Like most of the female population, I have body insecurities. I can’t remember when they started, probably somewhere around puberty when my legs grew to insane lengths causing me to hold the title for tallest in the class for a few years. I was insecure about my height until my twenties when I realized that being tall is something a lot of people covet.
Entering high school was the first time I dealt with weight head on. Before that, I wasn’t skinny or fat, but I was never aware that weight was a thing I should be concerned about. In grade 9, I was forced to take physical education so I was exercising daily (having never consistently exercised daily before). I ate the same way, but with all that new found activity, I dropped ten pounds by the end of the semester without even trying. The funny thing was, I didn’t even notice until guys started saying how good I looked. It’s amazing to look back and see how my self-worth became shaped by these comments and how before the attention I was virtually clueless that I was even losing weight, needed to, or that it was a “good thing.”
When I noticed that with being skinny came added attention, I decided to continue working out in my free time PLUS add in “healthy” eating. I use the term “healthy” loosely because to me at age fifteen, healthy eating was having diet pop and other food with “diet” in front of them as meals. Over the years in high school and university, I battled with calorie restricting, binging, fasting, and every yo-yo diet in the books.
I would say it was only when I was getting in shape for my wedding and working with a personal trainer, truly eating right and making my body strong, that I started to have a positive relationship with my body and food in general.
Funny enough, there was always one narrative that repeated in my mind over all those years: pregnant woman are beautiful and I can’t wait to be one. I couldn’t wait for the day to be pregnant…for the wrong reasons. I thought that being pregnant meant I didn’t have to worry about sucking in my stomach in 24/7, that I would be glowing and that I would instantly feel beautiful in my new skin.
Fast forward to present day, as I type this at 26 weeks pregnant. I can’t say that I do feel 100% beautiful. In the beginning of my pregnancy, which I deem “the awkward phase”, I spent the first 12 weeks trying to hide the fact that I was pregnant while dealing with feeling like crap and being extremely bloated. Once I was able to tell people my news, I still felt awkward because my belly was barely there and what was there looked like I was just chubby. I wanted to get a shirt made that said “Not fat, just pregnant” so that people would know that I wasn’t packing on the pounds, but rather growing a tiny human.
Enter the second trimester, my stomach became round and I started to enjoy it. I started wearing fitted clothes, something I never did pre-pregnancy, and feeling good about my bump…until the comments started.
The first one was at work. I was sitting at my cubicle minding my own business, when a girl I never talk to came up to me and said that she had heard I was pregnant. This girl is around the same age as me, overweight and has no kids of her own. She proceeded to ask me if “something was wrong with me” because her friend was also pregnant and her friend’s bump was significantly smaller than mine even though said friend was more advanced in her pregnancy than me. She said I should ask my doctor to make sure my stomach was “normal” (the actual word she used) and to make sure it wasn’t twins.
In that moment, I was so flabbergasted I just said thank you and smiled until she left. Once she left my desk and I played the conversation over, I became enraged. Did being pregnant give the world a free pass to judge my body and mask this judgment by appearing concerned for my health and wellbeing? How would it have gone over if I asked her if her stomach was “normal” considering she is overweight? It probably wouldn’t have gone over well and would not have been socially acceptable, yet somehow commenting on a woman’s pregnant body is.
I’d love to say this was the only comment I have gotten, but it isn’t. The “are you sure it isn’t twins?” question is one that I get at least weekly. I have a few other friends that are pregnant and they get the same question to. Along with this, I’ve also been asked “how I will ever make it to my due date” and that “my baby is going to be very big.” I’ve realized that there is some sort of phenomenon that happens when a person is around a pregnant woman…they instantly become a medical professional. I even had someone go so far as to tell me that I was having a boy because of the way my stomach looked, despite having two ultrasounds by medical professionals that both showed I was having a girl.
So what is the takeaway message from this post? Pregnancy has made me susceptible to ranting, but that is not what I came here to do. I wanted to share my experience because I know I am not the only one that has dealt with this or that is dealing with this. Even though I’m pregnant, this is still my body and I live in it every day. A woman’s body changes so much when she is pregnant and I find it completely insensitive for others to be commenting negatively on it when a woman is trying to navigate, come to terms and dress her new shape. A good test is to ask yourself if you’d say the same thing to a non-pregnant woman, if you wouldn’t then don’t bother saying it to us preggos. I think the saddest part of all is that this post even need to be written. I thought the true pressure would come once the baby is born and I need to “shed the baby weight,” but it seems even the pregnant body isn’t free from negative body image rhetoric.
What was the most insensitive comment you received while pregnant?