I’m Not Pregnant. I’m Fat.

i'm not pregnant i'm fat

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.

I’m a 29 year old built from strong Irish/German/English stock: all of my weight falls into my belly and I have naturally glowing skin. As a girl with slim limbs, prominent facial bones, and “a pretty face,” people assume I’m pregnant.  While there is beauty in pregnancy and it’s a natural condition of our bodies, fat is also a natural aspect of our bodies.

Sometimes I question if there’s not something else there. It wasn’t until the elderly lady was so obviously offended by my fatness that I began to wonder: is it easier for people believe a large woman is pregnant rather than see her as a “a fat girl who is pretty”?

Is it more comforting for us to assume that a woman is pregnant than it is to believe a woman can be fat and beautiful? Why does my body and it’s natural state impact people who don’t know me?  And why do we feel the need and drive to comment directly to a stranger about their body?

Over the years, my reactions have changed. For a while I was embarrassed, mumbling that I’m not pregnant, and then I’d shuffle off. There was a period where I’d get angry, defensive, and just let them know through tone and facial expressions that not only was I NOT pregnant, they were an asshole.  Nowadays, I unapologetically just let them know I’m just fat before going about my business.

There have been times I’ve seen a woman and thought, “Is she, or isn’t she?” Never mind the fact it isn’t any of my business, but I also can’t imagine commenting … only to be wrong. To put that woman through the flood of emotions that I’ve felt over the years. Instead, I smile and walk along.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a pregnancy comment when you weren’t? What was your response? Alternately, have you ever mistakenly asked a woman when she was due, to find out she was just fat?

_ _ _

Call her Ash, Ashe, or Ashley– she doesn’t mind! Already Pretty contributor Ashley began blogging in 2007 about fashion and style to fill a void in her life while living in the wintery tundra of Indiana. Her blog Dramatis Personae focuses on food, life & style.  Ashley’s love of fashion began at 10, when she bought her first issue of Seventeen magazine; this also began a life long battle with learning to love her body (she never looked like the girls who graced those pages). As a plus-sized woman, she loves promoting fashion for all women and shops that want to make all ladies feel beautiful.  She currently calls New Orleans home and share her little house with a wonderful fiance and two brilliant and playful Maine Coons kitties.

 

  • Amanda

    I’ve always gone by this rule: unless she tells you she is pregnant or physically has a baby coming out of her, assume she isn’t pregnant.

    • Mary Kovar

      Ashley – I’ve always loved columnist Dave Barry’s rule, which you have just reminded me about….. “unless you actually see the baby coming out of her, NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant” word.

  • Cee

    This happens to me all the time as well! I am also of Irish/German/English descent. When I was at my thinnest, I always had rounder cheeks and a rounded stomach. When I started to gain weight, it went straight to my stomach. Even when I was pregnant, people would assume I was having twins.

  • Jennifer

    Oh boy. I haven’t received any comments, but I’m sure people have thought it. I have a reputation for telling people off so most reserve their comments around me, though I occasionally hear things that are said. As a teenager I always used to get confused for a boy due to my scrawny frame and short hair, as if I needed more insecurities piled on top of regular teen concerns, especially since I didn’t try to look like a boy or didn’t think I even remotely did. Now that I am fat my family feels free to make this the topic of conversation at every family get together and it really makes me feel like crap. I get all sorts of lectures about health risks from people who think nothing of drinking a bottle of wine with each and every meal and smoking a pack a day. It’s humiliating. I know deep down they mean well but they have no idea how hurtful they are. And don’t even get me started on the liberties people assume when you actually are pregnant. I’ve had no qualms about swatting away hands trying to feel my belly, including perfect strangers. Having children/being pregnant has made me an infinitely more understanding and respectful person. You don’t know nosy until you’ve actually been pregnant.

    • Aurora

      I know how you feel, but my fiance finally stopped nagging me. Have you tried telling them that nagging you isn’t going to make any difference? I told my family that and they stopped, do they know how it hurts you?

  • http://newvintage.wordpress.com Andrea

    This post has me a bit concerned because she says people assume she is pregnant no matter what her overall size is. I have IBD and can look very pregnant when my medication is not working properly. Before being diagnosed, I always looked pregnant. It wasn’t a fat stomach, it was bloated and expanded intestines. If she has any gastro symptoms in addition to the pregnant looking belly, she needs to see a gastroenterologist. When I get asked if I’m pregnant, I respond with, “no, I have an autoimmune disease that is causing my body to eat itself from within.” That ends the discussion right away.

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      Andrea, I’m glad you bring that up! I was actually tested as a child and while they found some stomach issues (my stomach would stop/slowly digest food during periods of high stress), they actually couldn’t pinpoint the nature of the problem. They called it IBD because they had no other term for it.

      My stomach problems have subsided once I got into my late teens, but any time I have any kind of issue I get checked out! I get checked up regularly though, and have always let my doctors know of this when I see a new one– so far, everything has checked out a-ok. I appreciate your concern, and am glad to have the chance to actually share that side of my past though.

      • Angela

        I have mild IBS and no gluten or diary works well. When I am really following it, people ask if I have lost weights my ‘puffiness’ subsides.

      • http://www.janelmessenger.com Janel

        I was going to suggest the same thing! While I’m normally a slender waisted, bottom heavy hourglass shape, I bloat like I’m 7 months pregnant if I ingest one of my food allergens. I’m glad to hear that you’ve got a handle on your health. :)

        Two of my closest girlfriends share your problem. I know it’s frustrating for them as well.

    • Victoria

      I know this feeling – my IBS is mostly under control (except when I’m stressed, so not too much the past 6 months), and it really does look reminiscent to many people of pregnancy.
      I’m 5’0″, so any flare-up can make a huge difference in my body shape. How are they treating yours?

      • Secret Squirrel

        Ah, I was just about to reply with the same – I have a narrow frame, so when I eat dairy and my stomach puffs up, it really shows. I usually say ‘thanks for pointing that out’…

        I am sorry you have had to put up with stupid comments.

  • Susan

    Here’s the thing – people are fools. I’ve had someone ask the same question, and at the time I was 50! I think the only thing to do is assume good intentions and then go on about your business. Don’t give it another thought.

  • Susan

    When I was FIFTY years old, the young bagger at the grocery store asked when my baby was due. I was wearing a knit dress in empire style (this was 10 years ago). I never wore that dress again…….

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      Oh Susan! I can’t tell you how many things I’ve STOPPED wearing because I received a comment like that in it. That’s a whole other bag of worms, isn’t it? Needless to say… several of my favorite pieces have ended up in the donation bag as a result.

      • Emily

        Ditto on the getting rid of/never wearing an outfit again. I carry all of my weight in my belly, too, made worse after having three kids. I’ve been asked and told congratulations (“On what?”)… More times rhan i can count. What I hate the most, though, is that it’s made me self-conscious. Now I refuse to wear anything that could even remotely make me look pregnant. Add in the IBS on a bad day and I might just not even make it out of the house. How do you get past that? Thanks for sharing–I’m glad I’m not the only one.

        • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @ Ash in Fashion

          How do you get past that?
          That’s a hard question to answer, Emily… and one that I don’t know has an easy fix.

          Just last night I was asked when I was due; I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Part of it is realizing that… while it is me, it’s NOT me. I have control over my body and how it looks, yes, and what I wear, but I don’t have control over how people respond to me and it. And I know that not everyone will always respond the way I want, despite the efforts I may put into controlling my “image” so to speak.

          I’m sure I’ll always be self-conscious about my weight, but I try to make it personal and not let others motivate my view of myself (easier said than done). I try to make my goals and my dressing about me, and not others.

          In a way… I guess it’s my way of recognizing and NOT putting faith in people for once because I know inevitably whatever I wear, someone will say/think something. I usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt, think people good and well-intentioned. Here’s the place I don’t always, and I’m sure it’s a self-defense mechanism to some degree. But if I recognize that I may get hurt, it’s their well-intentions/carelessness/whatever at stake and not ME, then it makes it a bit easier.

          If that makes sense! It’s so hard to explain, but at best it really is: “it’s not you. You’re fine and normal and beautiful with a human body. They’re well intentioned/careless/hurtful, but that’s THEIR error, not yours.” And just reminding yourself of it over and over.

      • alanna21

        I agree, i feel like most of my outfits that i feel comfortable in and like someone comments about me being pregnant. I find it very depressing because i feel like i cant wear clothes that dont make me look pregnant with out being uncomfortabl

  • http://www.shoedaydreams.com Poochie

    I’ll bet the more matter of fact you are with your response (where you are now), the more surprised/disconcerted/offended (a al the elderly lady example) people are. I think they WANT you to be ashamed of it. Well, F that. You keep feeling great and doing what you are doing.

