*** This is a Public service Announcement, brought to you courtesy of my hormones***
Modern manners, codes of behaviour, decorum and rules of etiquette, they may differ from culture to culture, but manners by and large follow the same principle: Just don’t be dick -I paraphrase, but that just happens to be the single philosophy I keep returning to, which essentially covers the broad spectrum of acceptable ways to conduct oneself around other humans, and in society as a whole, I’m sure you’ll agree?
So just what is it then, that inspires folks- strangers and family members alike, to make such insensitive comments or actions towards a pregnant person? Curious questions, whilst understandable and usually well-meaning, far too often cross the boundary from agreeably interested, to judgmental or offensive.
It’s as though people forget that a pregnant woman, is still a person rather than just an object.
Let’s take staring: It’s rude. Why would you think that it’s welcoming to stare at me like I’m some kind of a zoo exhibit, as I walk along the road? Pointing, making observations about my shuffle, and size? Or ogle as I strip down to my bikini at the beach? (Yeah, I’m pregnant & I still don a 2 piece, SO what?)
We teach our children (in western society at least) that it is rude to stare, point or make comments towards others, but especially about those who are visibly different in their appearance. If a person has a physical impairment or disability, it is out and out wrong to display said behaviour, yet towards a pregnant woman it’s somehow admissible (I’m speaking from personal experience). I educate and encourage my son to understand that it’s ok to make observations about folks around us, but there are ways to discuss and comprehend these differences, ie: talking to me and asking me questions, rather than staring or making LOUD, rude remarks. I’m sure ALL parents have been there: our little darlings decide to announce to the universe that ‘ Look Mummy! That man has a FAT tummy’, or similar, cue my desire for the ground to swallow me up, right, now. Whilst children can be forgiven for such outbursts, after all, they are still learning ‘expression management’ & social diplomacy, It saddens me that grown-ups seem to forget their manners entirely
Something pregnant women the world over will be united on, are those (countless) unsolicited remarks on our bump size. You would never* in day-to-day life, walk up to a stranger on the street, strike up a conversation and drop in the dumb ass observational comment ‘ You’re really fat’ or ‘Wow, are you SO skinny’ (*I’ma give you the benefit of the doubt, good reader, that you’re not an asshole, so forgive the presumption that you’d never exhibit this behavior, but I’m pretty confident you’re a good bunch). WHY then, can there be any excuse for a person to pass judgment on the size of your Buddha belly? ‘Oh, your bump is tiny’ or ‘Wow, your bump is huge’ , ‘Is it triplets?’ -Major anxiety, guilt or worry can be caused by any of these comments. Instead try, ‘You look great/ perfect/ wonderful’. HmmmK?
-Whilst we’re there, NO you may NOT touch my stomach (ah, I could have monetized on that, by charging per belly rub. Although, that sounds like some messed up fetish. On second thoughts, just step away from the tummy.)
‘You can tell that you’re pregnant in your face’ – WHAT, the actual, fuckeroos? Did I eat a baby? Translation, please? You’re either saying (1) I look fat (see above) or (2) Are the doctors conducting some incredibly weird scientific experiment that I’m somehow unaware of, where by my uterus is now located in my cheeks? Perhaps, and this is just a thought here, try and actually engage your brain before you verbalise some utter nonsense, yeah?
This next point may be very British of me**, but from a young age we’re encouraged not to talk to strangers, so I find myself feeling very socially awkward when strangers on the street (well, the beach these days 😉 ) pop up out of nowhere, and without any prior warning launch into a deep conversation about my pregnancy/ their experience/ telling me intimate details about things I wish I could erase from my memory vaginas or birth stories. Apparently, displaying to the world that you’re pregnant is a green light for stranger danger to be lifted. I’ve adopted the uncomfortable ‘smile and nod’ routine, whilst inside my head, there’s a whole dictionary of profanity’s swirling around willing to be unleashed. **Or maybe it’s not a ‘British’ thing, just a pregnancy/hormonal- leave me the fuck alone- kinda thing?
Lastly, THOSE looks. There are 2 in particular, which just leave me boiling at thus stage of incubating a child. The sympathetic, sad eyed, accompanied by a nod of the head ‘ Oh, poor you’– or the rude, wide-eyed, double take: ‘JESUS. That’s one BIG belly!’. Neither are particularly helpful, thanks guys.
My friend recently warned me about this surge of hormonal rage that may come, and she wasn’t wrong. I’ve never experienced it before, so it’s really caught me off guard. I’m prepared to believe that these rather inappropriate behaviours or remarks, don’t come from a place of malaise or ill will, nor do they intend to insult or upset me: more that the thought process behind them has been
completely nonexistent terribly naïve, and the subsequent delivery is poorly considered. I can also acknowledge that I’m in a current state of heightened emotional awkwardness (read: EXTREEEMLY sensitive and explosive). So I’ll merely say this; don’t say stupid shit to a pregnant woman: Check yo’ self, before you wreck yo’ self. Don’t say you haven’t been warned…….
*** Normal, happy and hormonal free service, shall resume shortly***