A few months ago I attended a beautiful wedding shower for an old friend. I have recently lost 20 pounds and was feeling good, I went out and bought a new shirt with some shirring in the front and a new sweater and felt like a million bucks. I went off to the party. I was able to catch up with old friends, meet new friends, I was having a ball until it happened ... the dreaded question most women, unless you are expecting hate, "Are you pregnant?"
For a moment I will digress ... it is a question most women and now most men should know, you do not ask another woman. A woman who is expecting and either far enough along or wishes to share the news, makes it well known through her
verbal and non verbal language that she is expecting. The clues are rubbing her
belly, holding her lower back, referring to herself in the plural, saying things such as, "when the baby arrives."
Now, back to the story, I looked at the woman, who I hadn't seen in over 20 years, and said to her. "Oh NO! I was just having this discussion that it is so frustrating losing weight after having kids in that there are certain parts of the body that
bounce back quicker than others and I have always struggled with weight in my
stomach, Ugh! It is so frustrating." I laughed, she awkwardly apologized, and I went on my way ... devastated. I tried my best to diffuse the situation and not show I had been rattled.
The next day, the headline in the paper was about Drew Barrymore sporting a "bump" the titled asked the question, "Is she or isn't she?" At the same time another Hollywood starlet Reese Witherspoon's bump was under speculation. I began to wonder what effect the media's fascination with the bump had to do with the question I was asked about my own stomach the prior day. Why are we so obsessed with women's bumps/stomachs? I wondered, how come when I was pregnant with my first child strangers felt it was their right to come up and grope my stomach, patting it, squeezing it and how come post baby people feel it is their right to comment on it too.
I know I am not alone. I have friends who have recently given birth and people who knew they were pregnant and had seen them weeks before the birth makes comments to them, "So when are you having the baby?" Other friends have been told, "I thought you would lose the belly after the baby was born?"
Come on people! How ignorant! How silly! How thoughtless.
How come we don't think before we speak? There is an actual moment of time in
between our thoughts and words, they are designed so we can actually think
about whether this is the message we want to convey and if the message could
possibly hurt another's feelings. Thinking before speaking and thinking about
the consequences of our words has far more to do with just comments about
women's stomachs, it has to do with being kind and decent. It has to do with
respecting ourselves and others and treating people as we want to be treated.
So, a few days later I went into the same store where I bought the shirt, wearing
the shirt, to return a necklace that had broken. I went up to the counter and told the woman I would like to return the necklace because I wore it to a shower this past weekend and it broke. She then responded, "Oh was it your baby shower?" and laughed. I took a deep breath and looked her straight in the eye and said to her, "No it was a friend's wedding shower. Are you telling me that I look like I am nine months pregnant and could have been attending my own baby shower this past weekend?"
She was silent and began processing my return. I asked again, she looked up at me and said, "I was joking." I then calmly said, "You didn't answer my question" and repeated it. She finally looked up and said "No." I then went on to tell her how I have been losing weight after the birth of my third child and that my stomach has always been a problem area.
She then responded, "I said something stupid, I have children too and know the struggle, I am sorry."
She then offered me a discount on shopping for the day. I told her I would no longer be purchasing clothes at this store because I am wearing a shirt bought there and it is unflattering to my body and makes me look pregnant. I went back an hour later and returned all the items and walked out the door liberated.
For anyone and everyone who has their struggles, whether it be weight, height, another body part that you struggle with or insecurity you may have, you are not alone! People make comments sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally that stab us right where it hurts. Please remember that they are ignorant and although it hurts you shouldn't take it to heart. Also, remember that if you feel comfortable you can tell them that it hurts your feelings and walk away.
For everyone, and most of us have, who have said sometime without thinking that was not nice or may be taken by the receiving party as not nice, you have an opportunity to pause and think before you speak. Once words are said they can't be taken back but if you do say something that is taken the wrong way, you can always say, "I'm sorry that is not what I meant."
And for goodness sake, let's stop our obsessing with baby bumps, six-pack abs, backsides, etc., and let everyone (celebrity or not) live and let live.