  • Nique

    When I was four years old I asked a neighbor if she was pregnant (she wasn’t.) When I got home, I got a stearn talking to by my mom, and she told me to NEVER ask a woman if she was pregnant. That lesson stuck.
    Now I am an obstetricician, and I still NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant or make that assumption based on her appearance. I am a pregnancy expert, and I still don’t do it.

  • Eleanorjane

    It’s really weird how pregnant bodies seem to become public property, isn’t it? I’ve never been pregnant, but I suspect I wouldn’t be any comfier with strangers or aquaintences touching my tummy and making comments than I am now!

    • Laura

      Yes, I think this is another aspect of this issue– people feel very comfortable commenting on pregnancy bodies, and when they find out that the body they are commenting on isn’t pregnant they become embarrassed. But why is it okay to comment on a strangers’ pregnant body? And strangers will even touch pregnant women without asking!

      • http://none Tracy

        ew, ew, ewwwwwwwwww. That is not something I’m looking forward to when pregnant. I’d like to wear a sign that says, “museum quality. look with your eyes, not with your hands.”

    • Thursday

      I’ve also noticed this, and I find it quite odd. Children, and therefore pregnant women, are somehow considered to be in the public domain so it’s ok to comment on them/touch them, etc. Not cool.

  • http://midwesternmodernmomma.blogspot.com Jen

    I haven’t ever had a stranger ask me. However I have had several co-workers (mostly female) ask me! Ones that know full-well I am not. One actually started backtracking on her statement into a “well-I-heard-you-and-your-husband-were-trying-and-I-thought-you-were-finally-expecting-number-two-and-doesn’t-your-son-want-a-little-brother/sister-by-now?!!” (the answer is no on both!) The thing is I’ve had a poochy belly from birth. I was a skinny-minny as a little girl, but the belly pooched out in front just as the butt swooped out in back. As a teen everything took on a softer appearance. Then I got pregnant (for real-with an actual baby, not just a food baby). Gave birth. And have proceeded to hold on to some of the weight and figure of a pregnant woman for the past six years like a boss. That’s fine. I’m totally cool with it. I mean, I CREATED A PERSON. But my repoductive decisions are mine. And if I am creating another person or not is no one’s business. And if my belly wants to curve out or in does not warrant speculation. At least I don’t think it should.

    Wow, this post really hit a nerve! I guess I am more sensitive about the whole “you need to make another kid” discussion I hear than the “when are you due” thing. But still, this question we get asked as women who carry our extra weight around our middles is unfair. No one asks J-Lo if she’s pregnant in the ass, do they?

    Okay, rant over. And thanks for the excellent post:)!!

    • michaela

      I really enjoyed your post. Thank you.

  • Jessica

    Oh yeah. Been there. I was in the check out line at one of my MOST favorite places to shop and the check out lady said “When are you due” Stupid me, I thought she was talking about my coupon I was looking at and saying what was the due date. NOPE. So I get embarrassed that I didn’t even GET it! And that she was calling me out on my lunch, dinner, snack baby! I’ve always had a pooch. Even in high school. Flat stomach just doesn’t exist unless you count the time I got divorced and dropped to 100 pounds because I was sickly depressed.

  • Belle

    When I was 24/25, I usually wore somewhat loose shirts. One day I wore a tighter shirt and showed my rounder belly and several ladies asked if I was pregnant. I was mortified and spluttered out no. I’ve been belly self-conscious for years now. I’m quite fit now but I still can’t bear to show off my belly at a bad angle.

  • http://www.primandpropah.com Amanda of Prim and Propah

    I am glad I stopped by to read this post. While I have always struggled with my weight, you could call me “lucky” that is situates itself in my upper body and thighs. I have never had someone comment on me being pregnant but I have had people plainly just comment on my fatness. At a previous job, a coworker was interviewing and our boss asked her when she was due. She wasn’t pregnant and was later hired. After that, it was a running joke about how that happened in the interview. I could tell it wasn’t a joke she enjoyed hearing over an over again. It was just cruel. Any way you slice it, there is no reason for someone to make any sort of comment to a woman whether you are pregnant or plump, because it’s unacceptable in my opinion. I also agree with above commenter that you should never assume someone is pregnant unless the baby is falling out haha!

  • Sonja

    I have been asked that by friends when I gained a little weight and still wore the same tight tops as always. I have to say that I didn’t mind it as much as the typical “when are you finally going to have a baby”-discussion – usually with slighty older women or those who already have kids and find it very important to tell me that I should not wait too long, because the wish IS finally going to kick in, and then I’ll regret being a fourty year old new mom. Well, mind your own business. I used to get really mad about that, now I just change the subject.

    • BC

      Hi Sonja, I just had to reply because your comment really hit home. I hate that discussion, it’s worse than anything. No one thinks or knows how much it hurts. I know they are trying to be helpful but it’s the opposite. You never know what someone is going through. No one has ever assumed I was, but I myself thought I did look sorta pregnant last year, and went and lost a bunch of weight, because nothing was worse than wanting to be pregnant and not being pregnant but feeling like you looked it. Pretty bad reason to lose weight. (Don’t worry a lot of it is back now.) Whether you want kids or not, those comments are never helpful. You’re either bringing up something extremely annoying at best or extremely painful at worst. I know that’s a whole other topic, but I just wanted you to know I feel your pain. I’m not at the “used to get really mad” stage, I still get really mad!

      • Sonja

        I suppose “not helpful” is really the only way to describe these comments.
        And I’m sending you a big hug!

        • BC

          That means so much to me, thank you sincerely.

      • DC

        Hi BC…I can so relate. I’ve never been asked if I was pregnant, but there was a time that my husband and I wanted a child desperately. While we were going through infertility, people seemed to come out of the woodwork to ask me questions like, “when are you going to have a baby?” or “why don’t you have kids?” It was so hurtful and infuriating. I did learn a lot though about minding my own business when it comes to other people’s life choices.

        • LK

          I get the “when will you get married when will you have a baby” all the time. Its aggravating and it hurts. Forget graduate school, and degrees and community service and all the other things I’ve worked so hard on. All we care about is when you’ll have a baby. People need to mind their own business.

          Best wishes for you BC. These people who made those comments to you have no concept of your hurt. They need to learn what is proper to say.

  • http://stylinstacy.com Stacy

    I had an elderly lady in Costco say something about me expecting another as I was holding onto my little girl. I think she was around 1 at the time. I was a bit like WTH?? and let it pass. You would think at her age she would know not to assume! Then I had a cousin ask me at a family holiday party because I was wearing an empire waist shirt and was a bit heavier than normal. Really??? I never say anything unless they look like they are going to give birth any second.

  • http://breebronsonsbabies.blogspot.com Bree Bronson

    I haven’t gotten any comments about being pregnant when I wasn’t – I’m kind of skinny. But when I *have* been pregnant – oh my gosh! I know you weren’t really asking about this but I’ve often found people’s comments quite offensive although they’re judgement about my dishwasher-size belly has been correct. I have been HUGE during my pregnancies and that seems to have justified almost any comment. These I’ve heard from complete strangers on the street:

    – OMG YOU CERTAINLY HAVE A BABY ON THE WAY (Really, Sherlock…)
    – Your belly is absolutely HUGE!!! (Yours isn’t so small either. I’m 7 months pregnant, what’s your excuse?)
    – What a belly, are you having twins? No? Are you sure? (I am indeed, never heard of ultrasound?)

    This has made me think – as Susan well put it – people are fools. ;)

    I’m pregnant again so I may have to blog about this myself as well…

    • http://breebronsonsbabies.blogspot.com Bree Bronson

      And, thank you so much Ashe for a great post!

  • Aziraphale

    I have not, but I do have a friend who has been on both the giving and receiving end of that comment. She once asked the cashier at the maternity store when she was due, but the girl was simply plump. Then she said the fates paid her back for that uncalled-for comment when, for some months AFTER the birth of her twins, people repeatedly asked her when the due date was.

    You would think that people would know better. But in the case of my friend, she was so happy to be pregnant that she saw pregnancy everywhere. And she’s the kind of friendly gal who strikes up conversations with strangers and just chatters a lot in general. Speaking before thinking is just part of her personality. She is not unkind. She should have known better, but what can you do.

