Of all the things I worried about going into this pregnancy, body image wasn’t one of them.
At least, not initially.
For the most part, I’ve had a pretty positive relationship with my body, probably thanks in large part to being raised in a household where no one was on a “diet,” complaining about “how fat” they were, or worrying excessively about appearance.
For that I am truly grateful.
However, being pregnant has brought up some things I didn’t expect.
I mean, I know the realities of how pregnancy changes your body – both from the medical side as a prenatal dietitian and diabetes educator and also from the physical side as a Pilates instructor.
I’ve worked face-to-face with hundreds of pregnant women of all shapes and sizes and at all stages of pregnancy (and now “virtually” with even more, both in individual consulting and through my online program, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes Course).
To be honest, I rarely pay much attention to the outward appearance of my clients. Whether she weighs 100lbs or 300lbs, I do not treat her any differently. I’m more concerned with what’s going on inside her body and what choices she’s making in her daily life to be proactive about her health.
Believe it or not, I’ve always made a conscious effort not to bring up weight or physical appearance.
Because pregnancy is a very vulnerable time.
But it’s become glaringly (and annoyingly) obvious that not everyone shares this same sensitivity towards pregnant women.
People seem to have a need to comment on my appearance, especially as I get further along.
If I can equate it to anything, being pregnant is like going through puberty.
You’re anticipating all these changes that are going to happen to your body – some will be welcomed, others… well… not so much. You’re kind of self-conscious. Everyone else seems to know that, yet they want to voyeuristically keep tabs on you.
… and then comment on it.
But let me say this: If I wanted your opinion, I’d ask you.
Your assessment of my body is not helpful.
And most importantly…
My pregnant body is none of your business.
I assure you, as the person living in this body and adjusting to what feels like an ever-evolving science experiment, I am well aware of all the changes. And I’m probably self-conscious about some of them.
Before people started commenting about my appearance, I actually felt quite beautiful. Probably even more beautiful being pregnant. I felt good about my curves and embraced my belly. I enjoyed getting dressed in the morning.
But after a few too many of these…
“You’ve grown since the last time I saw you.”
“You definitely look pregnant.”
“Your belly is so big now!”
“Wow, you’ve really filled out.”
“You must be getting close.”
I’m not feelin’ so hot.
Thanks for that.
If you’ve never been pregnant or it’s been a few decades, those might sound benign. But to me (or any other pregnant woman), they all loosely translate as follows:
“You are enormous.”
And, as one of my fellow pregnant biz friends shared,
“’You’re so big’ stopped being a compliment after age 6.”
Oddly enough, just as soon as I’ve fielded a “you’re huge” comment, I’ll get a
“you barely even look pregnant”
or “you haven’t changed since the last time I saw you”
And those don’t make me feel good either.
Maternity clothes are probably the least flattering, most poorly designed clothes on the market. And whether I’m sitting down, standing up, facing you, turned to the side, have just eaten a meal, engaging my abdominal muscles, or about 50,000 other factors, I may look “big” or “small” to you.
And why the hell does that even matter?
I’m growing a human being!!! Can we just all relish in that miracle and stop focusing on how I look?!
I think this series of pictures puts it all into perspective.
I’ll say it again: My pregnant body is none of your business.
I did not ask for your opinion and your opinion – no matter what it is – will likely not make me feel any better about myself.
So next time you’re talking to a pregnant woman, simply don’t say anything about her appearance.
And if you insist, say something like this:
“You are glowing.”
“Wow, you look fantastic.”
“Pregnancy looks good on you.”
[And ONLY do so if you know for a fact that she’s pregnant!!!]
***DO NOT comment on her size (whether you think she looks small or large), guess her due date (or how far along she is), or even tell her she “looks pregnant.”
Newsflash: she knows she’s pregnant, she knows her belly has grown, and she knows her due date.
So just carry on and leave her be.
I know I’m not the only mama-to-be that feels this way. If you’re sick and tired of people commenting on your pregnant body, let me hear it in the comments below.
- What was the most offensive comment you received?
- And on the flipside, what’s the kindest compliment you got while pregnant?
I might need to get a line of well-fitted maternity shirts made with the words: ‘My Pregnant Body is None of Your Business’ front and center. What do you think?!
Until next week,
PS – Is this tree straight out of Fern Gully or what?!