Nope. Simmer down, this isn’t any kind of an announcement. Today’s Never Say Diet is all about what to do when someone assumes you’re pregnant but you’re totally not — plus why that even bothers us so much in the first place.
As you can probably guess, this post is inspired by a true story because being mistaken-as-pregnant Keeps. Happening. To. Me.
As previously discussed, I do not have a waist. I also have a thing for empire waist dresses and flowy cardigans. And that is my journey — though I think this mini-trend in my life says just as much about how much we’ve lost the plot on women and the shape of their stomachs, as I explain over on NSD.
What I didn’t have space to get into over there is how I’ve actually handled these encounters.
In a word: Awkwardly.
So very awkwardly.
I usually laugh and try very hard not to seem offended — because I want to get the message across that I’m comfortable with my body and anyway, I don’t think “looking pregnant” is the crime against humanity/fashion faux pas that we make it out to be.
But at the same time, I am offended. There’s that initial moment — before all the body positivity training kicks in — where the tiny part of my brain that still unequivocally buys into the Beauty Myth thinks, “good f*ck, I’m fat.” I’m not proud of this, but it happens and I want to be honest with you guys.
Then I remember all the stuff about being comfortable with my body, blah, blah, and we’re good again. Me and my body, that is. I’m still offended by the person calling me pregnant, not because it’s so terrible to look pregnant but because it’s so terrible for total strangers to think they can say this stuff to women they’ve known all of twelve seconds. My body is not available as your conversational ice breaker.
Also, and this is just a fact: There is no way anyone has ever mistaken me for more than three or four months pregnant. I’m just not that big! And we all know that the first trimester falls under the Pregnancy Cone of Silence where you only tell family members and such. So then I try to combine my “Whatevs, I love my body!” laugh-and-shrug with a stern “I don’t even have to disclose this fake pregnancy to my employer yet, why would I tell you?” eyebrow raise to let them know they’re being horribly inappropriate and I’m not letting them off the hook that easily.
And that’s a weird set of reactions to combine in the space of a few seconds, and ergo, awkward.
I went through that whole dance again last week with a nurse in my dermatologist’s office who mistook my flowy cardigan as an invitation to discuss the status of my uterus (at a skin cancer screening? Not relevant!). That’s when I decided that this is what it is, it’s going to keep happening, and I really need to sort out some better responses for myself. Which I have now done, and you can check them out over on Never Say Diet.
And please, if you have a story about being mistaken for pregnant, do share. My NSD editor had it happen to her at a wedding — the groom’s father swooped over to grab a glass of champagne out of her hand with a lecture about expecting mothers and booze! Which is pretty great. One of my best friends had a bus driver shout “any day now, right?” when she ran on wearing a big coat. (She explained that unless he saw a baby crowning, he should stop assuming things about the bodies of the women boarding his bus.) And so, we can agree this is one of those universally awkward moments that women aren’t talking enough about. I’d love to know how you felt about it and how you handled it — let’s add to my list of useful responses so I’m never stuck doing the awkward laugh + shrug + eyebrow raise thing again…
PS. No picture today because my CaptureMe software has decided to start only taking really, really dark pictures of everything it captures. If any tech gurus know the fix (or a better screen-grabbing app to use!) I’m all ears!