  • http://girlinmaths.wordpress.com paulien

    Oh men, I have had this comment/question multiple times. I am not even actually fat, I just carry my weight there. It is not only very embarassing, but what hurts me more is the fact that I would like to be pregnant, but I probably never will be. This because my husband has had cancer, and is very probably infertile. So I always feel I am being hurt twice.
    Since it happened to me the first time I have made it a rule for myself never to ask or comment on a pregnancy, unless I am very very sure there actually is one. This should be taught in schools.

    • JFin

      paulien, I so feel you. I’m not particularly fat, but I definitely have a belly, I love empire waist dresses/tops, and occasionally get pregnancy comments. The most awsome part is that my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant with no success. So not only are people commenting on how fat I look, they’re also hitting a really sore point. I’m so sorry you’re feeling something similar, because it’s the worst.

    • BC

      Oh my gosh, thank you for writing this paulien I am in the same boat as you, with my husband. I replied to someone earlier in the thread. I lost weight because I thought I looked pregnant to myself, I couldn’t stand seeing my belly that had no baby in it. I was so stressed I got too thin, but thankfully it came back and I am healthy, but I dread anyone thinking I am. I don’t know you but I will keep you in my thoughts. I am so thankful to have my healthy husband with me, but I am still dealing with the grief of what we have lost.

    • Anne

      I wanted to add my voice as a person who carries her weight in the middle and suffers with infertility. I am average size-weight, and infertility drugs make me look poochier. It is cruel to have your body and reproductive capacity be commented on as if it is public property. I know cultural norms exist, but to actually have to respond to them to an individual person is extraordinarily painful.

      • Emily

        Hi Paulien,

        I just wanted to tell you that my husband had cancer in high school–AML, with chemo and a Bone Marrow Transplant. He had his fertility checked and was told he was sterile. But miracle of miracles (and surprise of our lives), we now have three beautiful children. I know the pain of believing you’ll never have kids… I lived it. But I just wanted to let you know that there is the possibility of a miracle.

        Big hugs,
        Emily

  • SamiJ

    Too bad you can’t just counter with “When are you going to back to school?”
    (why? “Because you seem kinda stupid.”)
    Of course this would be wrong to say, but oh so satisfying.

    • LinB

      Oh, that would be such fun to say! But, you’re right, it might be the easy way, but it wouldn’t be The Cowboy Way. (Really big fan of Riders in the Sky and their 1990s children’s t.v. show.)

  • cecelia

    Similar genetic stock. Had it happen even at my thinnest (size 2 and newly married.) Now I have to constantly watch what I say- noticing odors? Must be pregnant. Taking vitamins? Must be pregnant. Skipping a drink with dinner? Must be pregnant.

  • http://www.blackandblondeone.com Lindsay

    This is such a good post. While I haven’t had any of these comments before, I have a friend that goes through this on a weekly basis. She has a health condition that makes her stomach protrude. She’s about a size 10/12, but she just has a larger belly. People need to be more sensitive and realize that not all bodies are made the same.

    • michaela

      I’m curious.What is your friend’s condition that makes her stomach protrude. My stomach also protrudes in a way that makes me look pregnant and I wonder if I could have the same problem.

  • Ericka

    Ugh. My first episode, I was 15 I think at a movie with my mother. This not very bright person standing in line behind us asked me point blank “When are you due?” I was horribly embarassed (a usual state for me as a fat teen, I usually wanted to be invisible always) and stated I was not pregnant. This person, who may have been drunk/high, proceeded to argue loudly with me that I was indeed pregnant. It was horrific. I left without seeing the movie, crying. I still get shaky thinking about that one. I have had a few other episodes but that was the craziest and most offensive; to argue with me was insane.

    My rule, if there’s no baby crowning, I ain’t asking. I have tried to get my dad to adopt this rule (he is baby obsessed) but he keeps asking. One of these days, I really hope he doesn’t get slapped. He does it all the time to any woman with any tummy at all. Ugh. Even if they were pregnant, it is none of your business unless they want to disclose it.

  • http://sidewalkchic.com joann, sidewalk chic

    When I was 19, I went out on a group date and our hibachi chef asked if I was pregnant and kept making a point on it. It was embarrassing and definitely made the rest of the dinner awkward because he was there through the whole dinner. I was a size 2 at the time and didn’t think I looked particularly pregnant, but it later made me dwell on my body and I spent a lot of time at the gym that summer.

    I try not to talk about women’s pregnancies to them unless I know for sure they are (and are willing to actually talk about it), because a) it’s really none of my business to inquire about what’s going on in their bodies and b) I could be totally wrong and embarrass us both. I think it probably sucks to be asked if you’re not, and it probably isn’t a lot of fun for it to be dwelled on if you are when people ask about your due date.

  • H.

    I make it a policy never to ask a woman if she is pregnant. If I suspect a friend or acquiantance might be pregnant, I’ll just ask “So what’s new with you?” =)

    I did make exceptions to the rule when I was pregnant myself. In my experience, if one pregnant woman comes across another in public, often they are both happy to discuss it with a perfect stranger, especially if they are both in the maternity store!

    I agree with previous posters that many people seem to consider the pregnant body public property and feel free to comment on it. When I was pregnant, I would hear “Wow, you’ve really popped!” and “You’re so tiny!” from one person in the same breath. Talk about a) none of your business and b) totally confusing. I found that older men (70+) were the worst offenders.

  • http://DestrehansDaughter.blogspot.com Sarah

    Someone once asked me at a wedding if I was the pregnant friend of the bride and groom. I was most definitely not the pregnant friend, and they were mortified. I felt awful and it was already a pretty trashtastic weekend. So, I have never done this because I know it’s not okay to even ask.

    I worry though that by saying you are fat you are presenting your body in a negative way. It totally depends on how you perceive the word but so many people do think of fat=bad. I would say that it’s the way your are built, that you’re body is different not bad. I learned to say that to myself in the last few years, and it helped me to deal with a lot of negativity around so much of dressing. I identify myself as plus size, large, and as having absolutely no waist to speak of, but I try not to think of myself as fat or my body as “wrong” just different.

  • Dee

    Oh yes, happened to me twice, which is actually not a lot,one was a 5 year old in the day care center — I never wore that skirt again. The second time was a neighbor, don’t have any idea why she asked – I had on a coat. However, I have always had a protruding belly – even when a size 10/12, UNTIL I got a tummy tuck!! I know I am lucky (at least I feel lucky) to have been able to have one — best thing I ever did (well, for my body anyway!). I have to admit I looked at my own mother who has a protruding large tummy and really just didnt want to go through life that way. Even the surgeon said my abdominal muscles were very stretched out and no excercise would flatten them. (I had had 2 babies by then as well.) My rule is to NEVER ask if a woman is pregnant until, and if, she confirms it. Having had it asked of me when I was not, I would not want to put any one through that feeling. I came the closest to really blowing it about 5 years ago – visiting a friend – she had an out of town friend visiting who looked at first glance to be 7-8 month pregnant — I was SO CLOSE to saying “oh wow when are you due?!” and I bit my tongue. Later I quietly asked my friend and she said “oh no she is not!” ( I was pretty sure the woman had a daughter in her late teens already so that put some doubt in the pregnacy possibility).

  • http://ejegmama.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    I’m sure people have but the only one I remember is a lady from the bridal shop when I was ordering a bridesmaids dress. She asked if I was sure when I told her know and I think she would have sent me to pee on a stick if she’d had one available.

    I’ve also had it go a bit the other way and that does not feel any better. When pregnant with dd I was larger to begin with probably about 210 or so to start and had some complications that lead to me coming out of pregnancy smaller then I went in. I ran into someone when dd was about 6 weeks old who couldn’t stop carrying on about how she never even knew I was pregnant. I know it was supposed to be a compliment but it did not make me feel good. Wow what a beautiful baby and mama would have been much better.

  • http://sensetosave.com Kacie

    I once made that horrible mistake — and it was after I had 2 kids and should know better! I was standing in the maxipad aisle with a woman, who to me looked due very soon.

    She was picking out postpartum pads, and I offered her some suggestions.

    I asked when she was due, and she had the baby a day or two prior. ACK!

    I felt so, so horrible. The last thing I wanted to do was to make a new mom feel like she looked bad. She didn’t. Her belly still looked round and firm, not deflated like mine did after birth, and she didn’t have her baby with her so that threw me off, too.

    Still. Oh man. I felt so bad. I apologized and got outta there fast, and vowed to never ask that question again!

    I think a safer question if someone wanted to be nosy, would be to maybe ask “do you have any kids?” because if she IS pregnant, she might use that as an opportunity to share that info if she wants.

