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A Yummy Mummy strides through maternity with style, passion, savvy, a healthy sense of self, and killer cleavage. She soars above the domestic rut, craves creative revelation, and turns motherhood into an adventure–an art rather than a skill.
The Yummy Mummy Manifesto, Anna Johnson’s unique mix of advice, do-it-yourself ideas, riffs, and personal reflections about motherhood, shows how to make the most important job you’ll ever have more delicious in every detail. Blooming with comforting and entertaining guidance on everything from style and decor to nutrition and finding your own parenting approach, this book provides something for every new mother or hot mama-to-be, covering breast-feeding basics, dressing the in-between body, emotional roadblocks, quirky mile stones, and throwing a simple but chic first birthday party. Johnson liberates the pregnant belly from the laws of good taste–yes, you can rock horizontal stripes, big polka dots, and crazy, large floral prints–and shares ways to decorate the nursery without resorting to duckling yellow wallpaper and gingham dust ruffles. Most important, through it all, she reveals how to hold onto your spirit, creativity, wit, and sensuality.
Hilarious, enlightening, practical, candid–and joyously illustrated–The Yummy Mummy Manifesto does maternity with flair, heart, and utter bliss.
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The Goddess Expecting
1. Morning Sick in Manolos
Finding Your Feet and Holding Your Ground
Standing on an Upper Manhattan sidewalk in early spring, I saw a pregnant woman bounding toward me in three-inch heels. At first I was appalled, thinking immediately of her spine, the stress on her lower back and hips. But my knee-jerk shock swiftly melted into a smile. The lady was zigzagging through a traffic jam in that madly determined way that only New Yorkers know. She looked like a missile with a bump. On the very same day in the West Village, I crossed a woman on the street who was cradling her swollen belly with two splayed hands, her eyes half shut and her mouth half open. It was as if she had begun to yawn, or sigh, or moan, and simply left her mouth ajar, ready for the next wave of awesome emotion to engulf her face. She looked almost as if she were in early labor. She might have been. To the naked eye, she was uncouth, so openly vulnerable and unwieldy in a city that jealously guards its space and conceals its frailties.
If you don't have a child, it is all too easy to make snap judgments about the way a pregnant woman should be. In public. In private. In bed. At the office. Overdressed, underdressed, lethargic, overweight, or ungroomed. Fashion and society at large have applied static standards of style, diet, and deportment to the gravid woman, as if there is a tidy, correct, or polite way to be pregnant! The social neurosis about the aesthetics of pregnancy manifests most clearly in the coverage of celebrities. The movie star who carries her twins in overalls is branded "lazy," the rock star who wears a message T-shirt and a mini with her bundle is "tacky," and those who gain too much weight (and don't shed it fast enough afterward) are simply "out of control." The constant policing of the fashion choices and weight fluctuations of the famous might seem like harmless fun in the context of a gossip magazine, but the ramifications for all mothers run deeper. If we're willing to judge the heavy pregnant body of a movie star mum so damningly or to celebrate her radical (and probably unnatural and unhealthy) postpartum weight loss, then how are we looking at ourselves?
The words pregnancy style too often contradict the very personal style of each woman's pregnancy. Mainstream fashions are repeatedly grafted onto very different bodies in very different contexts. In the corporate world, it is common practice for an employee to conceal her pregnancy for up to four months (as much for office politics as for health and discretion) and then to continue her term dressing as if in deeply conservative denial. In offices we are praised for carrying small, carrying neat, and, implicitly, performing with the same vigor as nonpregnant coworkers. Never mind that we might want to slam the door shut and lie down on the floor, or wear desert boots instead of pumps that pinch a swollen foot. When I look at career gear in maternity stores, it always strikes me as a uniform of dreary concealment with a heavy emphasis on business shirts. Worn, one presumes, to assert the fact that a woman loaded up with hormones can still mean business. It's not easy to fit in with a structure of manic efficiency when you are carrying a child, since work, by its very nature, is an environment of criticism, competition, and scrutiny. To survive the gap that grows between the private journey of your body and the grind of your public duties, I suggest work clothes that feel like shelter: soft shawls, wraps, and shrugs that make you feel cozy and protected under the glare of office lights. Generous, flattering swing jackets, karate-style pants, 1960s A-line trapeze dresses, a bright trench coat in the best fabric you can afford, and boots in a soft, stretchy suede that expand with you. Competence comes with confidence, so planning a strong work wardrobe for your entire term is not a matter of whim. On really tough days, you might just need the armor of a little black dress that is not so little.
