Countdown to Baby T. Rex: Loving My Fat Mama Self and Itchy All Over (33 Weeks)

As soon as I became visibly pregnant, people started paying attention to my body differently.

I didn’t show much at first, because I carry my weight in the front and I typically have a nice, rounded tummy. Also, I unintentionally lost fifteen pounds in the first trimester due to the restricted-carb gestational diabetes diet, so I didn’t gain any significant pregnancy weight until almost the third trimester. When people in my second trimester looked for and complimented my “bump,” they were mostly complimenting the natural tummy shape that I always have, albeit a little bit hardened up and perkier. The difference was, all of a sudden, my belly was culturally acceptable and beautiful and a symbol of fertility and womanhood.

About to head out to a party at 27 weeks, bump only slightly showing.

About to head out to a party at almost seven months, bump only slightly showing.

A lot of people couldn’t tell I was pregnant by looking at me up until a month ago. Even now that I’m clearly showing and my belly looks pregnant even to most strangers, folks tell me I don’t look eight months, that I look small for how far along I am. I don’t remember the last time someone told me I looked small. “Thank you?” is my typical reply. “Well, fuck the patriarchy for making women’s bodies fair game for cultural critique and for deciding what I should look like at all times and for giving you permission to openly express your feelings about my body,” is what I want to say.

I much prefer the folks who just say, “You look great!” and very much prefer the folks who don’t stare at or comment on my body at all. I’m sure I’ve said similar things to other pregnant women before, though. I’m going to remember, in the future, to keep my opinions about pregnant people’s bodies to myself.

On the plus side (no pun intended), I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt so safe showing my stomach, unafraid that people are going to give me dirty looks for wearing a fitted tank top to run errands. It’s affirming in a way that’s very uncomfortable because being pregnant is the most cishet-acceptable way to be a woman in the patriarchy and I’m reaping the rewards of that in a way that feels yucky. It’s freeing and enraging.

I’m super glad, though, that I came into this pregnancy loving my pre-pregnancy body. It’s going to help me a lot in embracing my yet-unknown post-pregnancy body. My body is doing its own thing right now, to care for Baby T. Rex, and I often feel like I’m not in control of it at all. I’m going to come out on the other side changed, physically and in many other ways. I can’t imagine how much much harder it would be if I still hated the way I look, if I still resented my body and cursed every stretch mark.

This constant focus on my body has led me to think about body image issues as a future parent and how to break or at least disrupt the cycle of shitty self-esteem. But when do we start internalizing body shame?

Like many little kids, I started out experiencing my body as a source of fun and sensory pleasure and I never felt self-conscious. It was a challenge to keep me in clothes as a toddler, especially in the warm summer months. I loved running around nude-y rude-y, feeling free in my skin. When I was just a little bit older, I liked to lay naked in front of the living room fireplace after my bath. I’d spread out my bath towel, lie down on my stomach, and watch TV or read a book, letting the slow, constant heat lap at the exposed skin on my bare back.

kaelyn hose

Even in elementary school, I wasn’t very concerned about my appearance. I wasn’t particularly feminine and I didn’t like wearing dresses. I loved putting on my mom’s blush with the big fluffy brush she kept in the bathroom drawer, but I wasn’t otherwise into makeup or hair or clothes.

Somewhere in the two years between fifth and seventh grade, I changed. A lot. I ran face-first into puberty at age twelve. I started reading teen magazines and wearing more make-up and more skirts and fitted tops and “doing” my hair. By the time I was thirteen, I was very aware of my appearance, particularly my size because I was, by my own estimation, fat. My thighs were fat and my arms were fat and most of all my stomach was fat. Fat fat fat. FAT.

My weight fluctuated a lot in my teen years. I usually hovered somewhere around a size 12. My closest friends were around a size six. We all hated our bodies. I would work myself into tears shopping for jeans or a bathing suit. I would be thrilled when I could squeeze into a smaller size skirt or top. I flirted with Slim Fast and skipping meals when I felt like I was gaining weight. I hated looking at myself naked. I’d pick out all the things that were wrong with me — my arm flab, the line where my bra dug into my back fat, the place where my thighs rubbed together, my belly that was never flat enough.

In addition to all that body self-loathing, I was the only Korean girl in my high school. I could never be as pretty as my white best friends or the girls in the dELiA*s and Alloy catalogs I shopped from. Even if I managed to lose weight, no one would be attracted to me. I was forever doomed to be the fat and funny best friend, the ugly Korean sidekick to my hot besties.