  • LinB

    Yes, I was in 9th grade, and a girl who’d been caught stealing from me in 7th grade started a rumor that I was pregnant. Since she was who she was, thank goodness no one believed her! Years later, after I was married, I was barren (what a queerly old-fashioned term, that so perfectly describes the physical and emotional emptiness) for 7 years. Any mention of anyone else’s pregnancy was so, so painful, because I was not. I did not tell any of our parents when I finally was blessed with that state of being until month five, when I was pretty sure I’d carry to term. Now, when I see a woman who may or not be pregnant, I don’t say anything to her — just utter a silent prayer for her good health, either way.

  • Lady Di

    I’ve had it happen a few times. I tried to act confused the first few minutes and then follow with “that’s never a safe question”. IF it were to happen again I’d probably go for a “My uterus is none of your business!” approach, and then ask about their recent mammogram/prostate exam.

  • http://monkeyobsessions.blogspot.com alice

    I’m mostly shocked that so many people have experienced this, who are all these nosy people asking?? The thing is, even if you ARE pregnant, you might still be self conscious about your changing shape and might prefer to slip under the radar for a while longer. Or you might just be a shyer person and not enjoy the attention from people you don’t know. I usually just smile, hold open doors, give up my seat, etc. and give people their space.

  • Em

    I’ve had it happen a few times… the last time the person said ‘Congratulations!’ as we were starting our conversation, and for the first second I was confused why she would say that, then realized why and said, ‘Oh, for what?’ She tried so hard to recover from it!

    The first and probably most awkward time it happened to me was when I was thinner than I am now, but wearing a dress with an empire waist and pleating that definitely had a tendency to make me look pregnant when nothing else did. I was on the train I commuted on everyday, and was leaning back so I guess my stomach stuck out more. All of a sudden these two older (40s or 50s – I was in my early 20s) women sitting near me got up and offered me their seat – I kept saying, no, I’m really fine, but they insisted. I was so confused and it wasn’t until I sat down that I realized why. So embarrassing because everyone in that car, the one I always rode in, saw the exchange and would know the next day when I wore something else that I definitely wasn’t pregnant!

  • FRANCE

    MMM I think some people they just say thing that are not their busness, kind of to start a conversation, I dont think you have to answer baCK, just smile and keep your path. To me they asqued if my father was my partnet as we have so little differetn in age, people just were wondering if we were soul mates, whatever…love the post, and I THINK YOU LOOK WONDERFUL in the green color and the green bakcground of the house, xoxox

  • janey

    I happened to me too. My best friend at the time. I was about 35 and did not expect any more kids.

  • Rachel

    I’ve had that happen a couple of times with people trying to offer me their seat on the subway. Which is, of course, a supremely awkward position – they’re trying to do the right thing and offer their seat to a pregnant woman, but on the other hand we all agree you should never make any assumptions about people being pregnant! Maybe pregnant women should have badges “Yes, I am pregnant. Yes, I would love a seat”.

    • Elizabeth

      I did this a couple months ago – a crowded bus, in the middle of winter, and I was sitting, and in front of me holding uncomfortably on to one of those hanging handles was a woman I thought was pregnant. I hemmed and hawed for a moment but finally thought “to heck with it” and just went with my instinct, which was to get up and ask “would you like to sit down?” And she almost laughed with relief and said “oh, yes please!” and collapsed into my seat. We had a little chuckle together about how you never know whether you should ask… but I decided that whatever the case, to offer a seat to someone is never a bad thing. A person simply can say “no thank you” if they don’t want to sit down. I hope fear of offending someone won’t stop me from trying to do the right thing… And, why weren’t any of the comfortably seated men all around me standing up, I might ask? Sorry to be old fashioned, but I do wonder sometimes.

  • Louise

    I can think of three times this has happened to me off the top of my head but I know there are more. The most recent was running into a former co-worker who saw me and immediately said “Oh my gosh, you’re pregnant!” I said, “No, actually I’m not” and she proceeded to touch my stomach and insist that I was, like “Oh you can’t fool me!”. I repeated that no I REALLY wasn’t pregnant but I would be burning the dress I was wearing when I got home. She of course felt awful and I definitely let her stew in it – no “oh it’s ok”s from me. I have stopped wearing anything with empire waists. I don’t want these stupid statements to affect me, but unfortunately they really do – sending me straight back to junior high levels of self-consciousness. I am better at brushing it off than I used to be though and who knows maybe one day I will get really cutting and quit being the gracious one. Say, “Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m not pregnant and I didn’t ask for your opinion about the shape of my body.”

  • QuiteLight

    I have gotten this twice, and I’m not fat. I don’t even have much of a belly, just a little “girl-belly”, that nice rounded lower bit. But I’m tall, & long-limbed, and know how to dress my shape most days, so it doesn’t show much. I think if people can see ANY belly, it doesn’t suit what they THINK I look like (like fat + pretty, I guess) it MUST be pregnancy!

    What hurts here is when they say it in front of my fiancé. He cringes for me, but his heart breaks a little. He really wants more kids, & I don’t, as of yet, maybe ever. (I adore my step-daughter, though.) So each time he’s put through a little wringer. He tries to keep it from me, but I hate to see it.

    I told one woman it was inappropriate to guess. I said if I was & wanted her to know, I would have told her. Now I was just feeling self-conscious. She went into a long, awkward story about a friend of hers who’d died of a stomach tumor because no one had said anything. It was the worst cover-up attempt ever.

  • Laura

    What a great question: is is easier for people to see you as pretty and pregnant than as pretty and fat?

    • Stephani

      The answer is yes, absolutely. Because to all the brainwashed, simpled-minded, no-shades-of-gray morons out there, fat always = bad/lazy/unhealthy/drain on the healthcare system/unattractive/sexually neutral/ugly.
      If someone sees someone fat who they also think is pretty or attractive, the default is that that woman must be pregnant because fat women cannot also be beautiful. And there may be some totally unconcsious acknowledgement that a beautiful woman is necessarily going to attract a male partner, who will make her pregnant, because of her high reproductive value. Therefore: beautiful woman + fat = pregnant. Not: beautiful woman + fat = beautiful woman who happens to be fat. That math is just too complex for most people and it would require a much more open definition of beauty than is currently in operation in the larger culture.

      • http://www.mischiefmydear.com/dramatispersonae/ Ashe

        I love your comment so much, Stephani! Thank you.

  • Angela

    I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this post.

    I remember being concerned about my shape – particularly my belly – as early as age 6. Over twenty years later, I still turn sideways and stare at the protrusion. I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about how to shape clothing to mask my stomach. In the last several years, a handful of people have asked when I’m due, or congratulated me (to my initial confusion). Whether a size 8 or 14, my rotund tum has always been noticeable, and the pregnancy questions hit so many nerves – not just my own body image struggles (why is a flat tummy considered the standard for sexiness in our culture? Or is that just the media?), but my own painful brushes with near-pregnancies.

    Now, I can more often look in the mirror and smile at my belly, which does so much work for me, which remains a soft curve despite the hard lines drawn by life. But I still worry, I still calculate my diet, I still skip meals sometimes, and am scared of being asked yet again whether it’s a boy or a girl, because it’s neither, and for so many reasons, that breaks me down.

  • ClaraT

    I think clothes play a role (in addition to physique). If you have a rounded tummy and get asked this, you might think that people are commenting on your tummy (and maybe they are). But certain styles, notably empire-waist items, are more commonly worn by pregnant women. I’ve been asked twice (once 2 weeks after I gave birth and once when I wore a roomy empire-waist shirt)…and I’m pretty thin.

    This is not to excuse idiots who shouldn’t ask because (drum roll) it’s really none of their business.

  • http://sololisa.com Lisa

    Kudos for such a candid, well-written post, Ashe!

    Generally I refrain from commenting unless a woman is very obviously pregnant (i.e. in her last trimester).

  • http://fashionforgiants.blogspot.com Gracey at Fashion for Giants

    Oh, Ash. This has never happened to me (I carry my weight in my thighs) but I’m so angry that it’s happened to you. One, because, as you say, unless someone says they’re pregnant it should never be assumed they are. And two, because if someone is pregnant it’s none of your damn business when they’re due. At least in my humble opinion. Seriously, I just want to fight people who do things like this.

  • Moira

    I once mistakenly asked a woman if she was pregnant when she wasn’t — and it was HORRIFYING — but she had actually just given birth about a month before. She was wearing definite maternity wear and talking babies at the time, so it wasn’t this crazy out-of-left-field comment for me to make, but I still wanted to shrivel up and die. Luckily, she wasn’t offended and just laughed. But from now on I will never ask if a woman is pregnant unless — as Dave Barry once said — the baby is visibly emerging from her at that very moment.

