I’ve been asked if I’m pregnant a number of times by a number of people in a number of cities. I’ve been asked at 130 lbs, 140 lbs, and 150 lbs. I’ve been asked while wearing “empire-wasted” dresses, loose-fitting tops and sweaters, work aprons from my Whole Foods Market days, and most recently in a long skirt with a wide black-banded waste. I’ve been asked in Baltimore, Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro, and now Murphys, CA.
When I post to this health and wellness blog, I’m hoping to establish myself as an expert in the field by offering excellent, evidence-based advice and a creative perspective on how to live a sweet, rich life — and I believe that experts should look the part.
At the risk of completely undermining my credibility, but to prove a very salient point at the expense of my own ego (or perhaps to serve it, I haven’t yet decided), I’m telling you now that your “wellness guru” is asked if she’s pregnant on a regular basis.
By regular basis, I mean that since 2007, I’ve been asked about 8 times, counting one time when a stranger commented on my “belly” to her friend as I passed her on the sidewalk a few years ago (at about 148 lbs). I’ve been asked “when are you due?”, “may I ask when the baby’s due?”, “are you pregnant?” and my favorite, “can I ask you a question? don’t get mad, are you pregnant? No? oh, it’s just the dress.” All but 2 were women asking, and of those 6, 3 were of child-bearing age and one was my mother telling me that I looked pregnant to prove a point about how certain clothes make me look. Out of those 8, I’d say that about half were asking in earnest and the other half were being mean. Here are two examples of actual clothes I’ve been wearing when asked:
I do not believe that I’ve looked pregnant in any of the outfits or uniforms I’ve worn when asked. I do not believe I looked pregnant at 130 lbs, and I do not believe I looked pregnant at 150 lbs. I do not believe I look pregnant today. In fact, I wore the dress on the right this past weekend and two complete strangers went out of their way to tell me that they loved my feminine figure and how nice I looked in my dress.
Lucky for me, the same mother who “wasn’t telling me to hurt my feelings” that I looked pregnant “in a very cute dress” also did a great job instilling self-confidence in me as a child, and I still have that self-confidence today.
Lucky for me, the fact that I’ve been asked if I’m pregnant almost 10 times hasn’t sent me down an anorexic spiral of self-loathing or abuse.
I’ve told my friends and my husband that it’s happened so often at this point that I can just laugh it off, but in truth, I cry every time. Laughing is a defense mechanism to shield a temporary feeling of total deflation. Every time it happens, it ruins my day and keeps me up at night.
But I always bounce back.
My parents happened to be in town visiting the most recent time a stranger asked me when my baby was due, which spurred the comments I just mentioned from my mom. My dad said that he once asked a woman if she was pregnant, and he’ll never do it again or forget that day. He remembers exactly where he was, what she was wearing, and the look on her face. It was over 35 years ago.
If that’s how an accidental offender feels, how do you think the victim must feel?
I’ll tell you. I remember where I was and what I was wearing every single time it’s happened to me since 2007, and I don’t think I’m soon to forget. I think about those times when I’m feeling down to confirm whatever negative thing I’m already thinking about myself or my body.
I’m sharing this very personal Achilles heal with you, because I’m tired of female on female inconsideration/competition/aggression/whatever it is, and I’m tired of people in general asking offensive, ignorant questions. If someone as confident as I am can be as bothered by this as I am, imagine how devastating it is to others who weren’t constantly told how awesome they were as young kids. I want people to stop and think before they ruin someone else’s day with a question like “are you pregnant?”
Spread the Love: A Positive Feedback Loop
I believe that part of taking care of ourselves is creating an environment around us that is loving, affirming, and supportive. I believe that part of lifting ourselves up is in lifting up others, supporting others, encouraging others, and assuring them that they are not alone in the world in whatever struggle they might be facing.
I believe that a healthy self-image is necessary for proper self-care, not the other way around.
And I’m very grateful that I have a healthy self-image, despite these ridiculous questions and comments. If you’ve been asked if you’re pregnant when you are clearly not pregnant, you are not alone. It’s not what you’re wearing; it’s the jerk asking the question. You are beautiful.
If you are plagued with body image issues that are confirmed by ignorant commentary from those around you, you are not alone.
If you fall victim to the entrapping images of airbrushed women in magazines and feel that your body isn’t good enough, you are simply mistaken.
You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are sexy.
I’m selfishly writing this post to vent my feelings of frustration that I’m awake at 11:50pm on a work night thinking about this, but my hope is that I’m also affirming you on your own journey to self-acceptance. I’m confident in my own resilience; I want you to be confident in yours. I will not be knocked down by this, and nor should you be.
I read a post recently by a 19 year-old woman “liking this picture of [her] cellulite,” and I think we need more messages like the one she’s sharing. I am not defined by my imperfections, and neither are you. We need not only to accept our own imperfections as part of what makes us us, but we also need to lift up those around us.
And if I haven’t made it clear yet, NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant. If she wants to tell you that she’s expecting, she will. Mind your own business and let her enjoy the rest of her day.