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Sexy Boots

The Stupid Selfie, Ottawa, February 2013
The Stupid Selfie, Ottawa, February 2013

I bought a new pair of shoes for no other reason that they make me feel sexy. That, plus they were on sale, $50 instead of $120, a price I would never pay for footwear—I ain’t Carrie Bradshaw.

Perched on these comfortable high heels, I feel good. My legs seem longer, I am taller, I stand straighter and I am more confident.

I want to look pretty again. I want to seduce, I want to feel sexy and I want to be desired.

After nine months of avoiding mirrors and crying every time I took the weekly “bump shot” to document the pregnancy, after feeling like an incubator and after getting used to my new status as Mark’s mother, I want to be a woman again. I may not have much time to pluck my eyebrows, wax my legs, put on nail polish or do my hair—not that I really took the time to do so before Mark, I have always been fairly low-maintenance—but I care about “looking good”, whatever that means.

After Mark was born, I bought a lot of clothes. Wearing my old ones didn’t feel right anymore and well, I hadn’t been shopping for almost a year (I didn’t buy pregnancy clothes) so it was about time. It started with practical items such as underwear, socks, and moved on to jeans, leggings, dresses and other pretty and girly things.

Not being pregnant anymore was something to celebrate. It felt great.

Like a teen, I am searching for who I am and I am still dealing with my very own identity crisis (and a needy seven-kilo baby dragon).

There is definitely a “before” and “after” the pregnancy. Not physically—I look the same as I did before, with the addition of a few white hair here and there (when did that happen?)—but mentally. The year 2012 was a long hiatus. I was a stranger to my own body and nothing felt right, including being “Zhu”.

I think it all started when I was in France, last year, just a few months pregnant with a very unnoticeable baby bump. I got catcalled in the street. It happens a lot in France—I call it a side effect of “walking while woman”. Any female aged 12 to 50 is bound to be hit on in a fairly harmless way on a daily basis. Groups of guys usually shout things like “eh eh, mademoiselle, you are hot!” when you walk by, or try to get your “06” (cellphone number). Unless you are actually interested, you can just ignore them and keep on walking. Some women may feel an ego boost, other find it demeaning and objectifying but all French are used to deal with them. What can you do?

I am no exception. I have been getting catcalls since I’m 12 (I did look older) and it has never bothered me much (and no, I have never given my cellphone number to a random guy in the street either). And yes, I do wear a wedding ring since I am married but French guys don’t really care.

But that day, “walking while pregnant”, getting hit on felt horribly wrong. I know no one could tell I was pregnant but me but when I heard the classic “mamzelle, eh, mamzelle, tu vas où comme ça?” I froze and almost burst out crying.

“I’m going nowhere, can’t you see I’m fucking pregnant you moron!” I wanted to shout back.

Somehow, being seen as what I was—a woman—instead of what I felt like—a walking oven busy baking a mini-baby—was disturbing.

For nine months, I didn’t feel like a woman. That’s actually pretty ironic since during that time period, my female organs were poked and probed on a regular basis and that I was doing the woman-only job to grow a baby in my womb. I was supposed to be glowing—well, I wasn’t.

And now I’m trying to overcome the adjustment period and to be a woman again.

Gosh, that sounds awfully corny, like a line from a Britney Spears song.

But it matters to me. I am not “just” a mother, I’m also an almost thirty-year-old woman with fantasies, desires, crushes and cravings.

So I put on my shoes, took one of these ridiculous selfies with my BlackBerry, and resolved to be a woman again.

Feel free to catcall me now. I may need that ego boost.

The Boots and I in Chinatown, Ottawa, February 2013
The Boots and I in Chinatown, Ottawa, February 2013
With Mark and the massive snow pile in front of our home
With Mark and the massive snow pile in front of our home

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