    • Angela

      Dave Barry is so great! He always makes me laugh.

  • Pingback: Pregnant or fat? | The Space Emperor Cometh()

  • Ginger

    A gal in our office is a fairly large woman, and the first we knew she was expecting was when our supervisor notified us she’d be on materntiy leave the following month and would we consult with her boss to make sure we’d be covered during her absence.

    Whoooo. That was a surprise. If you are big and expecting, remember that some people won’t know unless you mention it!

  • http://dairyfreecakewalk.blogspot.com Norma Pennycuff

    I recently thought a very, very thin girl was pregnant. I was so sure (she has such a lean body build!) that I asked even though I know better. She had walked into a darkened room in a plum dress carrying a bag on the opposite side of her body, then turned a corner and sat. I mistook what she was carrying for the outline of a 9 month pregnancy belly. I’ve never been so embarrassed. And the anger in her eyes made me positive I would never, ever, ask her to visit again. As soon as she stood to leave I laughed at myself and said, “Oh! It was what you were carrying!” but still got an icy glare. It was an honest slip by a girl who has been accused of being pregnant a million times in my life. I think anyone can do it.

    Reading your post immediately made me question dietary concerns, such a gluten. At the height of my eating disorder I was 5’10 and 120lbs with a pooch. Always a belly. Always. Now I’m 55 lbs heavier and since figuring out that gluten is not my friend my clothing fits all strange. In just a few months. Even my husband has mentioned I’ve never had a stomach that small before. (We are open and honest, he was my friend through the eating disorder and my boyfriend/husband after I had a bit more control.) To this day I wonder why doctors don’t see thin limbed girls with round bellies and ask questions to determine if it needs further investigation. I feel like there’s more options than just “pregnant” or “fat” and it bothers me that they aren’t addressed.

  • Louisa

    When I was near term with a very big (nearly 10lb) baby the only person to offer me her seat in the bus was a mom with a small child. She obviously understood that I was unsteady on my feet!

    And yes, in my late 40’s I was asked if I was pregnant by an acquaintance. She was more embarrassed than I was when I told her that not only were my kids already in their 20’s but I’d had my tubes tied after the last one was born. Of course I never wore that outfit again. Sigh. I was nice that she actually thought I was younger though.

    I’ve always had a fluffy tummy even when I was young and weighed under 100lb. Now that I’m in my 60’s and somewhat heavier it’s even more prominent. I try to dress to minimize it but don’t obsess about it. I call it my Botticelli Belly. In the early Renaissance when he painted his lovely women, they all had round soft middles – just like mine!

    I’m convinced that the current obsession for flat stomachs over other shapes is just another marketing ploy. They want us to spend money on stuff to “fix” what we perceive as “wrong”. Sorry, I’m not buying into that. I’m healthy and fairly fit for my age. My husband thinks I’m attractive. Good enough for me. The older I get the less I care what other people think.

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      “I try to dress to minimize it but don’t obsess about it. I call it my Botticelli Belly. In the early Renaissance when he painted his lovely women, they all had round soft middles – just like mine! ”

      Yes! I’ve always related to those images as well… and it makes me see that a LOT of women relate to that. The fact is, we’re meant to have extra weight in our tummies for procreative purposes… but that doesn’t mean we’re all carrying all the time!

      “My husband thinks I’m attractive. Good enough for me. The older I get the less I care what other people think.” I love this so much. :)

  • St Pete Mom

    This has happened to me a few times… and yet when I lost a lot of weight after gastric bypass, then I got the “Are you sick?” questions. Can’t win… The most memorable time was a sweet nun who came to me all excited and said “Congratulations” and reached her hand to my belly. I felt bad that she would be embarrased when I said no. Instead I said “Oh you mean because my daughter made the honor roll? I am so proud of her.” The nun looked confused, but quickly recovered and we discussed my daughter’s accomplishment instead. I always felt good about that one.

  • DC

    A friend of mine was asked this a few years ago, and she was about a size 12-14 at the time. I suppose she does carry a decent portion of her weight in her belly, but I didn’t think she looked pregnant. What made it worse is that she had been trying desperately to get pregnant and was unable to. As someone who has suffered through the same infertility issues, I can imagine how she felt. I’ve never been fat or pregnant, but I have learned a LOT about what not to do or say when it comes to other people’s bodies, especially when it pertains to pregnancy. You should never ask a woman that. Not only is it rude, but it can do a lot of unseen damage.

  • Anna

    Ashe, what an excellent post, and you have given such gracious responses to the comments.

    Here’s a related issue from another point of view. Someone I have known for many years, who was chubby to begin with and has gradually become morbidly obese (really huge) lives at a distance and says early in every phone conversation, “I’m still fat” not in a sorrowful tone of voice but in what sounds like matter-of-fact resignation, like an observation on yesterday’s weather. I have never known what to say, so I’ve said nothing. No comment, certainly no advice or commiseration. I can add nothing to what she knows she has to do and/or is not able to do. But I wonder what kind of self-esteem deficiency or defensiveness causes her to make this statement every single time. Has anyone else run into this with a friend?

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      I haven’t run into it, but have you asked, “How does that make you feel? I ask because I’ve noticed you comment on it a few times…. I love you for you, not for what you weigh.” Maybe she wants to talk about it in more depth, or from a position that isn’t sad, but isn’t sure how to bring it up? That’s a really awkward position to be put in, and I’m sure that, to some degree, nothing you can or want to say will feel right…

  • Halo

    My mother is turning 60 soon, but people keep mistaking her for pregnant. She has a very round belly and she’s really self-conscious of it and it happens so often she has become very hesitant to go out in public. I admit to losing all sense of manners myself when this happens in front of me, and have been known to tell them that she’s in kidney failure (true) and that they are incredibly rude.

  • http://www.slimmingstylesecrets.com Slimming Style Secrets

    When I asked my husband about this he said, “A woman could be giving birth in front of me and I wouldn’t say anything unless she told me she was pregnant.” Funny and very good advice!

  • katrina

    I’ve thankfully never been on either end of this sort of conversation.
    However, my (male) friend Lindsay is about the only human I know on earth to mistake a woman for pregnant and make up for it without skipping a beat.
    When the woman responded “Oh, I’m not pregnant.” He responded “Oh! Honest mistake! you have such a beautiful glow!”
    Mind you, considering he dresses something like a flower child crossed with a cuddly biker, and exudes kindness out every pore, probably helps.

  • http://viktoriasbookshelf.blogspot.com Viktoria

    I have been assumed to be pregnant when I was not. I wasn´t even overweight, I just buttoned a small cardigan under my bust, had a striped t-shirt underneath, and bad posture. I just said “No, I´m just fat”, which was a bit embarassing for the lady, but not for me, since I really wasn´t.

    I have once assumed a woman was of large build, and when she refered to her soon being on leave, I asked “why?”. She looked at me funny and informed me she was due in three weeks!

    It´s sometimes hard to see, and however you deal with it, you can go wrong. All one can do is try to be polite and considerate.

    • Holly

      I did the same thing at a new job I started at Lucky supermarkets. The head baker was going on maternity leave and I asked, why are you going to take 9 weeks off? Since I did not know her before and she wore a large apron… Well she was Mortified! Quick recovery, I followed with, “oh, I thought the maternity leave was only 6 weeks here.”

  • http://kclanderson.com KCLAnderson (Karen)

    I have an uncanny ability to know when women are pregnant, sometimes even before they know (fat or not). I usually do not say anything, but one day, a few years ago, I ran into an acquaintance and for some reason I just blurted it out: “Are you pregnant?” She blushed and said, “no…I guess I’ve gained a little weight.” I was mortified and apologized. But guess what? Later that day she sent me an email and said “yes…I am pregnant, but we just found out and aren’t announcing it until after the first trimester.”

  • http://www.thecitizenrosebud.com Bella Q, The Citizen Rosebud

    LOL! I’ve actually used that line, many time, Ashe. Especially around 5 years ago- when my belly chub was more just the front of the belly and the rest of me was thin. I worked at a pre-school so got the “when’s the due date?” question all the time. Best was, at a thrift store the cashier asked me and was so mortified at my response “I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.” that I got 10% off my $100 purchases.

    People want to connect and babies do that to a community. I like your point though and feel its valid- why can’t we just accept a woman can be beautiful and chubby?

  • b.

    Oh man alive, this happens to me! I too have good skin and slender limbs, and I carry my weight on my tummy. As Dave Barry says, “Never ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless you can actually see a head emerging from her body!!”

