Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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How Muffin Tops Are Made And Why We Must Embrace Their Bakers

I was sitting in a circle of women and toddlers this morning when it struck me all at once. I was THAT girl. The one I have consistently rolled my eyes at lo these many years. The one whose fashion choices I mocked, choices I absolutely could not understand someone making while being of sound mind. The one who looks as if she's letting bread dough rise within the confines of her jeans.

You know the one.

I'm not talking about the young girls, the ones - God bless 'em - just trying to dress like their skinnier friends. No, not them. I'm talking about the older women. Women of my same age. Women who should know better. Many's the time I've been innocently strolling the aisles of Walmart only to be viciously confronted with pale, mottled fleshy muffin tops peeping from jeans strangling skin so violently you wonder how the perpetrator remains upright.

Today I was that woman.

I sat in the circle of moms and toddlers at Violet's weekly Kindermusik class when I happened to catch a fellow mom glance toward my backside and quickly look away as if what she saw burned her eyeballs - which, as you're about to read, it totally did. It was a fast glance, a split second glance but the kind of glance you know means they were looking at something. A glance very much like the glance you receive when you're talking with someone who quickly looks at your teeth or nose and you know, you just know, they are beholding something sinister.

Instinctively I reached toward my backside where her eyes had wandered and there it was. A glorious muffin top spilling over my skinny jeans. Both flanks, ladies and gentlemen. Thar she was. A full moon rising between my jeans and my sweater while I sat there with a dumbass grin pasted to my face, obliviously clapping along with my kid. That's when the making of muffin tops struck me. I checked out of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and had myself an epiphany about a whole other body part.

The muffin top perpetrators are not women who have no taste. They are not women who don't check the mirror before they leave the house. They are not women who enjoy displaying their motley skins to strangers who scoff behind their bulging backsides. The muffin top perpetrators are women, probably mothers, just like you and me. They used to be skinny and then life happened. They popped out a kid or two or three and felt like crap for a long time and then maybe one day they tried on that old pair of skinny jeans. The ones they wore after kid one, before kid two and lo and behold those jeans fit! It was a triumphant moment. There was great rejoicing and those moms left the home with an extra little bounce in their step. Perhaps they felt as if the universe beamed a little of their Before Baby selves back into their systems because they fit into their jeans, y'all! Sure they had to lay down on beds and suck in stomachs and squinch butt cheeks until sweat raced down cracks and pull up zippers of jeans with pairs of pliers, but I think we can all agree that counts as fitting into jeans. And yeah, okay, maybe buttons of jeans were engraved into stomachs within seconds of sitting down (and remained tattooed there for days after jeans were removed) but these women, they fit into their jeans, y'all. Jeans they maybe thought they'd never fit into again. Hope restored.

And that is how muffin tops are made. The muffins, they are not baked by ignorant, style-less women. They are baked on the wings of hope and triumph.

So we must embrace the muffin tops. Love the muffin tops. Don't cast aspersions upon the muffin tops and their bakers, don't issue derisive eye rolls for their bakers are you and they are me. Our sisters, our daughters, our mothers...Worn out by motherhood but so thrilled to stumble across an old piece of ourselves, this small triumph of Before Baby jeans fitting, that we are unaware of how ridiculous we look crammed into skinny jeans about five sizes too small.

Reader Comments (17)

By pure chance I stumbled on to this video this afternoon and just had to share it with you!!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Wow...that was so timely and much appreciated. As a matter of fact, I was just sucker punched in the face by a similiar, if not kinder reality. We stood side by side before the large bathroom mirror, I in my nursing scrubs and he, shirtless, thin, examining his stoma. Moments before, my "patient" had appeared in his driveway, robe open, bare chested, half full colostomy bag flapping in the breeze....He waited patiently as I rooted around in my car trunk for supplies. When I came up for air and caught wind of him I was appalled. And then amused. I mean...jeez louise! While life can throw you a doozey, it was quite evident that this man was completely unconcerned with being seen in his current condition. Never mind his business. Conversely, I stand before his bathroom mirror hearing my family express their concerns, " Gina got big...mmmm....she's got...pssst....arm curtains...hahha"" These are my thoughts. Self absorbed. Appalling....amusing..and then appalling again. Eager to "get back to my 'real' self while this dear man, God bless him, I wonder if he ever gave a jacksass about abdominal bloating. Good for him. I need to get back to the gym...muffins up!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergina

Just had the best time google imaging "muffin tops"... I, too, rock a mean muffin top and am not at all ashamed... ok, maybe a little... but google imaging anything 9 times out of 10 makes me feel better about myself... And so did your post!!!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril

Ha - so sad but true! It's the second child that did it. I am SO the person you described and I love your perspective. Let's be happy for fitting in our skinny jeans at all! I never thought a long tank top would be so important.

