The first time someone assumed that I was pregnant, I was in high school. I was at my after-school job and had gone next door to get dinner at the Chinese restaurant. The owner asked me something akin to, “When are you due?” When you’re in high school, constantly confused and mortified by your body, and self-conscious about being fat, this is the last thing you want to hear.
That was about 13 years ago. Since then, I’ve had some memorable experiences:
- The drunk one-night stand of my fiance’s best friend slurring, “Are you pregnant?” and when hearing my “no” response, saying, “Oh, then you must have a tubby tummy.” (At this point, I was a size 10-12.)
- The host at a local restaurant going, “Table for 3?” with a wink and nudge attitude. The fiance stiffened up, and growled, “No, table for 2.” The host responded with, “Oh, I know I just…” before being cut off with a “No, just a table for 2.” He quickly got the hint.
- Standing in line with my best friend at Joann’s. An elderly woman in front of me goes, “Oh, when are you due honey?” I politely shake my head and say, “I’m not… I’m just fat.” She grows embarrassed at this point and a bit indignant, “Oh, I’m sorry… well, you can understand my confusion….” “It’s okay. It happens a lot.” “Well, can you tell me what you eat so I don’t end up that way?” As I sit in stunned for a moment I answered with “I really love pizza and cupcakes.” With relief she laughed and said, “Oh good, I never eat those things anyhow.” Meanwhile, my normally fierce best friend has become a shrinking violet in the corner.
- A number of individual cases where a man (or woman) goes “Oh, when are you due?!” When I politely inform them I’m not, they’re mortified– because they or their partner has gone through that, had those questions, and they know how hurtful it is. “I can’t believe I just said that. I know better than that.”
These comments have come regardless of my size: I can be a size 10/12 or an 18/20, but because my stomach is always just a bit soft, people will assume I’m pregnant. Pregnancy is something our culture embraces and celebrates (most of the time– 16 and Pregnant, I’m NOT looking at you). Being fat is not celebrated.