    Being this shape has also made me realize that having a big midsection is one of the last taboos of fashion. Big hips, big tush, big boobs–there are select role models with each of these attributes. Big tummy? Not so much. Fashionistas talk about “surrendering the waistline,” as if it’s this big, big scary deal. Well, some of us don’t have a waistline to surrender.

    • BC

      “Big hips, big tush, big boobs–there are select role models with each of these attributes. Big tummy? Not so much.” Preach, sister.
      It’s like “Embrace the curves – as long as they are in the right places, girls!”

  • BeaGomez

    While unwelcome personal comments are always annoying, our abdomens aren’t living their own lives–we have more control over our bodies than we think. Saying that you’re from some ethnic stock is sort of meaningless-there are short Brits, tall, skinny Germans, and so on. Spot reducing never works, but working the core muscles results in better posture, which usually makes that “belly” look a lot smaller. I mean–look at the photo–it’s like it was posed to make her stomach look prominent.

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @ Ash in Fashion

      Bea, thanks for the insight– that’s EXACTLY WHY I chose that image– because my poor posture makes my stomach look so prominent. And I won’t lie and say my core is amazing– it needs work, and it’s something I have been actively working on.

    • Shaye

      What if it was? Is there something wrong with that? Maybe she actually doesn’t hate her body, fat and all.

      • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @ Ash in Fashion

        Thank you, Shaye, because you’re right– I DON’T hate my body. I spent too much of my life doing that. If I were to stay this size, but I were 100% healthy? I’d be okay with that. I’m working on the 100% healthy. We’ll see what my body looks like at that point… but regardless, my body is the only one I have, and I see no reason to spend my time hating it anymore!

        • Shaye

          I agree – I spent way too much time hating my body, and it was in much better shape then than it is now! I’ve decided to love my body, healthy or not, thin or not, because while both could be “better,” they could also both definitely be worse. Very few thin people are 100% healthy either – they just get a pass. I love that we are moving toward a place where we can separate health and weight, and admit that the one has not a lot to do with the other, so we can work on what will actually improve our lives and make us feel better, rather than trying to conform to some arbitrary standard.

    • scarlet

      Well, maybe. But I’ve never had much of a belly, and it isn’t because of any conscious decision I’ve made. I have a good diet and I exercise, but I do carry excess weight. It’s just not in my stomach for the most part. I have a tall and hourglass build so my weight distribution is even throughout my body, and particularly concentrated in the breasts and bottom. I don’t think my ethnicity relates to my build, particularly as my build is not endemic in my family, but my hormonal profile seems to have a lot to do with it. I have high estrogen and a very stereotypically female pattern of fat distribution.

  • KT

    When I was 15, I had clinical depression and gained a lot of weight. I didn’t go out or socialize much. If I did get out of the house, it was just to my female friends’ homes for a short time. Most of my time I spent on the couch in front of the TV with pizza and ice cream, being bratty and whiny and sour towards my mom as a typical depressed teenager might do.

    My oblivious but well-meaning mother noticed the weight gain and cornered me one afternoon, whispering “KT… KT honey…. are you PREGNANT? It’s ok, you can tell me if you are and we’ll talk about what to do. When I was pregnant with you, the hormones made me moody like you. What’s the boy’s name? Is it someone we know?”

    I was mortified and screamed “No, you’ve just made me FAT! Boys don’t even look at me, I’ve never even kissed one, because I’m FAT!” And of course ran to my room and slammed the door.

    Every month after that, my mom would ask me if I got my period, and I had to suffer through proving it to her. She couldn’t handle the truth.

    I was mortified

  • Frenchie

    The first time I got asked was at 13. I was mortified. Even as a child, I had a protrubing tummy. When I was 12, my mom bought me a girdle just like she wore for her tummy. I hated my tummy so much. I tried to exercise it off to no avail. I became anorexic living on just 1000 calories a day. Still the tummy persisted. I was 35 when I got a tummy tuck. Very few people in my life know. I’m glad I did it, but it didn’t erase any body issues. I think society needs to be more accepting and less judgemental of all bodies. We think the skinny girl doesn’t eat when she may have a ravenous appetite. We assume the fat girl eats junk food when she may watch every bite she takes. My wish would be for magazines to reflect the diversity of bodies we see each day.

  • Sarah

    It seems like every year one of my 8th graders asks me when I am due. Even though I’ve dropped 3 sizes since my daughter was born, my belly hasn’t gone away. Thankfully, the girls around the offender usually hush her, embarrassed at her faux pas.

  • Anonymous

    Early on in college I had someone ask if I was pregnant while I was shopping. I took it really hard at the time, but eventually got over it. The saddest thing is that I was around a size 4 at the time, so up until them I hadn’t really been too stressed about my weight.

  • Mary

    Totally been asked that twice. It is a little depressing.

  • http://none Tracy

    I HATE this comment. one man actually argued with me when I was working the service counter at a car dealership one time. um…dude, I think I’d know if I had a tenant. Unfortunately, or fortunately, really rude and out-of-the-blue comments leave me stunned and speechless sometimes. I’ve thought of really horrific retorts for the next person that blabbers their unwittingly rude face, but have yet to actually use one.

  • Mo

    Yup, was asked by a middle-aged gentleman while I was walking through the Minneapolis skyway. I was admittedly wearing a high-waisted top (which I have obviously subsequently burned) but it’s still *never* a good idea to ask that question unless a woman is crowning in front of you. The gentleman who asked me was simply walking through the skyway at the same time as me, and he looked over and asked when I was due. I said, “I’m not…but thanks for asking.” He looked shocked, and his younger co-worker who was walking with him was absolutely mortified. I definitely think he learned his lesson, and I felt like hell.

  • http://www.gritandglamour.com GRIT & GLAMOUR

    OH MY GAHHHHHHH. Ashe, I am MORTIFIED reading this. I cannot believe the utter stupidity and audacity of people! I am so angry for you. If I were standing beside you and some stupid cow made a comment like “tell me what you eat so it won’t happen to me,” you can bet your sweet a** I’d tell her the only thing she needs to eat is a big helping of some shut the hell up! GOD DANG!

    As much as I want to say I can’t believe the audacity, I can. On the pregnancy subject, people look at me like I have three heads when I say I don’t have children. Often, before I can say why I don’t have any, people assume it’s because I don’t want them. While it’s true that I’m childless by choice, how the hell do people know that it’s not some medical condition that has caused me to be barren? Which would make any comment about how I *need* a child would be so devastating. And anyway, I don’t NEED a child to validate my existence, but it’s the principal of the matter.

    When in doubt, go without. SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!

    xo

    • Elizabeth

      Hi there – I hear you. I used to get a lot of “so when are you two going to have children” and the truth is, I can’t have children… I wish I could but I can’t… 7 years trying… I used to day “oh, when the Lord provides” but people used to keep on with the conversation, stuff like “you need to start soon, biological clock, get going now, you won’t be young forever, bla bla bla…”

      But now I just say “I’m unable to have children” and people back off pretty quick. I feel a little harsh sometimes and sorry for embarrassing the person, but on the other hand, I hope they learned something about manners too.

      I know this is a little off-topic! Sorry for hijacking.

  • Shaye

    I’ve never been asked if I was pregnant because my body’s just not shaped that way – I’ve got junk in the trunk rather than much of a belly – but I have a very round face as the result of my weight. People are often shocked to find that I’m 33 – I get carded in earnest on a regular basis. A couple of times people have been so insistent that I’ve gotten frustrated and said something like, “It’s not baby fat, it’s just the regular kind.” What amazes me is that people will get offended when you call yourself fat! If I’m saying it, why should that offend them (unless it’s that I’m not properly shamed by my body).

    I’ve thought a lot about body shape privilege, and how it seems less transgressive for me to love my body the way it is because my fat is mostly in socially-acceptable places. If I call myself fat, I often get called out on it by people who insist I’m not, when – trust me, I am. And I’m mostly okay with that. But I struggle with the idea that maybe I’m only okay with it because people are, for example, probably not going to mistake me for pregnant. I’m glad to read your experience, as a person who’s “pretty and fat” and living fully present in your body. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story.

  • Emily I.

    My rule is to not ask if they don’t tell. However, when visiting an elderly uncle he related that he had recently asked a young woman at church if she was pregnant and was so embarassed he’d asked because she wasn’t. So that Sunday when I saw an old friend of mine at his congregation who looked incredibly 9 months, going into labor any second pregnant (and who never had looked like she was if she wasn’t, but then I hadn’t seen her in years…) I thought maybe she was the one my uncle had talked about. My friend thought it really odd I didn’t say anything about something so obvious going on in her life. (She was fine with it though.)

