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I never had to worry about my weight until I gave birth to an 11-pound boy the same year my husband became a chef. I was one of those annoying women who could "eat whatever I wanted" and still stay slim.
After the C-section, which caused my stomach muscles to pull apart, and the nightly gourmet dinners my husband tested on me, I was never the same. And it made me, well, look pregnant even though I wasn't.
The magazines didn't seem to have a body type I fit into. Not quite a pear or apple, more like a marshmallow center with toothpick arms and legs. And because I never had to eat mindfully and love food, well, I kept gaining. Right there in my belly.
(The photo up top is of me while pregnant, not as I look now. But ... close.)
At first, it was fun. I would use it as a comedy crutch at the Groundlings, where I perform sketch and improv. My sketch where I peel off my Spanx to reveal a jelly belly to rival Santa's had audiences laughing for months. (Except that ONE night when the audience must have been full of a bunch of frat boys and I heard an audible, "Ughhhhh.")
Because if you're complimented on looking good for being pregnant and you AREN'T pregnant, what does that make you?
On my days away from the theater and not wearing Spanx I would go about my life as a mom like anyone else.
That's when the questions started.
At my local convenience store, the kind clerk pointed to my center, smiling, "Baby on the way! Congratulations, No. 2!" He said. I was paralyzed. Flushed. I didn't want to embarrass him. So I said, "Yep. Uh. Yeah. I gotta go." Now I could never go back to that store! How would I explain my belly never got bigger and—honestly—never got smaller?
Then at the grocery store a woman told me to "put down the watermelon because a woman in your condition shouldn't be carrying heavy things!" Apparently she thought I was carrying my own watermelon. "Heh," I said, embarrassed. Where were these people's manners? Didn't they know you NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant? Even if she is nine months pregnant?
My husband and I attended a wedding and I was so happy to get dressed up for a night out. At the reception, a sweet man walked the entire length of the ballroom to me and said, "I just have to say, my wife and I have been looking at you all night. You are such a beautiful PREGNANT WOMAN. You REALLY CARRY WELL."
"Thanks." I said. Humiliated. Because if you're complimented on looking good for being pregnant and you AREN'T pregnant, what does that make you? Not looking good. At all.
The final straw happened when I was signing up at the gym. Finally, I was ready to get rid of this belly. A woman was in line in front of me and at one point said, "You know, I just felt it was TIME to get in shape! I mean look at YOU! You're PREGNANT, and you're doing it! Good for you!"
I had had enough.
"I'm not pregnant. My stomach is fat. That's why I'm signing up. I carry my fat in my midsection."
It felt good to finally be honest.
She was mortified. "I just—oh my God. I mean, you are so slim everywhere else on your body, I was just—I'm so sorry."
I had finally reached my breaking point. I mean, do I go around commenting on other people's bodies? No. I have a fat stomach. It felt good to finally be honest. I continued, "Yep, I carry my fat in my midsection. Where do you carry yours?"
A few months later I found myself back at the gym. I was sweating away on the elliptical, probably listening to the "Flashdance" soundtrack (great for working out inspiration!) when this woman came up to me.
"Hey, are you Ariane Price? From the Groundings?" She said.
"Yes!" I exclaimed.
Being that the paparazzi doesn't know I exist, I enjoy the recognition I get at times for my work at the theater.
She continued. "I just have to say. I saw your muffin-top sketch. The one where you take your belly out and jiggle it around? And where you say, 'If it were a booty, at least it would be in style'? And you call it a booty belly? I loved that!"
"That's so funny," I said. "Because I'm trying to lose that very belly right now, right here."
"Oh, don't!" She said. "You are so funny and so relatable!"