Public commentary on my rapidly expanding pregnant belly has reached an all time high. As a woman who has been petite my entire life, commentary on my body by strangers is something that I’ve become used to, for better or for worse. While I spent a significant portion of my teenage years building up an arsenal of mostly unspoken witticisms to combat the rudeness, in my adulthood I do my best to take the unsolicited commentary in stride. I try to remember that people are generally well-intentioned and that even when they sound like accusations that they’re generally aiming at delivering complements. I gracefully skirt questions about my secret and my diet and the particular phenotypes of my mother and sisters and anyone else who might have breathed her mystical ectomorphic genes onto me. I realize that this falls firmly into skinny people problems, but suffice to say that our cultural preoccupation with weight and beauty has insidious effects on the naturally thin, too.
Enter pregnancy; a moment when your body and its shape seems to be understood as a fair subject for public debate and opinion, regardless of your size. Or so thinks every third person I pass on the street. I’m trying not to be utterly humorless about the whole ordeal—gotta keep those good endorphins flowing for bébé, etc.—but I admit that the whole thing can be a bit tiring.
Because I can’t stand on the street corner all day proselytizing about shit people shouldn’t say to a woman carrying the weight of another human being inside of her, here are my top five du jour:
1. A bump is a thing that happens to you. By accident. Or mysteriously. Usually painfully. A bump is red and itchy or else blue and tender. This is my belly, not my bump, and there’s a growing baby inside of it.
2: Whether the pregnancy at hand is a woman’s first, second, third, successful or otherwise pregnancy is not anyone’s business. If someone doesn’t already know the answer to this question, they’re not close enough to the woman in question to be asking it. (Ditto to questions about whether someone “tried” for a long time and if the pregnancy was planned.) I mean, hello?
3. Consider mammalian anatomy and physiology. Female mammals do not pop. They labor. They do hard work to push a tiny being out of a tinier orifice that is made expressly for the purpose. No, I am not about to pop, kind sir on the 3 train. But I would love to sit down.
4. The sex of my child is unknown; to me and to everyone else. Doesn’t matter what your great aunt Gertrude says about the fact that my face has “pudged up” or whether “it looks like I’ve got a basketball under my shirt.”
5. If I am kind enough to indulge questions about when my baby is (likely) set to make his or her début, this doesn’t mean I’m also welcoming comments about whether I look comparatively large or small. Women’s bodies grow and change at entirely different rates and in unpredictable ways. I’d rather not feel like you’re scrutinizing mine (or anyone else’s). Mkay?
I am woman, hear me roar. End scene.