Janice Shaw Crouse

The pregnant woman walked into the room like she owned “da joint.” She was beautiful, but it was her glowing demeanor that drew all eyes in her direction. Then there was the “little” matter of the light pink knit top she wore that was cut deep and wide in the front. At four to five months pregnant, she filled the top bountifully; there was no way not to notice.

We’ve grown used to the tourists in Washington wearing clothes more appropriate for the beach, but seeing Victoria’s Secret attire at a meeting of professionals is another matter entirely. The amazing display was definitely pushing the envelope; an LA-style invasion of the DC workplace. Still everyone at the meeting maintained the polite fiction that there was nothing out of the ordinary about her appearance. There was, however, no way to avoid her attributes. With her neckline dipping lower than Bush’s poll numbers, she hadn’t left that as an option.

I wondered what her intentions were. Was her outfit a power play to compete with the other women? Was it an immature attempt to get attention? Was her daring a bravado way to balance her status vis-à-vis the other more accomplished and experienced women at the table? Was she simply reveling in what pregnancy was doing to her figure and making the most of today’s fashions to happily show off the changes? Was it all of the above . . . or none? At any rate I, for one, was surprised that she didn’t seem the least bit ill at ease.

I also couldn’t help but wonder about the reactions of the other women around the table. I knew at least two of the women were married without children –– one in her late 50s and the other in her early 40s. The beautiful young woman’s unabashed flaunting of the effects of pregnancy on her figure brought to the fore certain central inherent realities of womanhood that are normally pushed to the margins of attention in the workaday world of professional women. Short of asking directly – which I wasn’t about to do – there was no way of knowing the degree to which the other women around the table were consciously confronting the issues her “condition” highlighted.

All of the “policy wonk” women involved in the meeting are familiar with the research data relating to marriage and the family. The average age of first marriage continues to rise as does the average age at which women have their first child, whether married or not. Today, many professional women face a future where the likelihood of finding an eligible and willing marriage partner to father a child are about the same as getting hit by lightening.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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