I’m Not Pregnant, I’m Just Fat
By Brianna Bell
Photo © awoymatt/Twenty20
Nov 21, 2019
Earlier this year I was vacationing with my family in a quiet northern Ontario town, getting a little rest from the busyness of our typical life. While my husband packed up the car to return home, I walked to a nearby bakery with my three daughters, ages seven, five and two. As we made our way up the wooden stairs of the shop, my foot on one chipped step while balancing my toddler on my aching hip, a man hollered to me from a few feet away.
“Are you finally getting a boy?” he asked, gesturing to my stomach.
My hands were full as I balanced my toddler and tried to open the door, but even in my distracted state I knew exactly what he was asking me.
Read another mom's perspective on body image: What Motherhood Has Taught Me About My Plus-Size Body
“Nope. I’m not having any more kids,” I replied firmly.
I quickly made my escape into the yeast-filled bakery, but I could already feel the tears coming. It doesn’t matter how often it happens — and it happens often — every time someone asks if I’m expecting another baby I feel a lump in my throat and hot shame spread across my cheeks. Sometimes the question comes out of nowhere, bursting a good mood or a joy-filled moment. Other times I can anticipate it, watching as the person’s eyes drop down to my stomach; I can hear the question on the lips before they say it.
I’ve been asked if I’m pregnant in a dozen different ways.
“Are you expecting again?"
“When are you due?”
“Is this one going to be a boy?”
I’ve debated just pretending I’m pregnant to avoid an awkward situation.
In the past when asked if I’m pregnant I’ve made excuses, like the fact that I had three massive children who stretched my stomach until I thought my skin would snap. Sometimes I’ve said it’s just leftover love from my babies. I’ve debated just pretending I’m pregnant to avoid an awkward situation. The worst part is that I worry about making the invasive stranger feel uncomfortable, never mind the fact that they’ve asked me such an inappropriate question. I end up feeling gut-punched and guilty after the interaction.
Recently, when someone asked me whether or not I was pregnant I decided to just come out with it, and say the truth. “No, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat,” I replied.
Here's how one mother handled her kid's question: 'do you think I look fat?'
It was an abrupt end to the conversation, but at least I was being honest. In the past when people have felt the need to comment on my body I have felt disempowered, their gaze making me want to shrink into myself and disappear.
My body, its shape, or anything else about my outward appearance shouldn’t be up for conversation. But I felt empowered when I responded with the truth: you are looking at a fat stomach, not a growing fetus. I don’t say I’m fat out of shame, embarrassment or because I think I’m flawed.
This is who I am, I can claim it, and I can own it — and yes, I can even call my fat body beautiful.
Fat is simply an adjective, and when we look at it as a derogatory or insulting word we do a disservice to fat bodies. This is who I am, I can claim it, and I can own it — and yes, I can even call my fat body beautiful.
In the past when I’ve been asked about whether I’m pregnant, or have simply been told that I am, I’ve felt embarrassed for the person asking. Part of me has taken on their shame as my own, feeling like I needed to overcompensate to make the interaction less uncomfortable for them.
But I’m done making others feel better about themselves when it means giving away pieces of myself, especially when they’re the ones who are in the wrong. By claiming my body unashamedly I’m letting them know that this is who I am.
Perhaps they’ll learn that asking invasive questions about women’s bodies is unacceptable — because it is.
From now on if you ask me if I’m pregnant, whether it’s at the hair salon while I’m pampering myself, out enjoying a day at the park with my kids or going to a yoga class at the gym, I’ll respond with a confident smile and say: “Nope. Just fat,” and then I’ll move on.
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