“The literary equivalent of a summer night, a good friend and a gin-and-tonic: Shannon is a deft writer; a natural storyteller with a wicked turn of phrase and frighteningly specific memory...”

Download Shannon's story, "Beautiful Boy, Brandon Lee," in its full length, excerpted from her book, Smash, Crash & Burn.

Pregnant and Proud (Gestation: 27 Weeks, 4 Days)

In film school I made an eight millimeter film on female body image for my non-narrative film class. I decided it was important to demonstrate that women of all sizes were beautiful. So I begged my actress friend Beatrice, a lush size fourteen, to walk about nude in the six-a.m.-freezing-cold-of-a-winter-nudist-beach morning and let me film her with my hand-cranked camera.

Her only condition was that I too must strip.

I haggled her down to just going topless as I’ve never been particularly confident with my cuchilacha flying free during daylight hours. She accepted. When I asked my film assistant Jen to join me, she said laconically, “My tits aren’t up to it.”

Nude on the beach cranking away at my film lo those many years ago I was saluted with solemn admiration by a handful of early bird surfers heading out to sea. I was a size four. I’m not anymore. When I’m not pregnant I’m a size 8/10. If you’re a West Los Angeles mom, which I am, that’s a bit on the “corn-fed” side. If you’re from almost anywhere else in America that’s no-bigger-than-a-minute.

But I suspect 99.9 percent of American women are dissatisfied with their bodies regardless of their weight and are always torturing themselves to reach some idealized goal. (Maybe even Gwyneth, although I doubt it!) Whether I should be or not, I am usually one of those dissatisfied women.  Some days even my earlobes feel fat.

Pregnant with Number Two

But last night as I hefted my almost seven-months pregnant thirty-pounds-up body from the tub and studied it under the harsh overhead lights in our bathroom mirror I realized … I’m a fecund wonder. Pregnant and proud. And that is something well … beautiful.

And so … to quote another voluptuous woman …

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips. 
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s in the fire of my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.

I say, 

It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smiled,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman, 
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
                – Maya Angelou



4 comments

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  1. Tiffany T
    Tiffany T 11 January, 2011, 18:17

    How did the film turn out? I read a study that stated that men in the US (who looked at pictures of nude women of varying sizes) preferred women who were size 12 while women who looked at the same pictures thought the women who were size 6 were perfect. Who are we trying to be "perfect" for?

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  2. Meredith
    Meredith 11 January, 2011, 21:28

    I just found your blog and absolutely love it! I wanted to send an email (maybe you wisely don't have a contact button), but couldn't find an address. My name is Meredith and I have a newish podcast and blog as a hobby at http://overthinkingmom.com. I'd love to interview you about your experience being pregnant again (I only have one daughter). It's fairly low budget (I use skype for interviews), but if interested send me an email at info at overthinkingmom dot com.

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  3. Shannon Bradley-Colleary
    Shannon Bradley-Colleary 13 January, 2011, 12:36

    I need to get a comment button. Am so glad you're enjoying the blog, but I don't want to misrepresent myself. Read my "About Me" which explains that this blog is taken from a journal I kept during my second pregnancy a few years ago. It was a book I was hoping to have published, but never quite finished. I decided to start my blog there then rapidly catch up to my present day. I am also integrating my journal with present day media, which is why it might seem confusing. In any case, if you're still interested let me know. xo S

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  4. Shannon Bradley-Colleary
    Shannon Bradley-Colleary 13 January, 2011, 12:37

    Oops, I meant "contact me" button. Still trying to figure the tech stuff out.

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