16-year-old me, totally gorgeous and totally wishing I was thinner and whiter.

16-year-old me, totally gorgeous and totally wishing I was thinner and whiter.

It was a long road back to loving my body, to reveling in the feeling of the sun on my back and arms, to embracing the pleasure of spreading out naked on my bed after a hot shower, to taking solace in stripping off my clothes after a long day and just being in my skin. But I did get here.

I still have broad shoulders. I still have a soft, round belly; thighs that kiss in the middle; and sturdy, thick arms. I’m bigger than I was when I was a teen. I’m thicker and rounder and I have a double chin and I have more stretch marks. My body aches more and has more challenges with every passing year, but I’m grateful for all it provides me and I’m sorry for all the years I spent hating it and treating it like the enemy. When my body was strongest and in its very prime, I was too busy punishing it and loathing it to realize. Yet, my body is still strong. Pregnancy has proved to me how strong my body is.

Rocking my GabiFresh suit at A-Camp 5.0 (photo by Laura M)

Rocking my GabiFresh suit at A-Camp 5.0 (photo by Laura M)

I think now about my future kid, about Remi, and how important it is to spread body-positive messages in our home. They’re going to be exposed to all that negative stuff everywhere else — on TV, on the school bus, from well-meaning friends and family.

I came to a place of loving my body, but the rest of the world didn’t necessarily follow. I recently had a man yell, “You’re fat!” at me from a moving vehicle, to which I laughed and thought, “Yup, I am!” I’m proud to be fat and happy with how I look 99% of the time, but society as a whole doesn’t think I should be. I have to seek out fat-affirming and body-positive spaces and friends. When I choose to wear a body-con dress, I also have to put on my fat femme emotional armor before I leave the house.

I know Waffle still struggles with negative body image. I have shitty days, too. That’s just how it is, no matter how much I work on loving myself. However, I don’t want to expose Remi to it. As much as possible, I don’t want Remi to hear Waffle or me talking about how disgusting we are or how we need to lose weight or diet or any of that negative self-talk. I don’t want to normalize that kind of thinking in our home.

A recent study found that more than half of girls and one-third of boys as young as six-to-eight-years old think they should be thinner and that one in four kids engage in dieting behavior by the age of seven. Yikes.

I want Remi to see Waffle and me being confident, attractive, smart people who are also people of size. I want to be able to talk about body positivity at home, about the things they’ll see on TV and learn from peers. I want to try to provide the emotional armor they’ll need to combat sizeism, particularly when they hit those difficult years between puberty and adulthood. I doubt I’ll be able to keep Remi from having a complicated relationship with their body, but I do think body positivity starts at home, with us.

I’m going to start with myself. I’m going to keep on loving my body even when it feels foreign and strange to me, as it does this thing called baby-gestating. When it’s frustrating, I’m going to remember that I can’t control it. I can hate the pregnancy symptoms (Hello, carpal tunnel and itchy skin!), but I can’t blame my body for doing what it needs to do. I’m going to do my best to appreciate how strong my body is right now and to embrace what my body will be after I bring Remi into the world.


8 Random Baby-Making Feelings I’m Currently Over-Processing

1. Feathering the Nest

I’ve been doing a lot of internet research on whether “nesting” is a provable instinctual and/or biological phenomenon. The available data is inconclusive. Lots of folks have told me that I will nest now that I’m in the third trimester. There is even a myth that nesting behavior is a precursor to labor. All of that seems to be scientifically unfounded.

via giphy

via giphy

It’s true that many pregnant women start getting into tidying their homes and getting the nursery situated as they near the end of pregnancy, but it’s unclear whether that is instinctual or just, like, practical. It’s also true that the brain chemistry of pregnant women changes to prepare for the nurturing role. However, this is also true of non-gestational dads. (I couldn’t find any studies that weren’t about heteronormative families.) I tend to personally feel like there aren’t hard and fast rules about human behavior, particularly when those behaviors are tied to gender. In our house, if nesting is indeed an instinctual thing, both Waffle and I are doing it.

