Any woman who's ever been pregnant knows all too well that once you start to show signs of a growing bump, something magic happens. Pregnant women's bodies stop being their own and instead shift to being what most people assume is public property, available for any sort of comment and scrutiny, without the slightest regard they're talking to an actual person. Kayleigh Kelly Obert, a body builder who happens to also be nine months pregnant, was fat shamed, proving how harmful body expectations and size-shaming language are, even for a woman whose profession is taking care of her fitness.
It all came to a head about three weeks ago when Olbert was called fat shamed by body shamers. She said that she has been size shamed before, but she explained that recent criticisms calling her weight gain a negative thing brought her to tears, according to Us magazine. She said it takes a lot to make her cry, but the constant barrage of body hate she said she's been experiencing throughout her pregnancy just became too much.
But as a fellow mom, I have some bad news for Olbert. Mom shaming, including mom body shaming, doesn't stop after the baby is born. Once the baby is born and a mom has an actual human she and her partner are in charge of raising, the general public really starts to take a keen interest in all of the mistakes they think parents are making making. The pressure on American mothers is enormous. And it's got to stop.
Here's what Olbert wrote on Instagram about her experience, according to Us:
Long Post: since the beginning of my pregnancy I've struggled with what others think is ok to say to me. It started with •Your body will never be the same •You need to eat more your baby is going to malnourished •Your pregnant just eat whatever you want •Wow you've really grown •How's my fat friend •Wow you're really big you won't make it to your due date •Should you be lifting still •Good luck getting back to pre-pregnancy - And finally last night the worst yet •You're chubby, I've never seen you chubby, it's funny! That was the last of what I could handle on the way home with my husband I started crying (which is SUPER rare for me). Since when did it become ok to say things like this to people, pregnant or not. I have never done this to anyone. And most of these are from men. Just wanted to share & remind people that even if something seems funny or a joke to you doesn't mean it's ok to say especially to a pregnant woman. #bekind
So let's just go over this one more time for the people in the back who haven't been paying attention, m'kay?
Women, regardless of whether they're growing a human or not, are people. They have feelings and insecurities and their bodies are their own. No pregnant woman wants you to touch her belly, lecture her on nutrition, tell her she's getting bigger (that's sort of a given when you have an extra human on board), or any other nonsense any member of the general public might feel compelled to project onto them. Moms are sorry some people have some expectation about the way motherhood, and mothers, should look, but that has nothing — nada, zilch — to do with their own experience.
Some ladies gain tons of weight with a pregnancy, others not so much. Some moms carry the baby all out there. Others don't. Some pregnant ladies keep working out throughout their pregnancy. Others are so sick they're just trying to hold onto the side of the toilet. Just like women in general, pregnant women are all different, look different, and have different pregnancies. But you want to know what every pregnant woman has in common? They have no interest in other people's opinions about their bodies. And, "chubby" isn't an insult and shouldn't be used as a joke.
Like Olbert, some pregnant women want to "get their body back," though clearly not all women want that (nor should they succumb to pressure that says they should). Here she is getting ready for a fitness competition before she got pregnant, looking how she likes looking and vowing in an Instagram post to get back to this kind of shape — which is something she wants, not something that should be expected of her.
For pregnant women who find themselves on the receiving end of endless unsolicited advice — and belly touching — Parents magazine talked to various psychologists about the best way to handle these situations, including body shaming, which suggests shutting the pregnancy body shaming down with a quick, "my doctor is monitoring my weight and happy with where I'm at so far."
Or you could just offer the middle finger salute.