Perhaps writing this particular post for a primary readership of women is a bit of preaching to the choir, but I am guessing many of us have shared experiences when it comes to unwanted (and unwarranted) comments about our physical appearance, so I am going for it. While objectification is a very real issue, certainly for females, my actual focus here is the bizarre desire of the general public to comment on the appearance of pregnant women.
Mamas and mamas-to-be, do you know what I’m talking about? I am guessing you do. And I am also guessing you know these comments do not just come from men.
Throughout my own pregnancies, I’ve heard everything from, “You’re sure it’s not twins?” to super flattering adjectives like “gi-mundo” in reference to my growing belly. For the record, I have gained the low-end range of recommended weight with each of my babies, but even if I had gained double what my doc says, what gives people permission to throw their filters and manners out the window when they see my baby bump or any other?
I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to most of these people; many of them are just curious or drawn to a pregnant woman’s appearance because pregnancy is a mystical, magical journey. Most intend zero-harm when they utter these statements (or stare blatantly at the belly with bugged-out eyes); but can we please work together to surround mamas-to-be with nothing but love instead of comments that may incite doubt, fear, or shame?
Disclaimer: as a woman with years of carrying around body-image issues, I may be a bit sensitive in regards to this subject matter, but honestly, what woman (especially one undergoing the most natural physical development possible) wants to hear comments that could be perceived as criticism about her body? It is not acceptable.
If you tell an expectant mom she looks huge, that’s doing nothing for her confidence or comfort with her ever-changing body, which is already hard enough to handle; if you tell her she looks so tiny, she may wonder if something is wrong with her or Baby. And if you feel the need to guess her due date or ask if she is due soon and she still has months to go, well, heaven help you, because then you’re just asking for whatever snark (or left hooks) she throws your way.
Jokes aside, there is no need to comment on how any pregnant woman looks beyond telling her that she is beautiful. Because she is. Her body is working every single minute of those 40-ish weeks to grow a new person and when you fill that mama with words of love and positive attention, she can in turn do the same for her developing child, instead of worrying about how big her belly looks or wasting energy trying to fend off comments and questions that can range from rude to downright hurtful. We do not know each others’ backgrounds or histories with fertility, body image, or health, so let us not just assume that because her belly is on display, she can handle whatever words you want to throw her way.
Instead, let us be guardians of our mamas and their growing bellies. Let us tell them how happy, strong, or gorgeous they are, so they can take our love and shine it from their hearts into those of their growing families. That sounds way more beneficial, to me, than trying to compare her belly size to the local produce stand.
And mamas-to-be? I promise, I am working hard to craft some responses we can give to those who (inadvertently) insult us that involve neither sarcasm nor punching; since that is slow-going, let me leave you with this: you are SO beautiful!