September 19, 2012
Professorial Pregnancy Part 1: the body as a text
The professorial body is a text read and judged by student subjects as well as faculty and staff colleagues. So when that professorial body is both (cisgendered*) female and pregnant, it can feel as though all scrutiny intensifies. For me this sense of intensification has yielded both awkwardness as well as opportunity. In this (currently 3-part) series I will be sharing my ideas and experiences of being a pregnant professor.
When I teach I am often in front of the room, with students facing forward. I don't sit down much unless I am evaluating presentations or we are conducting the seminar/discussion portion of our meetings. In many ways it can be difficult to not feel as though I am on display. But through repetition and trial and error, I became used to display. Eventually, I didn't think too much about it.
I have written before about how I've tried to balance my stylish interests with academic professionalism, particularly as I transitioned from "student" to "faculty." And I've feared that if/when my clothing became a subject for discussion (even positive or complimentary), appearance ventured toward the realm of distraction. In most professional settings, when self-expression becomes too distracting it can pose untold problems to the professional.
When I found out I was pregnant and calculated that my third trimester would correspond closely with my fall semester, I became a little apprehensive. For me, this has marked yet another professional context with which I am unfamiliar. And just recently, I began to feel confident and settled in my visual professional identity.
With no certain knowledge of how I would "carry," how my body would change, which parts of me would grow, etc., I took comfort in wardrobe. After all, wardrobe can be a venue for visual performative control, barring the usual budget realities and financial limitations. Part 2 will discuss this process of exerting control via wardrobe.
Above is what I wore on the first day of class.
Montserrat dress from Anthropologie
J. Crew Factory Cardigan
Chloé zipper flats
Redraven Necklace (c/o); Kors watch; Starfish cuff
*To clarify, a person who is cisgender does experience less scrutiny than a person who is trans but being female is still the marked category within a binary framework for gender.