Pregnancy can be a really hard time for a woman's body image, no matter how great she feels about herself beforehand. It doesn't help that the ways pregnant women are body shamed never seem to end, from the beginning of the pregnancy to the end. As if expecting moms don't already have enough to deal with.
Both times that I was pregnant, I was working in retail, where boundaries get overstepped by customers on the regular. So many people felt it was their place to give me unsolicited advice about my pregnancies, and unsolicited opinions about my growing belly. I am not someone who holds her tongue by nature, so having to swallow my responses to those customers, and smile and nod as they insulted me left me ready to punch a wall of diapers.
It's bizarre, really. There is something about a pregnant woman that appears to emit a subtle signal to people everywhere, giving them the erroneous impresson that they're allowed to say (and often do) things that would be otherwise socially unacceptable.
Here's an important thing to note, though, if you're thinking about commenting on an expecting mom's appearance: However it is that you think a woman should look at whatever stage of her pregnancy, it is ultimately going to be inaccurate. Why? Because every woman's body is different, and responds differently to that growing baby inside of them. So take a step back, keep that comment safely inside your head, and appreciate that this expecting mom is growing a new life in the way that is best for her body.
For those of us who have been there, well, all of this is likely to feel very familiar:
"Are You Sure There Aren't Twins In There?"
Yup, I'm pretty sure, but thanks for checking! Seriously, people don't really have a firm grasp on what women look like in various stages of pregnancy. That's probably because every woman carries differently anyway.
"Wow, You're HUGE!"
This is never OK to say. To anyone. I don't understand why people think it's acceptable just because you happen to be growing a new life inside you.
"You Look So Tiny! My Bump Was Much Bigger At That Stage."
Uhhh, thanks? If you were trying to make me concerned about whether my baby is growing properly, mission accomplished. I have seen women who do appear to have smaller bellies than I'd expect, but everything is normal for them. People just need to get it through their heads that women look different and carry differently.
"Careful You Don't Indulge In Too Many Cravings!"
Would you say this to someone who wasn't pregnant? Please don't police other people's eating habits. That's just a good rule that never needs to be broken.
"You're Only [Insert Any Number] Months Pregnant?"
Again, we're looking at how there's a certain expectation of what women should look like at different stages of their pregnancy. Pretty much every mom I know had to field this question at some point during their pregnancy, so perhaps the problem is that people really don't know what pregnancy is "supposed to" look like, at any stage.
"Shouldn't You Be Showing By Now?"
Do we need to go through this again?
"Should You Be Drinking That?"
When you're pregnant, you'll be shamed for anything you put into your body, and you'll be shamed for thinking you can't put certain things into your body: It's OK to drink coffee when you're pregnant; It's really not OK to drink coffee when you're pregnant. Don't have a single drop of alcohol; An occasional glass of wine is totally acceptable. Oh, did you know that soda you're drinking is filled with empty calories that will drive you to the brink of gestational diabetes? There's no winning.
"I Bet You Can't Wait To Have Your Body Back."
Omigod, YES! The little leech growing inside of me is ruining everything. </end sarcasm>
"I Bet Your Partner Can't Wait For You To Have Your Body Back!"
DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT. #facepalm. My body is not my partner's. It is mine, during pregnancy, not during pregnancy, and during any other point in my life when you might want to make unwelcome comments about it.
The good news: Just a few more months of pregnancy, and then you can go back to being shamed for...everything else about your body for the rest of your life! Woo! Being a woman is awesome.