Yesterday I wore a really cute dress to work. I mean, I was adorable. I wish I had a picture to show how cute I was. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.) The dress was a kind of wild sixties-style print, in bright yellow, black, grey and white, with a deep scoop neck (under which I wore a black turtleneck), and a gathered waist just below the bustline, sort of Empire style or, now that I think about it, Jane Austen-like. Just picture those dresses knee-length, in wilder prints, with different sleeves, on me. Okay, I also wore black tights and darling (if rather Minnie Mouse-like) yellow,white, and black patent leather shoes.
I know I looked nice (or at least my outfit was nice), because lots of people complimented me. In fact, in the Safeway parking lot a lady who I didn't know came by and said to me, "You look just darling!"
Obviously I was flattered. But then I also wondered—I had been talking on my cell phone about someone who was pregnant, and did she hear me and think it was I who was pregnant? Because this was also a dress I could lend to my friend to wear as her pregnancy developed. And although the dress flows very nicely on me, every once in a while it clings briefly to the bulge above my waist-line that I have begun to call my "cinnamon roll."
That is when I am very thankful that there are no paparazzi following me with cameras. Because if there were, I am certain that we would soon see a blurb in Us magazine (or In Touch or Life & Style or Star or O.K.), asking if this was a "baby bulge." No matter how much I run, and all the Pilates I do (well, two hard classes a week), I will never, ever have a completely flat stomach. I have to laugh when the most minute swell of the belly prompts pregnancy speculation. (I guess if they predict it often enough, eventually it will be true—like Angelina Jolie or Nicole Kidman. But not for me!)
What's more, a full stomach (after an unusually hearty meal) makes that obnoxious roll even more apparent, as it flops alarmingly above the waistband of my pants or skirt (this is why I like dresses so much). Sometimes I have been known to pull my pants up high over the roll, old man-style, in attempts to tame it (this works with stretchy yoga and running pants, not so much with jeans). Stretchy undergarments like Spanx sometimes help but sometimes just turn the soft floppy skin into a hard compressed ridge.
Well, now I've completely depressed myself and pretty much forgot where I was going with this. I guess I have two points. One is, unless you're a Hollywood star or 18 years old or truly genetically blessed, your body is going to be flawed no matter how much you work on taking care of it. (That's the depressing view.) The more optimistic view of this is that even without a perfect Hollywood body, you can be strong and fit and healthy and low in body-fat (16%, my scale says), and look really good most of the time as long as you dress in a flattering style. (See What Not to Wear.) The second point (or third, depending on how you look at it) is, unless you are a Hollywood star, most people aren't going to be looking for your belly flab. They're going to be thinking how cute you are in your stylish dress, or how strong you are running those 10K's and powering through hundreds of Pilates roll-ups and leg raises.
(That is, unless you keep eating those cinnamon rolls and cookies at work and bulge right out of your cute clothes.)
The one exception to "I'm not a celebrity" is this. That's Nicole Kidman, dressed as me, running some time after announcing she was pregnant (this was months ago). Good try, Nicole, the outfit is perfect; you just need to work a little harder on the fleshy (I mean muscular) legs. The hint of belly is a good start; maybe by the time you're six months along you can really replicate my jiggly midsection!