People constantly objectify women in our culture. I can't remember a time when people didn't comment about my body to my face. This constant harassment means that women and girls receive the message that they aren't valued outside the way they look. This impacts everything from our self-esteem, body image, and emotional wellbeing to our health, safety, and career opportunities. When you get pregnant, it gets worse. You are reduced to a "pregnant body" available for viewing, comments, and subject to disapproval. Saying a woman is "all belly" is not just totally insensitive, it's offensive. Don't do it. Stop.
For me, pregnancy was so surreal. I literally was growing another human in my body. How badass is that? However, I didn't always feel good. Sometimes I threw up 10 times a day, my body hurt, and as an eating disorder survivor, coping with my changing body was hard. The last thing I needed was someone commenting about my body, which at least one person did every damn day. I wish I were exaggerating. The most common comment was how large my belly was. You see, I'm very short. There's literally no place for my baby to grow but out. (and occasionally into my rib cage, diaphragm, and bladder).
People said things like:
"You are all belly."
"You must have more than one baby in there."
"You look ready to pop."
"Are you sure you are right about your due date?"
"Wow, your baby must be huge, how will you push him out?"
I also didn't gain a lot of weight during my last pregnancy, because I had hyperemesis gravidarium (extreme vomiting), right up until delivery. My belly got huge, but you could literally count my ribs. So, I heard even more comments. Not only did these comments and questions make me feel self- conscious, scrutinized, judged, scared, embarrassed, and generally bad about my amazing body, but they are totally sexist. Would you ever say these things to a man? I don't think so.
I try to teach my kids to ask themselves, "Is it kind, true, and necessary?" before saying words out loud. Imagine if everyone did this. Let's try it and see if it catches on.
That's Her Body You're Talking About
Women don't exist for your viewing pleasure or your approval, and I, for one, don't want to hear your thoughts about my body, no matter how big my pregnant belly is or how funny you think you are. I'm not laughing.
Their Weight Might Be A Sensitive Subject
While a pregnant person might smile or chuckle, as they try to find a way to respond to your inappropriate comments, they might be mortified on the inside, or might go home and cry and try to resolve all of the feelings you have about pregnancy, when you also have body image issues.
She Might Be Sick
There's nothing like hearing how "fat" you are getting when you literally haven't kept food down in days. Made me want to vomit on people.
It Reduces A Person To A Body Part
Women are people, not bodies, and certainly not just a body part. Being pregnant doesn't change that.
What If They Aren't Pregnant?
It's only ever appropriate to comment about a person's pregnancy if they've told you they are pregnant. What if they aren't pregnant? Seriously.
It's Never OK To Comment About Someone's Body
Even if they are pregnant, though, it's not OK to comment about someone's body. It's none of your freaking business and certainly not kind.
It's Literally Not True
I am not all belly. I also have a fabulous butt and breasts that have gotten bigger with pregnancy, too. Also, my swollen ankles, the dark circles under my eyes, and literally 100 other things about my body. If you think my belly is the only thing that's changed with pregnancy, you're not paying attention.
Try it next time you see a guy with a beer belly. See how it feels to even think about saying something (weird, right?), or try it and see how he responds. I guarantee he'll at minimum give you a dirty look, because it's not freaking OK to say this to another person. Women are people, too, even pregnant women. If you wouldn't say it to a man, why is it OK to say it to a pregnant person?
Stop looking at my body. Stop. It's creepy and gross. Even if you are right, and my belly is freaking huge, saying something about it is super inappropriate.
If we want to achieve gender equality, we have to start treating people of all genders as equals. This means treating people like people and not pregnancies. I get it, pregnancy is amazing, exciting, and for many of us, a shared experience that we love to talk about, but it's totally inappropriate to reduce a person to their appearance and to use that as a way to break the ice. Instead, try, "How are you?" or "How are you feeling?"
Remember: "Is it kind, true, and necessary?" If not, please stop.