From the ages of 27-35, I was asked if I was pregnant a total of five times.
Once by a nail technician.
Once by a parent at a parent/teacher conference.
Once by a homeless man.
Once by a student who went on Twitter and tweeted about it.
Once by a colleague.
Each time resulted in me going home and crying, feeling sorry for myself, restricting food, and throwing out whatever I was wearing because I must have looked “pregnant” in that outfit.
But why did that question hurt so much?
At various ages, the question meant something entirely different. At 27, I was worried I was just overweight (even though I was basically starving myself). I remember calling my boyfriend at the time in tears yelling over the phone “do you think I look pregnant?” He called me “crazy” and told me to stop talking about it.
Between the ages of 32-35, when I was asked again, I was at a totally different spot. I had split from my husband and thought I would NEVER get to be a Mom because my marriage had failed and I wasn’t able to meet anyone. I went home every time crying that I looked obese and that my dreams of being a Mom would never come true.
So at the age of 38, when I actually was pregnant and my bump started to appear, I was ready for the questions.
Guess how many people have asked if I was pregnant?
In fact, every time I tell someone I am pregnant (dentist, massage therapist, a person I haven’t seen in a long time), they always look shocked when I state that I am pregnant.
But I have a bump, or do I?
The thing I can’t get over is that even as a pregnant woman, people are constantly fixated on your weight.
To be honest, I have never felt more beautiful in my life. Why? Because when I look in the mirror I see a future Mama, not someone who is so angry with herself for being overweight.
When you go through the process to become a future single mama by choice, you have to see a social worker and mine went through everything. What were my past relationships like? Was I ever abused? What was my relationship like with food?
When I started talking about my issues with food (restricting and bingeing), my social worker warned me. She explained that for many women, food issues come back again. Some even develop eating disorders.
At first, I didn’t understand why this would be such a problem but in being pregnant, I now understand why pregnancy might be a trigger to issues involving food.
Before becoming pregnant, I would tell a new Mom that she looked “great” and I even once said “you don’t even look pregnant. You are rocking pregnancy.” I thought both of those comments were really positive. Now, I know that this is not true.
Since becoming pregnant, people are constantly commenting on my weight.
“You look like you have lost weight in your pregnancy” has been a common phrase that people have said to me while pregnant.
At first, I took it as a HUGE compliment. Hell, not a lot of people have said that comment to me in years. I look like I have lost weight?
Then I started worrying about it once I heard it over five times.
What if I wasn’t gaining enough weight in my pregnancy?
This was my fault because my morning sickness and nausea were so bad.
What if I wasn’t even getting the right nutrients to my baby?
I had all of these worries solely because of comments people had made to me about my weight.
Despite people being concerned about me losing weight, I was also getting remarks about how much weight I have gained while pregnant.
“You look huge.”
“Your bump is enormous.”
“Are you sure you are just six months pregnant?”
What in the hell? Sometimes on the very same day, people would comment about how much weight I had gained in pregnancy and/or how much weight I lost in pregnancy.
But it can’t be both, right?
In pregnancy, you really need to have a strong sense of self because people make comments on your weight constantly.
The thing is – it isn’t just me. I have watched my friends go through the struggle of people commenting on their weight while pregnant.
In one case, one of my friends could not do her regular errands in her small community without at least three comments a day on how “huge” she was.
I had another friend who was pregnant and didn’t gain much weight. People often said that she “didn’t look pregnant” and her baby actually ended up in the NICU. He is now a super healthy baby but she was eating in a healthy manner and there was no real reason as to why she wasn’t gaining weight.
My third example is one that I have regarding a friend going through fertility treatments right now. She wants to be a Mom and it doesn’t help that people keep making comments asking if she is pregnant. She explained to me that people know she was trying to conceive and that she was wearing flowy tops at the time.
“I don’t care” I said. “It is still not right.”
The issue is that it doesn’t even stop after pregnancy. In fact, it just gets worse. Women are pressured to lose the baby weight and to get back to their pre-pregnancy size.
I remember my friend coming back to work after her maternity leave. She looked incredible to others (and myself). She had lost the baby weight and had lost about twenty pounds less than she weighed pre-baby.
On her first day back at work, everyone made comments to her about how great she looked.
Later that day she confessed to me that these comments weren’t helping her in any way. At the time, I thought that these comments were amazing. Who doesn’t want to come back to work looking hotter than ever?
It was only then that she discussed the fact that stress was causing her to lose a lot of weight and that she wasn’t healthy at all. She was having a hard time even eating because she was so stressed out.
So here’s the problem – people always comment on women’s bodies – at any stage in life (even during pregnancy and after giving birth).
At a time when you are trying your best to be healthy, people are asking if you are pregnant.
At a time when you are trying to be healthy for you and your baby, people are commenting on whether your bump is too big or too small.
After giving birth and trying to become a healthy Mom, people are making comments on “losing the pregnancy weight.” It is crazy.
So what have I learned about all of this?
I have learned that I am totally part of the problem and I need to watch my language.
I have promised to do this and hope you will do the same.
- Never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Please just wait until she tells you. She may never want kids. She may be having fertility issues. She may have no issues at all. Just leave her alone.
- If you see a pregnant woman and want to comment on her weight, take a breath. Instead, opt for the “you look great” or “you look healthy.”
- When a woman has lost weight after giving birth, don’t necessarily think that you are giving her a compliment by suggesting that she has lost weight. Sometimes losing weight is not a good thing. Sometimes it means that she is having issues with mental health or her physical health.
- Weight should not be discussed. It doesn’t need to be discussed. Because when it is, it seems like one weight is more desirable than the other. Weight does not always indicate whether a person is unhealthy or healthy.
- A huge bump does not mean that the baby is healthy or that the Mom has put on a lot of weight.
- A small bump does not mean that the baby is unhealthy or that the Mom has not gained enough weight.
- The only one who should really worry about your weight is your doctor. Even then, that could be up for debate. I remember first being seen at the fertility clinic and having them do my BMI (body mass index). Many have criticized the BMI scale for being inaccurate.
Am I perfect? Have I asked a woman if she is pregnant before? Once and I am ashamed of myself and have learned to do better.
Have I commented on a woman’s weight during or after pregnancy? Hell yes but I honestly thought at the time that it was a compliment. Now I know better.
Please learn from my mistakes and learn from these personal stories that I have shared with you. The only time weight should be discussed is in a doctor’s office. The rest of the time, it should be off-limits.
Wishing everyone beautiful days ahead where no one says one word about your weight and you continue to feel amazing.
A special thank you to my friends who are so open and honest with me. I hope you don’t mind that I have written about you here. Please know that I have learned so much from you so I wanted to include you in this post.