This question, and it’s many variations, should almost never be asked of another human being. The exception being when it is necessary for safety and/or medical reasons. That’s literally it!
There is a list of reasons longer than my arm as to why this is. There is also a smaller list of instances where I have been subjected to that very question, at various weights and sizes. I’ve even had my not-even-slightly-pregnant belly patted by a colleague once, while right smack-bang in the middle of the heathy weight range. The most recent instance was more an announcement than a question, and it was a doozy.
Fat or Pregnant?
I was dropping off my 13-year-old step-son at his friend’s house. I walked him to the door and introduced myself to the dad. We chatted briefly about what they boys would be doing that day before his eyes drifted to my midsection.
Like everyone else, I put on a couple of kilos over Christmas. Also, like everyone else, I haven’t quite gotten around to starting that “new year, new me” health kick. But hey, that’s my business, right?
Anyway, the dad gestured towards my belly and excitedly said “You’re pregnant!”
Awkward. “Nope. Just fat,” I replied, “In fact, this is mostly cake.”
His face dropped, and he immediately apologised. I then felt terrible and sort of compelled to reassure him that it was fine. Totally fine, not offended at all, happens all the time! Maybe I should do a test, just to be sure, har har har!
Why? Why did I react like that? I was most definitely offended, it does not happen “all the time” and no one reassured me! Suddenly, his faux pas was my problem. My reaction, judging from the stories friends have shared with me, is all too common.
Too Polite for My Own Good
From childhood, women are socialised and conditioned to be polite, first and foremost. You see it in every sphere of our work and home lives. We will constantly put ourselves out to make other people comfortable. Even when someone we’ve just met decides it’s perfectly okay to make an intimate comment on our bodies. And yes, even when that comment is “Your abdomen looks big enough to be housing a foetus right now.”
Our bodies are private property
Our bodies are not objects to be scrutinised and discussed by strangers. Sure, you might look at me and wonder if I’m fat or pregnant, but the answer to that question isn’t any of your business. Whether or not someone is pregnant is actually a really personal, intimate question to ask.
More Reasons Not to Ask
Beyond it being absolutely rude and none of your beeswax, there are some other really good reasons why you should never ask.
• The woman might be struggling to conceive or going through fertility treatment, and your question might stress or upset her.
• Maybe she IS pregnant but not ready to tell anyone yet. That’s her decision!
• You, person at the shopping centre/work colleague/ friend of friend, are not their doctor and do not need to know.
• Perhaps they’ve experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Is it really okay for you to dig around inside that wound, random acquaintance?
• What if they can’t have children? Is your idle curiosity more important than their privacy?
• Suppose they have a health condition that causes a tummy bloat. Should they be put in a position where they feel obliged to give a detailed explanation of their IBS?
• Maybe they’re just pre-menstrual. When I’m pre-menstrual, I retain water like a camel and (word of warning) I’m just as likely to spit at you (metaphorically) if you ask me about it.
If in doubt, say nothing!
Some people (me) are just built like this. It doesn’t matter if I’ a size 12 or a size 20, I have rounded hips and a curved belly. It’s a remarkably common shape, actually. Having that shape does not mean the contents of my uterus is up for discussion.
If someone you know looks like they might possibly be up the duff, just wait. If they want you to know, they will certainly find a way to tell you.
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