There is nothing quite like pregnancy and postpartum life to make random people think they have license to comment on other people's bodies. The things people need to stop saying about postpartum bodies, in particular, are probably too numerous to count and, sadly, I am no stranger to the majority of them. Thankfully, I've grown from the timid new mom who went home and cried after her belly was touched in the grocery store. The stranger asked sweetly when I was due, when I was six weeks postpartum. If someone had touched my belly after my third child I probably would've bitten their hand. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually bitten anyone. Recently.) It's not that you ever really get "used to" someone making random comments about your body, postpartum or otherwise, it's that you build a steel wall of resolve around your emotions and react accordingly.
It's not cool how people think women's bodies, in general, are public property up for scrutiny at all times. It's certainly no more cool to scrutinize and police postpartum bodies. This person just grew a human being inside of their body for nine months (give or take a few weeks), then pushed a newly created watermelon-sized human out of their body through a small canal (or were cut open and had a baby pulled out of a little slit in their freakin' stomach). Do you even appreciate how goddamn phenomenal that is? Why on earth aren't we spending our postpartum comments on praising the guts and glory necessary to get through childbirth?
I personally think we should stop talking about postpartum bodies altogether, unless it's to say, "Damn, I can not believe a human being is that powerful." However, as that probably won't be happening anytime soon, here are some specific suggestions about what to remove from your postpartum conversational repertoire:
"Have You Lost The Weight Yet?"
No. Just no. I can't say no enough to this question. Don't ever talk about anybody's weight, whether they're pregnant or not, postpartum or not. This cultural obsession with weight is literally killing our children via eating disorders and self-esteem issues.
Do not assume a person wants or needs to lose "the weight" after they have a baby. Certainly never assume it's within your rights to ask a grown-ass woman in polite company about the numbers on her scale.
"Your Body Will Never Be The Same"
There are certain people who are allowed to say this particular comment to me. That exhaustive list of people is as follows:
- My mom,
- Super close friend sharing her personal experience of her body never being the same.
If you don't find yourself on that list, sorry buddy.
"She Got Her Body Back"
Justin's sexy never went anywhere, and neither did my body.
"You'll Bounce Back In No Time"
We seriously need to stop judging people for how they recover from childbirth. What you or I or anyone choose to do, or are physically capable of doing after childbirth, is nobody's business. The only people that should be discussing how a woman's body recovers from labor and delivery is the postpartum woman and her medical providers.
"You Look Fantastic For Just Having A Baby!"
How about, "You look fantastic!" and just leaving at that? I mean, why the qualifier? Or, better yet, how about not commenting on how somebody looks at all? Why don't you try out something like, "It's so great to see you!" I guarantee that'll be much more well received.
"You Still Look Pregnant!"
Nobody wants to hear they still look pregnant after going through something as physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding as labor and delivery. Just nobody at all. You have a filter for a reason, my friends, so I suggest you try using it.
"Your Boobs Will Be Floppy"
Are you starting to see a pattern here? All these things said about postpartum bodies stem from the idea that women's bodies are only valuable if they are sexually desirable. Sexually desirable in a very specific, ableist, cis-heteronormative, thin, white way.
You are welcome to feel any way you choose about your breasts and/or breastfeeding. My boobs? They were made for nursing my babies. As a sexual assault survivor it was a powerful and transformative experience to be able to take that particular body part back from my primary abuser. It was unexpectedly healing in a way I never thought possible.
"The Mama-Pouch Never Goes Away"
Unless there is a medical reason to care about the so-called mama-pouch, just stop.
As my partner said, "Mama pouches are sexy and should be a source of pride instead of shame." He can be proud of mine, and I can be proud of mine, but everyone else? Yeah, you can just keep on doing you while simultaneously keeping your opinions about other people's postpartum bodies to yourself.