  • http://www.getfiercestyle.com MJ

    Wow, my jaw just dropped at those experiences you talked about! I could never just assume someone is pregnant by how they look (and you know what they say about people who assume!). I personally haven’t had that happen to me when I wasn’t pregnant but when I was, it was made worse by people thinking I was farther along than what I was (your body image is already messed up by pregnancy as it is!) People just need to learn the art of tactfulness.

  • http://none Heidi L.

    Dude,
    I feel your pain.People will ask if you’re pregnant because they’re asses with less manners than they should have.I have been asked that a few times when I was 5′ 6″ and 135 pounds…and then they have no shame when you tell them no.WTH?

    Heidi in L.A.

  • June

    For people with lightly protruding tummies (postpartum or not) and no known gastrointestinal concerns, consider the possibility of abdominal diastasis. I had a “lady belly” no matter what weight I was, even before having babies. After I had 2 pregnancies (the second one with twins with a combined weight at delivery of 14 lbs), my abdominal muscles were so slack, it was freaky, even 2 years after delivery. I got serious about the transverse abs exercises about a month ago and am finally seeing noticeable results (belly flattening) without losing weight. It’s nowhere near flat, but my stomach doesn’t stick out farther than my bust anymore, so I’m calling it a win!

    • michaela

      Can you please tell me more about ‘abdominal diastasis’? I never heard that term. Also what are transverse abs exercises? Maybe these would help me.

  • Brenda

    I get that all the time… Always have. Even when I did not have as much of a big belly… at least not enough that I’d have thought it would be an issue. My stomach doesn’t protrude as much as some women… I just carry my weight differently. But still I get mistaken for pregnant fairly consistently.

    Partly because I knit… I think that’s an action that a lot of people associate with pregnancy.

    I had a woman at a store once tell me “Oh, you must be *very* pregnant.” I was mortified. I’ve even had strangers reach out as if to touch me, when they ask.

    I don’t take it well. Sometimes I smile or laugh… it’s a nervous response to being uncomfortable. But generally I go home feeling terrible.

    I never broach the subject with anyone, even if I know that they are pregnant for sure… it’s none of my business. And I find the over familiarity people assume with pregnant women to be disturbing anyway.

  • http://experimentalwifery.com Alison Solove @ExperimentalWifery

    I just wanted to say a word in defense of the insensitive people who ask overweight women if they’re pregnant. I put on more than 50 pounds when I was pregnant, but, on my short and petite frame, it was obvious that I was carrying a LOT of baby. (At 4 months I already looked like I was carrying a basketball under my shirt. That’s what happens when you marry a man who is a foot and a half taller than you.)

    I longed for the attention and help from strangers that pregnant women always talk about. But no one asked when the baby was due. No one tried to touch my tummy. No one opened doors. I even got glared out and chewed out for using the handicapped bathroom when I was too big to fit the regular stall comfortably.

    It wasn’t until I was two full weeks overdue that any stranger mentioned the elephant in the room–namely me.

    I suffered from severe perinatal depression. (Did you know it’s not normal for pregnant women to fantacize about jumping in front of busses? I didn’t.) A little extra love, support, and attention would have made a world of difference. But in suburban Washington, DC a woman’s pregnant status is entirely her own business and special treatment seems to be taboo.

    I have so much sympathy for women who are treated rudely because of their weight. And I guess we all can use the same love, support, and attention I craved–even if we aren’t pregnant. But surely there is a middle ground between protecting women from hurtful comments and foregoing positive feedback for pregnant women entirely.

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      Alison, I spent several years outside of DC, and I feel like that mindset for everyone is they’re too politically correct for their own good. Which has its perks, but as you pointed out–definitely has its downside!

      “But surely there is a middle ground between protecting women from hurtful comments and foregoing positive feedback for pregnant women entirely.” I definitely think there is– it seems like from many of the comments, I’d argue: open doors for people, not just a woman who looks pregnant. Offer up a seat out of courtesy, but not add in a “Well, it’s because you’re…”

      Basically– having good manners and a helpful attitude towards others, but keeping the lips zipped (esp if you’re a total stranger)!

      • michaela

        Alison, the moral of the story here is that the responsibility is on YOU to SHARE the information that you are pregnant–not for people to ask you. There are a million ways that you could have indirectly referred to your pregnancy and the impending birth of a child.

  • Shiloh

    I’ve been there. Thank you for your insight and bravery to accept yourself. I remember I was on my honeymoon, and my massage therapist cooed and asked when I was due. I was mortified. I’ve learned that empire waists on me get that response. Oh well. It’s my body and it will always look this way no matter how “skinny” I am.

  • Allison

    Loved this post.

    I’ve been asked this sooooo many times. At least 15 times, at all different weights. Most memorably, in front of a table of colleagues at a professional conference. I no longer wear empire anything: big boobs + short waist + empire styles = I look pregnant. Oddly, both times I was pregnant I happened to be a person who gained very little weight. I just kept it all in my belly for years and years after delivering the babies. My most recent episode was after losing almost 20 pounds and trying out a new style. The mom at my kid’s school who asked was obviously embarrassed, but made it worse by bringing it up for several days in a row afterward and going on and on about how it was just a terrible outfit for me. Ack.

    • michaela

      A lot of people have mentioned being asked if they were pregnant when they were wearing an empire style dress or top. I have never even worn this style since I am certain people would think I was pregant. My problem is that no matter what I wear I look pregnant. That’s what is so discouraging.

  • Sherri

    I work with the public and I get it all the time. They have no censor. I’m used to it even if I don’t like it. It’s happened pretty regularly since high school but it especially hurt when I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks and people were asking. I of course would retort something back to the effect of “No but thanks for reminding me of the baby I just lost.” I am currently 8 months pregnant and had a patron ask me last month “are you pregnant? I wasn’t sure.” I flipped out and in a shrill voice replied “then you shouldn’t be asking!!”

  • http://sevenlies.net Karen

    Hey Ash! Came over here from your blog. You and I must be of very similar build, because I’ve had the same question asked a few times. (And that woman in Joann’s – WTF. How rude can you be?) Like pretty much everyone says, the guideline is pretty much that unless she specifically states that she’s pregnant – DON’T ASSUME!

  • Michelle

    Ashley, you are much more tolerant than I! That elderly woman in the store, I would have let her have it. That’s not a dig at you, saying you did anything wrong. That’s me being so fed up with this personally.

    This topic gets my blood boiling, I have had many issues with this and comments on my weight. As a 12 year old, my gym teacher told me I was getting fat. I was a dancer and did some gymnastics, but this wasn’t a career path or anything. Why she felt the need do this, I don’t know besides being mean. I look back at the pictures from that time and see that I was normal, even thin, totally flat stomach. From that moment on, I have had issues with body image and self esteem. I labeled myself as fat and hated myself. So much time and energy wasted on that and setting me up for a lifetime of struggle. I haven’t been diagnosed, but I’m pretty sure I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I’m always surprised or shocked at how I look in pictures. At this point, I look at photos and don’t even recognize myself.

    I did end up gaining weight in high school, and have gained weight nearly every one of the 23 years since I graduated. It was constantly remarked on. I’ve had people shout at me from cars and others who would just remark to my face. A guy walked up to me in a bar and pointed to my lower abdomen and said “you may want to start doing some sit ups.” I have very pale skin and heard a friends boyfriend comment that my legs looked like big uncooked sausages. It goes on an on. I’ve heard plenty about the cellulite on my thighs. My “best friend’ laughed when her 3 kids on separate occasions made comments to me. She never once talked to them about how terrible it is to comment on one’s appearance and how you wouldn’t want to be judged on yours. People are very cruel. They want to shame you and make you feel worthless.

    The pregnancy questions started when I was 24. I’m fairly proportioned in terms of weight, so I never understood why people thought I was. Anyway, I was just so embarrassed and ashamed, I just said I wasn’t pregnant and found a place to cry and beat myself up. Then I moved onto joking, saying “nope, just fat” which does tend to make people uncomfortable, which I hate to admit, made me feel better. Now I’ve moved on to becoming very intolerant of it and downright rude. I know it’s wrong to come back with something equally as obnoxious about them, but I try to. To make it clear to them that what they have done is unacceptable.

    I know I’m coming across as very angry, I am. My weight or pregnancy (I have never been pregnant btw) status is of no one’s concern by my own.

