People constantly objectify women in our culture. I honestly can't remember a time when people didn't comment about my body. When I got pregnant, however, I honestly thought those comments would subside. I mean, I was about to become someone's mother, and surely that meant something, right? Yeah, no. It just got worse. It was as if I was just a round container for growing babies and no longer a person worthy of respect or privacy. I couldn't believe the things people would actually say to me about my pregnant belly. It made me want to sink into the floor and disappear, or just hide in my home until I pushed that baby out and went back to being "normal."
I have always felt self-conscious about my belly. As a young girl I remember hating my tiny tummy and thinking it was too fat. As a teen I spent hours in a bikini, trying futilely to tan my pale skin and ending up frustrated that I only ever managed to burn and freckle. In my 20s I battled an eating disorder, not realizing how unhealthy I was even though my stomach was flat and hollow. Then I got pregnant and suddenly my stomach was huge and impossible to ignore.
Coping with pregnancy and my changing body was hard enough, so the last thing I needed was people commenting about my belly. Regardless, though, my growing stomach seemed to be the only thing anyone could talk about. First it was too small, then it was too big, then it was high which definitely meant I was carrying a girl. Oh, but wait, it was wide, which definitely meant I was having a boy. Then again, maybe I was carrying twins because it was so freaking huge. I felt like everyone was looking at me and had an opinion about my body, my pregnancy, or when I was going to pop as a result of what they saw. It made me feel so self-conscious and, in the end, I started to hate my huge bely even though it was literally growing and housing another human being inside of me.
Women are people, not bodies, and certainly not just bellies. Being pregnant doesn't change that fact, so ask yourself if you'd stare at a man's growing belly, ask him questions about it, or even ask to touch it. Of course you wouldn't. So why do we do these things to pregnant people every day? The answer, of course, is sexism. There are things you don't get to say to me about my belly, even and especially when I'm pregnant. So, you know, stop. I've had enough.
"Are You Pregnant?"
The only time it's acceptable to ask a person if they are pregnant is when they are literally giving birth in front of you, and at that point I'd say it's not really worth mentioning.
"It's Too Small"
Commenting about my belly is not OK, period. Making a value judgement or telling me that it's too small, too big, or too anything is definitely not OK. Comments like these can make an already nervous pregnant person worry even more about whether or not their baby is OK. Also, what if there is something wrong with their pregnancy, or they are sick or having trouble keeping food down and gaining weight?
Bottom line: unless you are someone's doctor, you really have no business making comments about what size their pregnant belly should be.
"You Must Be Having A Girl/Boy"
You do not have magical gender/sex determining vision. You don't. The size and shape of my bump says nothing about the chromosomal make-up, reproductive anatomy, or eventual gender identity of my fetus. Plus, gender is a social construct, so my fetus doesn't have a gender yet.
"You Are All Belly"
Sometimes it seems like people use other people's pregnancies as an excuse to be inappropriately catty and rude. I am a badass, baby-growing human being, not just a belly. My pregnancy doesn't excuse your lack of boundaries or give you an excuse to talk about my body.
"There Has To Be More Than One Baby In There"
No, I am not having twins. Yes, I am sure. Why do people think this is a funny thing to joke about? Can you imagine not knowing you were going to have twins until late in your pregnancy? It would likely be shocking, overwhelming, and possibly exciting, but certainly not something to joke about. So, why on earth do people say this to almost every pregnant person they encounter?
"Are You Sure About Your Due Date?"
"Yes, random stranger, I know when I conceived this baby. Would you like to hear about it? No? Then, please stop asking about my pregnancy."
"You Look Ready To Pop"
That's not the way it works. Oh, and if you have forgotten (and clearly you have) that's my body you are talking about. My glorious, baby-growing body, not a freaking water balloon. Show some respect.
"Any Day Now"
Any mention of when I might deliver is just unkind. First off, if I am visibly pregnant I am probably seriously and ridiculously tired of being pregnant and don't need a reminder. Also, there's literally no way to determine someone's due date by looking at them. (Unless you can see their baby coming out of their vagina, in which case by all means: take a solid guess as to when the baby will be born.) All bodies are different and react/carry a pregnancy different. You literally don't know, so please, stop talking.
"Can I Have A Feel?"
While asking first is a slight improvement above touching me without asking, I would still rather not be put in the position to feel socially obligated to oblige and let some stranger touch me. No one wants to be put in a situation in which they say "no" and are subsequently treated like there's something wrong with them and not the random person who wants to touch someone they don't know.
If we want to achieve gender equality we have to start treating pregnant women like pregnant people and not pregnant bodies. Pregnancy is amazing, exciting, and for many of us something we love to talk about, but it's totally inappropriate to reduce a person to their appearance. I don't exist for your viewing pleasure or your approval, and I don't want to hear your thoughts about my body no matter how "huge" my pregnant belly is or how funny or clever you think you are.