Traditional nesting activities like prepping the baby room and washing and folding baby clothes and cleaning out closets are definitely stuff Waffle has been more motivated to do. Household management crap like getting house repairs done, getting finances in order, making lists of things we need to purchase and when is more what I’ve been focusing on. Only one of us is pregnant, so…

Either way, we have been getting as prepared as possible over the past few weeks. We have more to do around the house, but if Baby T. Rex came today, it’d be OK. We have the bare minimum in place. I mean, you really just need a spot for the baby to sleep, some diapers, and boob food. The rest you can figure out in time.


2. Constant Craaaaaaaavings

People keep asking what my cravings are and I’m not having too many. Or, rather, because of being on a gestational diabetes diet since February, I don’t get to indulge in cravings very often, so I don’t think about them too much. Actually, I’m kinda resentful of pregnant people who get to indulge in cravings on a whim. I BET THAT’S NICE.

The other day Waffle was eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger that smelled awesome/disgusting and I totally took a small bite. It was awesome/disgusting. That’s about the extent of my ability to indulge without throwing my glucose numbers off.

That said, there are some gestational-diabetes-approved snacks that keep finding their way to my mouth when I’m wanting a not-planned snack. In no particular order, my “indulgent” foods have been:

  • String Cheese
  • Dill Pickles
  • String Cheese
  • Dill Pickles
  • String Cheese
  • Dill Pickles
  • Dill Pickles
  • Dill Pickles

FullSizeRender
That’s it. Living on the edge! (Did you know you can buy dill pickles in a club pack?)


3. Got Schooled

We had our birth class two weekends ago at Beautiful Birth Choices. It was an all-day Saturday class because Waffle works nights and it was easier for us to get it done in one long day. We liked the class and the teacher and place enough that we’re planning to hire a doula through them.

As I expected, we were the only queer couple and I was the only non-white person. The instructor, however, was inclusive in the language she used during the class. We tend to let people assume we’re lesbians in such situations, which I’m sure everyone did. It was fine, though, and everyone was cool with us being there.

Some of the info was very basic, but Waffle pointed out that probably the rest of the partners and husbands in the room had never experienced a menstrual cramp and had no exposure to anatomy diagrams of the uterus and boobs and whatnot since their high school health class. So it was probably good foundational information for them.

Stupid Baby T. Rex squishing all my organs... (via highlands.edu)

Stupid Baby T. Rex squishing all my organs… (via highlands.edu)

I learned that the Lamaze techniques you see people in movies doing are no longer typically taught. The “hee hee ho ho” breathing stuff is apparently out of vogue. I was kind of glad because that sounded awkward to practice in front of other people.

We did learn some labor positions and techniques to deal with contraction pain, including ways for our partners to provide physical and emotional support. We went around and tried out the various positions. We did a simulation of negative pain, basically holding ice (a frozen wet sponge) on the underside of our arms for the duration of a contraction while working with our partners, using various techniques to manage the pain like massage, music, scented oils, etc. We talked in more depth about our birth plan.

Activity cards we used at the birth class to discuss our birth plan.

Activity cards we used at the birth class to discuss our birth plan.

Overall, it was mainly a review for us of info we’d read in books or online, but it was a good experience to do the class together and have set time to practice labor techniques and talk about our birth plan. If you can swing the cost of a birth class, I’d recommend it.


4. Things I’ve Googled in the Past Week:

  • best lotion pregnancy itch
  • packing list hospital go bag
  • can my cat tell I’m pregnant?
  • gestational diabetes breastfeeding
  • questions to ask a birth doula
  • lgbtq doula rochester ny
  • feliway cat baby stress
  • refusing episiotomy risks
  • introducing baby to cat
  • ligiment pain when standing up quickly

5. I’ve Got an Itch to Scratch. I Need Assistance.

Remember how I had an itchy armpit a month ago? That itchy pit spread into two itchy pits which expanded into itchy arms and an itchy back and sides and hips and upper thighs and belly and boobs. I thought I was going to rip my skin off, so I finally alerted my midwives.

I made the mistake of googling my symptoms, which of course led me to a bunch of articles that said itchy skin in the third trimester could by the symptom of a liver issue called obstetric cholestasis. Then I found stories of women who had lost their pregnancies because of obstetric cholestasis. And then I panicked Waffle a bit by relaying all this info to him.

I wasn’t too worried, but I wanted to be cautious. After I let the midwives know I was having EXTREME ITCHINESS, they told me to come in the next day. The tests ultimately came back normal, so that was a relief. Also, while they were getting some blood from me, they re-tested my A1C (hemoglobin) and my blood sugar is steadily in the non-diabetic range, so that’s good news, too!

