the dreaded frump.

I'll take frumpy, thanks. I'll gladly slip into some embarrassing overalls if they mean I can move enough to stretch my back and legs out when I need to, whistling "Come on Eileen" the whole time. I'll make it a joke, I'll find ways to make it work, and I'll dress up when I need to. And I'll never be one of those tragic Beverly Hills matrons with wrinkly knees but flawless foreheads, tottering down Rodeo Drive in low-rise jeans with bunions sticking out of their Jimmy Choos. Because this kind of insistence on remaining fab first, at any price, has only one end-game.

Other gems from this sad, sad little tome include advice to keep dyeing your hair, wear a belt as a necklace (sorry, what was that again?), and slapping self-tanner on. Self-tanner! Because we all want the fake-bake look of Tara Reid!

The worst thing is that the Twitterverse is just fawning over this crap, calling it "witty," "accessible," and "brilliantly realistic." Come the eff on. What she calls "fashionable and functional," I call impossible for anyone but Heidi Klum to pull off. With mean-spirited line drawings and lots of nasty name-calling, this is nothing more than a slam book straight from ninth grade. Sorry, but I have much more faith in myself, my personal style, and my husband's regard for me than to fall for this crap.

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