Pregnant women are beautiful. In talking to my wife about things she wished she might have known when she was pregnant, she mentioned that during her pregnancy she could not believe (despite my continually, and sincerely, telling her) that she was beautiful—she just felt fat and unattractive. So, if you’re pregnant, trust that you are beautiful and that this is a sacred and beautiful passage in life. Re-think the notion of beauty as defined by a collapsing culture (i.e. that being thin is the quintessential paradigm of beauty), and consider Oscar Wilde’s statement that if you haven’t seen the beauty in something you haven’t really even seen that thing.
Whether pregnant or not, a challenging but healing exercise is to stand naked and unencumbered before a mirror and soften your judging gaze to instead see to the sacred essence of yourself. This is a fundamental, and often initially difficult, step toward happiness. Try to see beyond evaluation and comparisons altogether and look at yourself as if you were an artist looking at a model; or better yet as if you were a landscape being seen by a naturalist. Be your own muse; observe the hand of nature and the splendor of what just simply is. Stop trying to re-make yourself into someone else’s notion of beauty, and discover the happiness of radically embracing yourself as you are, and the world as it is.
Back to pregnancy, and particularly if you are a woman, give honest compliments to the pregnant women that you encounter. This was one of my wife’s key ideas about something that would help pregnant women—that these women need to hear that they are beautiful from other women. I find this interesting and pass it along in the hopes that it might help clarify a distortion of feeling unattractive in even one mom-to-be.
Don’t be patronizing or false, but if you do happen to see the beauty in someone, perhaps struggling in their last trimester and feeling depleted, bloated, sleep-deprived and perhaps a little scared about the future, go ahead and give that authentic compliment. Coming from a woman, and coming with sincerity, it may make it past the potentially negating voices in that mom’s head and possibly make a difference, however subtle, in that mom’s day and in the energetic field in which her baby floats. Many women are overly competitive, or too insecure to give compliments. We can all raise and reinforce positive self-esteem by choosing to be the givers of love and positivity rather than the seekers of attention and validation.
A final note on women who may be pregnant (and maybe for our zeitgeist as well, which is pregnant with possibility for a new time but not sleeping very well): pregnancy is a lightning rod for projection—positive as well as negative. It reminds me of my first time passing into the locked ward of a mental hospital where a former military officer who’d had his manners knocked out along with some of his pre-frontal lobe in a motorcycle accident walked up to my colleague and said, rather kindly, “you look exactly like my mother.” My associate smiled maternally and said, “Oh, that’s nice,” to which the man said drily, “I hated my mother.”
Thus, if someone glares at you in the market or on the bus, or doesn’t give up their seat but rather rushes to take yours, consider the possibility that they carry wounds from the mother. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time, and a protective stance is called for. Treat this negativity with respect and love, yes love; but the love of compassionate seeing, an I-Thou relating, seeing to the sacred spirit under the mask of anguish and bewilderment… and not engaging in the compulsion to fix things (you are building a baby, conserve your resources). Instead, after seeing with compassion, engage this negativity as if it were a ghost (spirit is geist in German, like zeitgeist/time spirit) and transmit the unspoken message, “I love you, go away.” And for those souls who amble here, looking to be better parents but still limping as a result of being wounded-by-mother (or by father or culture), perhaps our introverted little sangha at the corner of the web can be a place to bring your hurt and find some solace amongst the mother-spirits we honor and invite to come and help out, living as well as timelessly ancient.
So, let’s dedicate today to appreciating the splendor of pregnant women, and to freely validating, honoring and telling them our honest appreciation of their beauty—inner as well as outer.