My first post of the month is usually dedicated to my ‘Five Highlights from the Month of X‘ series that is a generally positive post, reflecting on both the big achievements from the month before and the little things that put a smile on my face too (hence the slightly off topic photo set for this post). In case you’re wondering July was fab. As has been a theme for 2018 so far, it completely flew by in ‘blink and you miss it’ fashion and this time round included multiple podcast recordings, meet-ups in both Birmingham and Glasgow (THANK YOU!) and more to-do lists than you can shake a stick at. There you go, I saved you the 1,000 word post and thought that instead today I’d like to discuss a topic that if I’m honest, has got under my skin real deep over the past couple of months.
You lot know me, I’m not one to get on my soapbox often, if at all in a fairly public way – but after talking about this off the record with many friends, both whom are in and out of the online world, it’s an issue that we all appear to face in some way or another and it boggles my mind that that is the case. Here’s the thing. Please can we all just agree to not ask women if they are pregnant? Pretty please?
I know, I know. Babies are the cutest things and I will put my hands up and admit that my ovaries practically do burst out of my belly if I’m within a 500m radius of one. I’m totally one of those people will swoon at a newborn baby out for the first time and whimper ‘It’s so fresh! IT’S SO ADORABLE!‘. I get it and I get the excitement around it. I look forward to one day being an Aunty. One day all my friends having children if they so wish to. I hope that one day that Mark and I are lucky enough to have a family of our own and it’s something that we get all giddy about whenever we talk about it. I get that we all hypothesise – trust me I’ve been there when a mate has turned down an alcoholic drink for lunch and my eyebrow has done an excited twitch – but actually forming that sentence ‘Are you pregnant?‘ and asking someone? Yeah, let’s do less of that.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this post was birthed (LOLZ) from multiple messages that I have received over the past couple of months asking, or sometimes even stating that I am pregnant (SPOILER: I am not). One comment the other day spoke of how I look heavier than I did this time last year and that I must therefore be pregnant. Sometimes these messages are under videos or Instagram posts, but often they creep into my private DM box where it’s just me and the person who feels that it’s ok to discuss someone’s weight. Often I can brush these off. I get that most of time they come from a place of love and excitement – see above, I get it – but this one, along with others that I’ve had over the past couple of weeks, felt different.
I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why these handful of comments have pushed my buttons in a different way, but it’s this culture of critiquing bodies that just doesn’t sit well with me. When did putting on a couple of pounds because it’s summer and you’re enjoying eating and drinking with friends and family, equate to an assumption that you’re pregnant. When did having a soft belly that becomes slightly more apparent in the summer thanks to the lack of layers, mean that you’re hiding something? When did it become ok to comment on another’s appearance – more specifically their weight – and publicly pick apart reasons for weight gain or loss?
When you’re pregnant you gain weight. You’re growing another human for pete’s sake – GO YOU! Comments on a pregnant body are a whole different can of worms, but if you’re not the suggestion that you are, is just a commentary that you’ve put on weight. Chances are that down to your trouser buttons you already know that and a comment on the Internet isn’t telling you something that you don’t already know, but it can be really bloomin’ shit, dangerous and devastating for a whole myriad of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant and are unfortunately struggling to. Maybe you’re on medication where weight-gain is a side effect. Maybe mental health is something you struggle with and a comment like this might mean that they’ll be barely any food on your plate for the rest of the day, or week, or month. Maybe you’ve miscarried.
I count my lucky stars that none of the aforementioned currently apply to me. Fertility is definitely something on my mind as I approach 30, but having never tried for kids, that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we come to it. Eating disorders run in my family, but I am grateful that my mind so far in my lifetime hasn’t wired itself in that way. I’m only human and so of course every time I see one of these comments I can’t help but feel deflated and give a little side-eye to my non-washboard stomach, but I love food! I love eating out! I love drinking with friends! And I’m lucky to have a healthy and able body which allows me to do whatever I want to do in life, so if a soft belly is the card I’ve been dealt, then so be it.
Reading this post back, I’m certain that it’s not as profound as it was in my head when I wrote it in my head last night on the train. However, I hope that it’s hammered home how it’s just not a question that we should be asking. You might think it in your head, or get excited planning out what baby clothes you can buy for your mate. But actually asking the question? Let’s leave the ‘p’ word until they’re ready to tell.
Photos by Emma Croman
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