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMuffy

"baked on the wings of hope"

Monica, I love you. I honestly love you. :)

Here's to all of us, doing what we can while celebrating the little victories of zipping up those skinny jeans, or strapless dress (Oh yeah. That's my white whale. I WILL fit into that dress again!)

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

"Sure they had to lay down on beds and suck in stomachs and squinch butt cheeks until sweat raced down cracks and pull up zippers of jeans with pairs of pliers, but I think we can all agree that counts as fitting into jeans. And yeah, okay, maybe buttons of jeans were engraved into stomachs within seconds of sitting down (and remained tattooed there for days after jeans were removed) "

Been there....Done That....

You absolutely rock lady!!!!


March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

I have a muffin top to end them all... in fact, my muffin top has its very own muffin top!

What a very apt piece... I myself bemoan my muffin top at least twice each week when it becomes obvious that even though an item goes on and fits semi-okay, it looks AWFUL on account of the MT... I think it might be ''aspersions'' rather than ''dispersions'' though.

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

"baked on the wings of hope and triumph" most profound and hilarious thing I have ever read. thanks! oh, and hate to tell you that wonderful loved fantastic 3rd kids adds extra yeast to the mix.

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah e

Love this post, Monica, and all the comments.

What is it about that second kid? After the first, I could still rock low-rise jeans, shorts, and even bikinis. But now, not so much. I must have 50 pairs of jeans in my closet. (Don't judge, they're all from the thrift store at about $3 a pop--total spent is not even the cost of one pair of "premium denim."). Why? Because a proper fitting pair of jeans has become my Holy Grail: It's gotta be a hip-slung jean with a darkish wash; there needs to be some stretch but not too much stretch; and, most important, the rise must sit high enough on the hip so as not to squish out too much muffin top, but be enough below the waist so as not to promote the dreaded post-baby #2 belly overhang. Talk about a sliver of a sweet spot! Needless to say, I do not often hit the mark. Given the lesser of the two evils, I will always go for the muffin top over the belly overhang every time. The belly overhang is just so uncomfortable, plus I see it and that makes me feel bad. The muffin top, while I know it's there, is more invisible--to me, at least! You all are giving me the strength to just own it. It's other people's problem now...

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeanie

Psst...if you who struggle with muffin still want a less celebratory look, find yourselves a pair of jeans with a slightly wider 'waistband or 'secret panel'. Yes, I know, "secret panel my ass" but the wider waistband seems a viable option when you just need that extra sense of confidence. The fit will simulaneously camophlage/cover and snuggly compact, yes, actually compress excess skin into some secret "third' space. The zipper is still shorter so as not to compromise your junior status....I think Lee makes them, but ALWAYS check the zipper length so as not to cram yourself into a pair of Mommers.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergina

in defense of my own muffin top: I have been wearing hiphugger jeans for over a decade. I always choose ones that fit perfectly in that spot. snug, but I don't have to lay down or "suck it in" to button them. and I wear a belt too. but no matter what style of jeans I choose, they always scooch down when I've been walking! and then bam, muffin top until I remember to hike them back up again.

I can never win!

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

Loved this post. And yes, it's aspersions we cast, not dispersions.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCacky

@Cacky - I TOTALLY knew that. I was just checking to make sure you guys did. (Fixed it, thank you!)

March 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterMonica

This is, hands down, the best thing I have read all year. Yes, yes, and yes! Monica, I feel like we are neighbors and talk shit about our lives every night on the porch over wine and smokes. You are so tuned in! Thank you!

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

A well-aimed mist from a spray bottle of water combined with a few deep knee bends works for me (nearly) every time!

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNashPam

All hail the mighty muffin top. Loved this, thank you for sharing!

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

As a MT sporter, Jeanie's comments really made me laugh. I've reached the point where I refuse to be uncomfortably stuffed in jeans even if I can technically get them on. I have only one pair that fit and aren't "mommers" (and I'm not even a mom). About a year ago for all of 5 minutes I fit into my skinniest of jeans with the most minimal of MTs. I felt like a million bucks and I've been trying to get back there every since. As I eat another doughnut.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaffoula

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