The trick with feeling solid and proud in all your changes is to see yourself as growing, not merely getting bigger. In a world that fears and loathes fat, the expanding belly and natural abundance of flesh that comes with the territory fly in the face of chic. How many women truly revel in their fecund forms for the whole nine yards and almost ten months? How many cases of postpartum depression are anxiously wed to body issues and not to hormones at all? The pressure to fit in confronts the pregnant woman at every turn. Yet this ought to be the one moment in life when you can truly be outrageously, unapologetically, perhaps shockingly yourself. I love to imagine that the gusto, sensuality, abundance, and unpredictable volatility of being pregnant alters a woman and stays with her forever.
I couldn't wear anything terribly trendy when I carried my son. Tight jeans, zip-up knee-high boots, short skirts, and anything bare or backless was off-limits, and yet it was my sexiest style experience to date. In the place of explicit clothes, I found pieces rich in sensuality. I was and will probably remain the plus-size sex kitten, and no one will make me trade these breasts for a narrow set of hips and knobby set of knees. If my body can't conform to the straight lines of pencil skirts, cinch-waist belts, and tight tailored sleeves, then my hands and feet can still face Madison Avenue. I was one of those fashion-damaged pregnant chicks with a thing for accessories. I was morning sick in Manolos. But when my body bloomed and stayed blossomed a full three dress sizes larger, I didn't freak. I migrated.
Forced into a tight corner by a body that had been Botticelli and was now speeding toward Rubens, I took to theatrics: a fabulous skirt from Rajasthan worn low on the hip with a lime green camisole, a shrunken denim jacket and many bracelets, capelets and crocheted shawls to lend height, and a total banishment of anything resembling a trouser leg. Trawling eBay for any $20 velvet dress that could be cut in half or handkerchief skirts that be could transformed with a grosgrain ribbon waistband, I became crafty about my maternity groove.
The relief that came with adapting these curious vintage pieces and finding flattering shapes that actually felt pretty was my first revelation in yummy motherhood. For every problem that pops up, or out, there is a creative solution. Despite the tempting idea that maternity style can be bought in a box with an A-line frock and neat little black leggings to help you cakewalk through it, the truth is that bodies, lives, and personal vanities are far more diverse than that. If a girl hates leggings in civilian life, why should she suddenly assume some Marcel Marceau identity at eighteen weeks? I never imagined that I could look better and revel in dressing up as an urban belly dancer/Storyville Madam/Grecian naiad when I was pregnant, but it happened. My maternity gave some of the best style ideas and jiggle-proof solutions I've ever had, and two more amusing assets besides.
I will tell anyone in the first year of mothering to hang on to her pregnancy rights (the cravings, the emotions, the attitude, and, yes, even those ten pounds) and to fixate less on going back to what she was before. Once you're a mother, it's all about more. You can't be less now; you have come through your fertility rites, and, frankly, size 6 holds little substance. It isn't easy to be expansive in a culture that is constantly urging women to contract, shrink, and diet to the point of disappearance, but that is probably the greatest challenge of Yummy Motherhood: to feel delicious every step of the way. Proudly so. Pregnancy is the milestone we carry up front. This is the most glorious moment to be all of your many selves. Never will you occupy so many variations of one body in such a short space of time. And, hopefully, never will you feel so free, in high heels, in overalls, or in nothing at all.
2. The Body Blossomed
Seven Yummy Self-image Secrets
People tell you that carrying a baby is sexy, liberating even, and it is hard to believe them. The physical inconvenience and the inflated scale are not images we associate freely with pleasure. But pregnancy is hot, as well as heavy.
For me, the first inkling of the rampant sensuality to come arrived while watching the Oscars on TV in 2004. Uma Thurman held the red carpet for ransom in a black evening dress that was almost all bustline. Her ivory bosom was of the quivering, milky caliber that could reduce the entire Italian national soccer team to prayer.
Cleavage as silencer. It was not a thought I had entertained since Lady Diana Spencer all but fell out of her black taffeta corset dress getting out of a Rolls-Royce on her first evening debut with Charles. Big, deliberately exposed boobs are such a taboo in so many contexts, especially for the career girl; yet on a pregnant woman, magnificent breasts take on a mythical resonance that transcends social mores or private inhibitions. They are not the distorted, cartoonlike, massive silicone orbs on a rail-thin body: the Hollywood norm. They are not prurient, comical, or simply decorative. Maternal breasts are vital function wed to divine form. Organic to the whole body in full bloom, they exist in proportion to a gorgeous swell that rises like a prelude at the clavicle and explodes into a full rapturous overture at the belly. I wanted them. The fleshy ankles could be dealt with.
It wasn't until I occupied a completely barrel-shaped body that I got to enjoy total freedom from scathing self-criticism for the first time in my adult life. Usually the mirror is a minefield where faults are cataloged in running order. When pregnant, I saw my looking glass as an unfolding memoir of gestation. I was way too busy gently caressing my sculptural o...
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