I’ve gotten lots of comments like that over the course of my pregnancy.
Why do they bother me so? I know people mean them as a compliment, as reassurance even, knowing that pregnant women may start to feel insecure about how their body looks/is changing.
“You’re all belly!” “Oh good, it looks like you will bounce back right away!” “You’re lucky, you’re having a ‘basketball’ pregnancy!” “It’s so nice your face didn’t get fat!” “Your body looks the same except for your belly! Congrats!” And then the doctor: “Congratulations on no stretch marks so far. Impressive.”
These comments have been bothering me for months, whether from men or women, but why? Would I prefer people saying: “Wow, you really blimped up.” Or saying nothing, leaving me to potentially wonder if I look really different?
I don’t at all think anyone has any ill intention behind these comments, don’t get me wrong, but I guess I view them (subconsciously) sexist.
It’s sort of like, Heaven forbid the pregnancy alter, or “ruin,” my appearance — because as a woman, wouldn’t that be devastating? What would I have, if I didn’t have that?
A law degree, my character and personality, my two babies, etc. — yeah, okay, but those things are just add-ons. What really matters as a woman is how you look, everyone knows that–and you didn’t get fat! What an accomplishment! No stretch marks? You can still wear a bikini! (Otherwise, forget it, no one wants to see that.)
And what of the women who do get “fat”? What comments or private judgments do they have to deal with? The thought of it is slightly infuriating to me.
I guess in the end I’d prefer: “You look beautiful” or “radiant” or “great.” Then stop talking. Is there really a need to say anything else?
Luckily Jimmy gets it right–that’s all he ever says. He doesn’t applaud my lack of weight gain in my extremities, he never mentions my weight at all–except to make sure I’m on target for having healthy babies and a healthy labor.
To be fair, I’ve always tended to my appearance. I’ve always cared about it. When I was in my early 20s (and married at the time to a man who was dying to be a father), part of why having children scared me so much was the fear that my body would get “ruined.” And as much as I dislike my appearance being assessed in general (by both men and women), and as much as it makes me mad that all women are burdened with that bullshit, I’ve sought to capitalize on it, too. So if I’m being honest, I’ve got a rather ingrained superficial side.
I guess now that I’m older — and seeing things from another angle — I wish pregnancy at least could be off-limits from all that. I don’t want to be compared to how other pregnant women look; it makes me sad. We all get to be beautiful, and perfect, and applauded for our pregnant state, because we’re all doing something miraculous. Don’t cheapen it with your judgments and comments and assessments of the pregnant body.
And it isn’t really much of an accomplishment, not gaining weight all over my body. I couldn’t tell you why that happened; probably just genetics (same with the stretch marks). Sure I didn’t go crazy eating 10 Big Macs a day, but, I stopped working out months ago. I’ve also been eating my share of Chick Fil A sandwiches and Oreos and cake and mac n cheese and Italian food. Regardless of weight distribution during the pregnancy, I will have a fair amount of work to do to get back to a good state of health after delivery.
Anyway, just a random rant, brought to you by: swollen feet. They make me irritable.