The itching continues to suck. I was self-treating it with unscented lotion mixed with tea tree oil and lots and lots of witch hazel wipe-downs to soothe my skin throughout the day, but it was like, out of control. I had to reapply lotion and/or witch hazel every two hours. I was ducking into the bathroom or taking my top off at work all the time and at night it was unbearable. I had trouble falling and staying asleep… more than usual.

FullSizeRender 2

The midwives prescribed an antihistamine, which I was hesitant to take, but it seems to be helping. I still itch, but it’s manageable itchiness now and I can go a lot longer without reapplying lotion. I also bought this stupid expensive lotion with tea tree oil and vitamin E, which is AMAZING, but I think I’m going to go back to adding tea tree oil to regular unscented lotion because it’s, like, $10/bottle.

This shit is the SHIT. (Pic via Amazon)

This shit is the SHIT. (Pic via Amazon)


6. The Best Laid Plans…

Waffle and I are in the process of writing down our birth plan. We’ve talked about it a lot and there are things we both want. He is putting the labor decisions mainly in my hands. There are only a couple non-negotiables. I feel like it will be less stressful if I’m open to whatever happens in the moment. There are so many variables with labor and I feel more at peace with it all if I don’t make judgments or assumptions about anything.

Like, in an ideal world, I would like to have a natural birth, but if that doesn’t work out for some reason, that’s what it is. I definitely don’t want an elective c-section or to be talked into one if I don’t need one, but if it becomes medically necessary, then that’s what we’ll do.

Some things we are set on in regards to our labor and birth plan:

  • no circumcision if our baby is male assigned
  • skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth
  • non-instrumental delivery (no forceps)
  • early labor at home (with doula)
  • delayed clamping of the umbilical coard
  • no episiotomy (unless there is a very pressing medical reason — which is rare)
  • alone time with Remi after birth and tests, etc are over and before accepting visitors

Some things we’d prefer, but are fairly open to changing our mind on:

  • no pain medications or epidural
  • let bag of waters break on their own
  • let labor start on its own (no induction)
  • vaginal birth
  • spontaneous pushing (not forced)

7. Sipping My Way Into Labor

I’ve been drinking red raspberry leaf tea since the second trimester. According to some midwives and herbalists, it helps strengthen your uterus for an easy labor. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Couldn’t hurt, right?

Why not. (Pic via Amazon)

Why not. (Pic via Amazon)


6. Culturing the Korean-American Kid

I know, I know. I have several years to even be thinking about sending my kid to cultural camp, but I wanted to know what’s available locally. One of the perks of living in a medium-size city is that there are enough families with Korean kids locally that there is a Korean Cultural Camp in my city for one weekend every summer. I wanted to go to Korea Camp when I was a kid, when I found out that another family’s KAD (Korean adoptee) kids went to one. There just weren’t any near where I grew up.

Remi is probably going to hate Korean Cultural Camp when they’re old enough to go and also to roll their eyes at me, but I think it’s important to try it out. I’m still learning a lot of new things about my culture and the foods and history of my ancestry. I know absolutely none of the language. I really wish I’d had more exposure to Korean culture as a kid. I feel like I want to be able to share that with Remi.

This is a pajeon or "Korean pancake" and the first time I ever ate one I was 30 years old and that is very sad because that means I went 30 years without this eggy goodness in my life or mouth. (Recipe at Namiko Chen)

This is a pajeon or “Korean pancake” and the first time I ever ate one I was 30 years old and that is very sad because that means I went 30 years without this fluffy goodness in my life or mouth. (Recipe at Namiko Chen)

Most of the Korean cultural camps are religiously affiliated and the one near me is part of the “Christian Service Program” at a Jesuit high school, so hopefully it won’t be too awkward for a queer family to attend. I’ll let you know in, like, six years when Baby T. Rex is old enough to go and also after Remi is, like, you know, born.

KaeLyn is a 35-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating carbs, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 198 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. Happy 4! great article. i look at photos of me when i was younger too and feel heartbroken about how ugly i felt when i was a healthy, young, tom boy with other people’s voices in my head telling me how i should look. Fat femme emotional armor, need that on a t-shirt

    you’re gonna post something again before those six years right?

