Once you get to a certain point in your pregnancy, your belly announces your presence and you're open for commentary. Many people are sensitive to the fact that pregnant women carry (aside from the babies inside of them) many insecurities, and attempt to pay pregnant compliments in order to make them feel better. (And of course, there are times people say things to pregnant women they think they're supposed to say to them.) However, even when people mean well, there are plenty of compliments people say to pregnant women that aren't compliments.
I know how hard it is to just not say anything at all to a pregnant woman about her body. (Which is why, honestly, the default "don't say anything at all" approach is pretty solid.) I know this because I am not pregnant, but I've been pregnant, and I currently have pregnant friends whom I find myself saying some crazy things to. Why can't I help myself? I honestly don't know. Does the sight of a pregnant woman make people lose their sense of social decency? Do we just start vomiting words? Maybe.
When I was pregnant and people thought that they were paying me a compliment about my curves, or my glow, or the size and shape of my bump, it made me feel like I was slowly going insane. I wanted everyone to stop talking about how I looked and simply tell me how sorry they felt for me about how often I was vomiting. That is all. So, with that in mind (and because who doesn't love a good public service announcement, right?) here's some of the crap pregnant women put up with listening to, that comes in the disguise of compliments:
"You're So Small, Are You Sure Your Due Date's Right?"
Way to freak a preggo out, whoever you are. Even though I trust that my doctor, and my ultrasound technician, do not lie, the crazy and hormonal part of me suddenly is going to trust my coffee barista in her calculations about my due date based on her assessment of my belly size. Because of course I am.
In her defense, Coffee Barista Chick thinks she is paying me a compliment because telling a pregnant woman she is small has to be a nice thing to say. Small, in our society, equals "super cute and pretty." However, to a pregnant woman, small can come with all kinds of scary connotations, such as: Your Pregnancy Is Not Going Well So You Should Start Screaming Right Now.
"It's So Cool That You Can Still Move Around And Have Fun"
The person saying this to a pregnant woman is most likely trying to give props to the preggo, but the compliment does carry a bit of a sting. The implication here is that you're so freaking enormous it's nothing short of a circus feat that you're still able to walk from point A to point B, or more shockingly, move for fun.
When I was super duper pregnant with my first, I was invited to no less than three weddings in my third trimester. Two of the weddings occurred in the two consecutive weekends before my due date, and I danced my ass off at both. Most of my fellow revelers were completely supportive and cool about my "Oompa Loompa dance moves," joining in with me to to do some good old fashioned belly bumping. However, some just couldn't help but tap me on the shoulder on the dance floor to express their surprise that me and my wide load were able and willing to shake their groove thang.
"I Can't Believe You're Still Working Out!"
Again, some people are still really attached to the myth that a pregnant woman would be best off hold up in her bed chambers propped up on some pillows and drinking herbal teas like in olden times. I personally didn't consider my prenatal yoga classes a "workout," since the class mainly consisted of brief moments of stretching followed by extended periods of rest, but I still got major high fives from people for even putting on my damn yoga pants.
You guys, I'm pregnant, not at death's door.
"Your Face Hasn't Changed At All"
Should my face have changed? And if it hasn't changed, does that indicate something has gone terribly, terribly wrong? Comments like this would often make me doubt my own understanding of medicine, everything I'd read about pregnancy, and discussions I had had with my own doctor. Did I miss the part about how one's face changing meant that a pregnancy was really and truly viable?
"I Like You Even Better With Curves"
On the one hand, this kind of observation sometimes made me feel a little better about the extra pounds I had put on since getting pregnant. On the other, I couldn't tell for sure that the person making this statement truly meant it, or was trying to make me feel better because they imagined I was insecure about my weight.
Most importantly (ahem!), I don't recall asking anyone, "Do you like these curves?" or asking any particular question about my weight in general. Nope. Didn't ask. Didn't want to know your opinion on the subject. Also, unless you're my husband, I don't really care to know if my body contours please you.
"Too Bad You Don't Get To Keep Those Boobs, Huh?"
But don't I? Do my boobs just disappear and fly away after my pregnancy? No. They stay right here, attached to my chest cavity. They may change shape but, as far as I know, they get to still belong to me after the baby comes.
Some people say stuff like this because they are trying to fill awkward conversation space. Other times, they are staring at your boobs and feel really weird about it because you just caught them doing that and now they have to say something to shift gears. You guys. Just. No.
"You Look So Cute For Someone In Maternity Clothes"
I don't know why it is so hard for people to just give a compliment without a qualifier. We all know maternity clothes would not be a woman's first choice were she out shopping for something hot to wear to the club. But this is where she is at right now, and if a roomy top is her reality then just tell her she looks cute (if you mean it) and leave out the part, "for maternity wear."
"You Only Look Huge Because Normally You're So Tiny"
Ah, remembrances of things past. Do we really need a reminder of how we used to look before we were pregnant? I certainly didn't. Having been the one to have lived inside my own body for thirty years prior to conceiving, I knew very well that I was a smallish person, and that being pregnant was the first time I felt what it was like to to have to navigate the world as a larger person. Comments like this are nothing comments. They are like stating that the sky is blue. Yes, I was tiny before. Yes, I am huge now. Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. And once again, I did not ask you to tell me how big or small I currently am so please, please, stop saying anything about it! Ixnay on the size talk nay!