Recently, I asked my Active Pregnancy Facebook group about the comments they received about their bodies during their pregnancy. These are just a few of the responses:
“You look huge!”
“Should you be working out that hard?”
“You look so little.”
“You’re all belly.” (All 4 of these were to the same person)
“You are so TINY, is your baby okay? Are you sick? Do you even eat?”
“Oh man, constantly asked if it’s twins. I had a co-worker tell me that my doctors must’ve messed up my due date because there’s no way I’m this big and still have 8 weeks to go. It’s like I’m 5’1″, my belly can only go out lol!”
“I literally have about three males at work that greet me with ‘Hey Fatty’.”
“I can tell you’re carrying a boy b/c you look tired, instead of glowing.”
“I was also told after I disclosed to everybody at work that it was no secret, as some could tell I was pregnant because I had ‘Pregnancy lips’, whatever that means.”
“Girl, you need to get bigger clothes”
“‘You’re having a girl because your butt is wide.’ -Complete stranger at a Walmart”
“I keep being told I’m not nearly big enough to be full term. (Opposite of the comments in my last pregnancy) This baby has been measuring very small requiring a lot of extra monitoring. The small comments are not helpful.”
“YOUR BOOBIES HAVE GOTTEN SO BIG.”
“When I feel fine and someone is like ‘oh you look so tired’! Maybe it was me being sensitive but I sort of hear ‘you look like crap'”
“Wow! You really do like donuts!”
“One of my most recent when I wore this purple tank was “You look like a Grape!!””
“I never had someone say anything negative while pregnant, but after my first daughter was born I went to the store to go buy some clothes about 4 weeks after because I had nothing to wear and this random lady came up to me and asked if I had just had a baby, and I excitedly replied that yes I did and she was only 4 weeks old. The lady smirked and said “You need to be wearing a girdle” and then walked away. I was 19, new mom, on my own, and had gained 60lbs during my pregnancy. It took a long time to get over that.”
“That it’s becoming obvious I’m super pregnant from how wide my nose is getting.”
Permission to Comment on My Body?
Whew! I get ragey reading these, and this was just a small sampling. I know that society seems to believe that women’s bodies are here to please everyone else. But I’m not sure why the condition of pregnancy and post-pregnancy seems to be like wearing a sign that says “Please! Comment on my body, I beg you!”
No other time in my life besides pregnancy has anyone ever felt the need to comment on my changing body. Even with my healthiest pregnancy, I was greeted with “You’re just so big!” It’s like people forget that we are LIVING in there and the incessant observations, even the well-intentioned ones, are just plain hurtful, invasive, or embarrassing. Feeling evaluated never feels good, but feeling evaluated based on the shape of our bodies can feel like crap.
We’re not going to be able to stop the comments from being said, but we can learn to handle them in a way that stops further commenting and keeps our self-respect in tact. Follow these four steps when someone makes an unwanted comment about your body:
1. Decide what the situation calls for
Is the person commenting a stranger, or someone you’ll see more often? If it’s someone you won’t be seeing more than once, you may choose just to blow it off and move on. However, if it’s someone whom you’re coming into contact with more often, or the comment was especially invasive or hurtful, you may decide you need to speak up.
Remember, you are worthy of respect no matter what your body currently looks like.
2. Using “I” statements, set your boundaries
It may be tempting to comeback with an insult, but this won’t make you feel better. Once, someone I worked with said I was sooo big, and I was grumpy and overdue, so I said “I’m 9 months pregnant, what’s your excuse?”😬 In the moment it felt like a great burn, but as the adrenaline wore off I felt lower than before her comment, because now I was big AND I was mean. I regret it to this day.
Instead, you’ll want to preface with a disarming statement that keeps the other person from going straight to the defensive, something like “I know you don’t mean anything by that…”, and then clearly state how the comments are making you feel by using an “I” statement so that you are owning your feelings: “…but I feel hurt when you call me big because it feels invasive to hear comments on my body.” or “I would prefer not to hear any comments, whether they are positive or negative, about the shape of my body.”
You can follow up with this statement by giving them an example of what you are ok with: “I always love hearing ‘You look great!’ or when you ask me how I’m feeling!”
3. Practice these statements ahead of time
In the moment, you’re probably going to fumble your words just out of shock at what was said. But if you have thought ahead of time about what to say, it makes the situation a little easier to handle.
It’s not easy to speak up in that moment, but you will feel so much better after you hold your ground, especially if it stops future commenting from someone you see often.
4. Don’t take it personally
Easier said than done, but if you can rise above the hurt and try to understand that all judgements come through the lens of the person making them, you’ll know that this wasn’t really about you (even though it was directed at you).
More than likely, the person feels that they’re commenting on pregnancy in general, or they’re trying to relate to you (and failing!). If they are being intentionally hurtful, this says everything about them and nothing about you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.
Our love for ourselves can’t be dependent on what others think of us, so take this as an opportunity to practice radical self-love and acceptance. After all, we are the only ones whose opinions and thoughts we can control.
Has anyone ever commented on your pregnancy or postpartum body? How did you handle it?