  2. Totally second hand excited for baby T-Rex!
    I look at older pictures of myself,too, btw.,and all I was able to see back then was my double chin, my belly, how fat I was.
    Now, when I look at those pictures I’m marveling at my health and strength back then.
    And then I grieve all the time I’ve spent scolding myself and dieting and being unhappy and, moreover, ungrateful, when I could’ve been simply happy and healthy.
    What saddens me most, however, is today’s kids still starving themselves and even more so, to become tiny and spindly.
    I literally walk out of clothing stores that run anorexic and anorex minus sizes in silent protest.

    • I think the sad thing is that everyone, especially women, whether they wear a size 0 or size 28, has that voice inside telling them they’re not good enough/pretty enough/thin enough. :/

      I just want people to love the bodies they have! But damn it, it’s easier said than done.

    • That’s good to know about people of Jesuit faith! Honestly, most practicing Catholics I know are very socially progressive people who are openly accepting of others. It seems like it’s the Catholic Church, itself, that’s behind the times on that stuff.

  3. WHO do people (particularly strangers) think they are to comment on others bodies? I’m pretty secure in my mid-sized body in general. I was crossing the street the other day and some biker zipped out of nowhere almost running me over. As if that weren’t enough, he felt the need to screech “chubbeeeee!” at me. A group of sorority girls on the corner smirked and stared at me. I flushed red but my predominant emotion was rage. For a good 2 minutes, I fantasized about throwing a heavy object at the idiot and knocking him off his stupid bike. I’m not sure anger is progress. I just wanted to say this because what you said about people commenting on your body is spot on.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you. Ugh. I hate that that’s the worst thing someone can think of to say to someone else. I think fantasizing about throwing rocks at this asshat is a totally valid response.

  4. I just had a man in a restaurant compliment me on my belly and ask me when the baby is due. I am not pregnant.

    I just froze and felt the self-hatred wash over me again. Intellectually I told myself, so he thought you were pregnant, and you weren’t! What’s so dangerous about that! But the shittiest thing is the comment still affects me, I look at my reflection in shop windows to see if my belly is hanging out and wear different clothes now. Of course the history is a lot longer, I grew up fat with a fat-shaming mother and heavy school abuse, but I am SO ANGRY and insanely sad that it still has such a huge effect on me. So angry, so sad, so powerless. Thank you for this space to share.

    Could really use the fat femme emotional armour, when someone hears where to buy a good one cheaply, please let me know.

    • Things you should never guess at include whether someone is pregnant or not. This happened to me once, but at least the offender was a small child, so it was hard to be mad at him. But it definitely took a toll on my self-esteem that day.

      The armor I have has dents in it, for sure. It’s not infallible and there are definitely days or times when triggers come back up for me, too. Sending consensual fat solidarity hugs!

  5. Do you get Aveeno in the US? If not, oats were the best at making my pregnancy itching bearable. Run the bath water through oats and soak – it’s bliss!

    Thanks for a great article. I was always thin and strong before being pregnant and I’m still struggling to accept my post pregnancy body with the extra pounds that don’t feel right on my frame and not having recovered my fitness or strength. I don’t talk about it because I don’t want my kids to hear those things. I’m having to learn how to accept myself later in life and your article resonated with me and helped reinforce those positive messages I try to get myself to believe. Thank you and good luck for the last trimester!

    • Thanks for the tips! I haven’t picked up Aveeno yet, but I’ll try it! I think I’ve used their oat lotion before and it was pretty good. If I ever get around to finding time to take a bath, I’ll remember that tip!

      I’m sure it’s going to be a constant battle to keep those negative thought at bay, especially post-partum. Cheers to you for trying! I really do think positive self-talk helps. It took me a long time of looking in the mirror and forcing myself to think positive things about myself until I started truly believing it. Good luck!

    • Want to confirm that we do have Aveeno in the US. It’s my favorite kind of lotion and their eczema variety is the best solution I’ve found for my occasional eczema-like issue.

  6. KaeLyn, you knock the breath out of me with every post in this series. So good.

    My body-hate issues (mainly cellulite and acne) as a young person started to turn around when I finally embraced being queer. I really do feel like getting out from under the thumb of patriarchal expectations in one way helped me in this way too.

  7. “I don’t want Remi to hear Waffle or me talking about how disgusting we are or how we need to lose weight or diet or any of that negative self-talk. I don’t want to normalize that kind of thinking in our home.”

    Hi hello this is my favorite; I’m late to this article; you are my favorite

    My sister and I have both had this conversation re: not talking about our bodies like that in front of future children

    We both had to spend a few years going literally insane with anorexia and bulimia to get there, and to realize how much what we grew up hearing normalized dieting and body hatred, and how sad we are for our family members from previous generations who never got to the shaky truce we both did with our bodies and with food

    This is my favorite / You are my favorite

    • Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry that it manifested in disordered eating for you and your sister. It’s definitely, and unfortunately, not uncommon. 🙁

      I think “shaky truce” is a great place to be. It’s definitely not always easy to remain body-positive. There’s a lot of triggers out there. I agree it’s super sad to see people I love still stuck in that cycle of internalized shame.

    • Haha. Good to know! I know a lot of cool Catholics. I feel like it’s the Church with a capital “c” that is the problem. Most practicing Catholics seem to be more open and accepting around issues of sexuality and reproduction.

  8. All the body talk = so many feels. I’m still shaking off things I internalized as a child — especially the mixed-messaging of an Italian immigrant family that loves to eat, but also loves to comment on how everyone looks, all the time.

    You two are going to raise such a beautifully-hearted human. Can’t wait until this column gets to turn into Count Down Until T Rex Leaves for College. <3

    • OH, YES, I relate! My dad’s side of the family is 100% Italian (half-Sicilian and half-Northern) and food was a big part of his family’s culture and history. I will always judge all sauces by my grandma’s sauce and all raviolis by my grandmas raviolis.

      There’s also a lot of judginess on that side of the family, unfortunately, and we’ve become distant from them because of it. :/ I think it affected my dad when he was growing up, particularly the focus on what he looks like and his size and that kind of trickled down to me unintentionally.

      Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, all that to say, I relate! Some of my friends recently sent their eldest kids to college. It seems so far away, but I bet it’s going to come quicker than I think! I hope we’ll both still be writing for AS in 18 years! And that AS is making bank and is still a thriving community!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing so much. I have body image issues sometimes, even though they didn’t kick in until I was 23. It may have something to do with being in a client-facing job and realizing that people judged me for my youth and sometimes size.

    I’m so excited to hear more about your experience welcoming a little human into the world.

    • Thanks for sharing, @jonbonanchovi. I definitely used to be even more concerned about “respectability politics” in how I dressed and looked when I was younger. People definitely treat you differently when they perceive you as young, particularly if you also defy norms around size/gender/etc. I think I’ve just accepted that I look about five years younger than I am and that’s what it is and people can respect me or step off. But I have moments of doubt, too!

  10. This is lovely and poignant. Thank you for writing it.

    And I really want to know the answer to “does my cat know I’m pregnant?”

    Good luck with everything (especially introducing your fur babies to your new baby.)

    • Apparently, pregnant women give off pheromones that some animals are responsive to. I can’t tell if my cat can tell. He’s a weirdo and a cuddle-bug all the time, so it’s hard to tell if he is particularly aware that I’m pregnant. He’s definitely aware that something is up with all the new furniture and stuff coming into the house. I can’t tell if he can sense that I’ve changed. It’s an interesting question to ponder?

  11. So I read your paragraph about the Korean Cultural Camp and thought, “Wait, I know a family that lives near Rochester, NY. One of their kids was adopted from Korea and the father works at a Jesuit high school. I wonder if they go to this camp.” Looking it up online, I discover that, yup, they are in the picture on the homepage (and I also recognized the name of the camp because they’ve posted about it on Facebook). SMALL WORLD. Also an intersection of my worlds that I didn’t expect since this family is part of the Catholic world that I’m not as involved with these days. I will second what other people have said on this thread about Jesuits. They are the most social justice oriented Catholic group I know of. In Catholic circles, Social Justice often means “ardently pro-life” and I do have a problem with the Jesuit penchant for service trips where they send high schoolers to other countries to do service work there, which is not always in the best interest of the people they’re helping. That being said, Jesuit-affiliated Catholic groups are still where I would go to find Catholics who are likely to think the Church’s stance on gay marriage is wrong and who are more likely to have progressive (in the American political sense) social justice ethics (except regarding abortion). I think it’s worth checking out, especially by the time Remi is old enough to attend. Good luck!

    • Hmm, that’s interesting – when I think of “social justice oriented” Catholics I tend to think of the ones who focus more on the poor, on peace, and on the environment (thanks, Laudato Si!) than on the stridently pro-life ones. I’m sure there’s some overlap, but I don’t always see it. I do think that some orders of women religious are probably even more social justice oriented than the Jesuits – think Sisters of St. Joseph and Sisters of Loretto. They’re awesome!

      Also, sixteen-year-old you is lovely, and so are those flower crowns you and Waffle are wearing in that picture. (Or is Waffle’s just leaves? I can’t tell)

      • I didn’t mean to imply that the pro-life issue is all social justice means in Catholic circles. In my experience, there is also emphasis on caring for the poor and on peace (although those are often just taken for granted as what any good person would do, not specifically a social justice cause), as well as prisoners and immigrants. But in my experience, pro-life is a really big one, is focused on disproportionately, and is the issue that would set Catholic social justice teaching apart from progressive social justice causes. In the case of the particular Jesuit high school in question, they have a school field trip to March for Life and participate in Break for Life. (And the family I know who works there and also participates in the Korean camp is heavily involved in pro-life causes.) The high school does also encourage volunteering at nursing homes, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and inner-city schools, doing mission trips, and participating in walks to raise money for breast cancer research, etc. So I was speaking specifically about this school and also from my general experience. (It seems like the Korean camp is part of their Christian Service Program in that their students can volunteer at the camp to gain volunteer hours towards their graduation requirements, not because it directly espouses ALL of their values, BTW.) I’m probably giving way too much information than your response warrants.

        This is a good summary of Catholic Social Teaching, which you’re probably familiar with. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm
        Like I said, there is a lot of overlap with progressive social justice and I think a lot of Catholics are able to find a happy balance for themselves there. (Or not – people have different values.) And the overlap is also dependent on where you are.

        But yeah, good call on the nuns. I couldn’t come up with any names earlier!

        KaeLyn – sorry I took this so far off-topic.

        • I hear you. So I shouldn’t mention I used to work for Planned Parenthood? lol Seriously, though, I do a lot of work on certain activist issues with Catholic folks and clergy, in general. Immigration, police reform, racial justice, even some LGBTQ stuff, etc. Repro health and rights is definitely the one area we don’t work on together, but that’s OK.

          I’m sure it will go fine with the Jesuit camp 6 years from now. 🙂 Thanks for letting me know you’ve heard good things about it! I’m glad to know that!

  12. Thank you, KaeLyn, for continuing to share your journey with us. I have always loved your writing and I have really been loving this column. Your pieces have touched on so so many things: body image, identity, culture, adoption. I just learn so much every time I read these pieces and see parts of my identity and struggles mirrored in so much of what you have to say. Thank you!

  13. I’ve been working out again lately (yay) and was flexing in the mirror and making funny faces like a goof. I am not working out so it will show- I was pleased to know I could do more pushups now than I could 2 weeks ago and am reaping the mental health benefits, whether anyone could tell my looking or not. But I do want to pay attention and see what changes as I get stronger.

    And I immediately had a flash memory of my mom flexing her arm and pushing the underarm bit back and forth and calling it “flab”. She has done this for as long as I can remember. Even now, at 67 and with stronger arms than most of my 30 something friends.

    And it made me so sad that the most wonderful person I know who is beautiful in every way has never been and will never be truly happy with her body.

    I’m happy for baby Remi that they’ll have parents who consciously try to counter all the negative messages. What love your child will know.

    Thanks again for sharing your journey with us!

    • Guh, that story just hit me in the gut. My cousins and I used to wiggle our arms and call it “lunch lady arms” when we were kids. I don’t know where that came from and it’s problematic in so many ways, but I HATED my arms so much when I was younger. Like, more than any other part of my body except maybe my stomach. There was a time when I was really self-conscious about showing my upper arms at all. So, so, so sad that your powerful mama never embraced her guns. <3

  14. I’m a fat femme who would love to be pregnant one day, but am worried about how I would deal with my body changing so dramatically so this is wonderful.

    When I’m feeling down about my body I like to think about those middle/high school pictures when I was a cute little nugget, and yet I thought so many terrible things about my body. I’m probably just as cute now when I’m feeling down about my bod, so I just have to ride it out.

    Also, you look so happy in your recent pics! Congrats to you and your family :))

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