  • Gigi

    Wow, this really touched me…I’ve been gaining weight steadily over the past 4 years after being diagnosed with a certain condition, the medication for which causes weight gain in pretty much 99% of people. No matter what I eat or how much I exercise, I’ve just gained weight. It sucks. But it didn’t really hit me until I ran into someone who hadn’t seen or talked to me in a year who said, “Oh my God, I didn’t know you were pregnant!” I immediately went home and tossed the dress I was wearing into the ‘donate’ pile. But I can still feel how hot my cheeks got. I’m not even *that* big (yet). I’m 5ft 2in, and 154 lbs (on a good day). Most of it is in the bottom half of my body. Someone at the grocery store told me I need more ‘will power.’ I don’t know why some people, strangers even, feel like they have the right to comment on others’ bodies. I’d rather be healthy than thin. I’m sitting here in tears typing, because I know I’m not going to lose the weight, and I know people are saying the medicine is an excuse behind my back, but it’s not. It’s a physiological fact. I’ve been on 1200 calorie diets, gone to the gym every day, and still, there it is, 5 more pounds. I’m glad I stumbled over this article, because I guess I really needed to vent. People suck.

  • Jaime

    Been there. My favorite was the woman who gave me an indignant “Don’t do that to me!” like I was just pretending not to be pregnant to make her feel bad. I’m also Irish/German/English, with most of my weight in my hips and belly. I get asked when I’m due at least once every few months, and people often act like I’m the jerk when I tell them I’m not pregnant and feel justified in making snarky comments about my weight.

  • Deborah

    Thank-you.
    I now have the option of simply responding, “No, I have a belly” and then go about my business.
    Thank-you.

    And, no, while one of my weird things is being able to tell when someone is pregnant, I do not comment on it. If someone wants to tell me she is pregnant, great. If she is celebrating, I will celebrate with her.

  • scarlet

    I’m flabbergasted at the comments directed at you because I’ve been pregnant, and, in the course of nine months, only one stranger referenced my pregnancy to me outside of the OB-GYN waiting room. I mean, no one remarked on it at all. And I am the type of person who usually receives unsolicited comments on her looks, so it was almost like there was this taboo about commenting on something as personal as pregnancy. People feel free say things about my skin tone, eye color, hair color, facial features, height, clothing, and build, but, really, only once was I asked when the baby was due.

  • Moggie

    This happens to me a lot when I wear empire waisted tunics (which are my favorite). And I’m a US size 10. I’m not actually bothered by it. I just say, very casually, “No, I’m just fat.” It’s the people who ask that become embarrassed, not me.

  • Moggie

    And by the way, there is an other side to this issue. What has actually happened to me personally, several times, is that I was considered rude/stupid/unobservant, because I actually failed to recognize that my acquaintance/friend was pregnant. It’s as if it was understood that pregnancy is something so obvious and radiating that it should be recognized from the very early stages and people who don’t are very deficient indeed.

  • Klara

    Dear Ashley, in the Czech republic where I live, we have a way how to treat pregnant, old or disabled people – you just stand up and offer them your seat in public transport or something like this.
    It is really emabaresing, if someone is offering you the seat, you can not be rude, you can not be angry, because they are so nice and offer it. I have passed my school yesterday so I will have more time for excersice… Looking forward. And hoping not to be fat any more.

  • R.H.

    This has been happening to me since my late 20s (I am almost 40 now). At first it upset me, then it made me angry. Now it just makes me feel sorry for the person who is too socially inept to have a filter. Filtering before you speak can save a lot of embarrassment.

    No one who has commented here should feel bad about the way she looks. Some of us gain weight in our bellies. Some of us (like me) have tilted pelvises and arched backs. There are ways to dress to minimize this, but it is what it is. I know I can do my part by working a little harder to strengthen my core muscles and try standing with a different posture.

    Zen as I may be about this now, I can’t lie and say I don’t imagine good comebacks. One of these days when someone says “Are you pregnant?” I’ll say “No, are you?” Even if the woman in question is 80.

  • http://marcymakes.blogspot.com Marcy

    Wow, obviously a common point of concern.

    I carry my weigh the same way and I haven’t been directly asked – rather a rumor was going around the office. As a woman in a male-dominated field that was not welcome or entertaining.

  • sammi

    i’m 22, turning 23 next week. it’s somehow a relief to read all the comments about other women going through the same situations.

    i still get very embarrassed when people ask me if i’m pregnant. when i tell them i am not, they have the nerve to just ask, “oh well, when are you going to have babies?!” scuse me. i might not be interested in having kids.

  • http://made-to-travel.com Jamillah

    oh my gawsh, i am embarrassed for all these people. honestly, i think that’s such a bold assumption and i hope they learned a lesson from their experience with you to never make that assumption again.

    i’ve never been told i look pregnant but i have on numerous occasions been asked if i speak english on the streets of ny and while it’s not the same i think it kind of stems from the the same narrow view of what a person looks like.

  • http://thisiscoolbeans.wordpress.com Cool Beans

    I don’t know how you are so calm and stoic. Well done! I always get so offended when friends or colleagues tell me about these stories happening to them. I’ve had a couple comments like this just because I get really bloated sometimes, but I know it’ll go away so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings, more just makes me incredibly indignant that people think they have a right to comment on other people’s bodies. And even if I was pregnant, maybe I’m not ready to tell people about it (because even bloated I at most look like 2-3 months pregnant), or maybe I just don’t want to talk to you about it because you’re a complete stranger! I actually had a friend who had someone reach out and touch their stomach, thinking they were pregnant! When the person realised they were fat, they were so embarrassed and like recoiled from them, but isn’t just reaching out and touching someone’s stomach/unborn child without their permission a little embarrassing and hugely inappropriate too?! I just find it so shocking – both the responses to fatness and the rampant commenting/touching up on pregnant people that is somehow acceptable in our society, but is suddenly considered rude/harrassment/gross when you are just fat. Pregnant women aren’t public property or zoo animals, people.

    Anyway, that’s sort of separate from the fat issue, but it is something I would dread if I were to become pregnant.

  • Jen

    Yup, it’s happened several times in my life. I was more embarrassed when I was younger. One time, though, I did use it to get some extra help from the guys at Hertz rental with loading the dolly on my moving truck. I think they were horrified that my husband sent his pregnant wife off to get the moving truck. They asked me if it was a boy or girl, and I chose my favorite, “Girl!” In that case, I was wearing an empire waist dress. It’s also happened when I was wearing regular clothes that were perhaps a bit tight. Now, in my 40’s, I love my belly, and I don’t really care if someone thinks I’m pregnant. I’m spreading the gospel of liking my belly.

  • http://www.modishmaracas.com Sophie

    The best comeback to “are you pregnant?” is “No, but the night is still young!”

    • http://www.mischiefmydear.com Ashe @ Ash in Fashion

      I love this, Sophie! I’m going to have to remember it for the the future.

  • toria

    yeah this happens to me quite ofter i’m quite fat and it all goes to my stomach. i think the most emaressing time has to be when i was on a bus with all my friends and a man offered me his seat and asked when i was due which i replyed that i wasn’t i was just fat i have never been so emabaressed in my whole life : /

  • Erin

    Since I was 14 (I’m 29 now), I’ve had issues with my body image. My weight has fluctuated drastically due to medications for depression. When I was a size 4, I thought I was fat. I’m currently a size 16, and I think I’m fat. Through therapy and my loving husband, I’m s l o w l y starting to accept that the problem isn’t my body, it’s my thoughts.

    But anyway, my embarrassing ‘when are you due?’ moment came when I was a size 6 and wearing a flowy peasant top. The lady immediately felt bad, but I was mortified, especially since it was in the presence of my size 0 best friend. My friend sweetly stepped in and said, “It’s not fair, is it? Some women always have great boobs!” I was so grateful to her for lightening the situation and taking the emphasis off my weight and redirecting it to a part of my body I’m proud of. :)

  • nanna

    Lol. ALSO German and Irish in descent. ALSO “Apple shaped”.I totally understand although, at 52, no one assumes I’m pregnant anymore. I’m glad you’ve worked through to a response that satisfies you. Some people’s kids…..

  • Miz Julie

    First time I had that encounter was when I was about 20…my friend and I were coming out of a pizza parlor and a guy on his way in smiled and said “Guess who’s having a baby!!” (Um…who?) Then my friend laughed uncomfortably and said “Weird, cuz you’re a virgin.” (Thanks for reminding me.)

    Nowadays I’m even softer around the middle. (Firm muscles under a cushy layer of fat, thanks for asking!) I wear maternity tops because they’re flattering on me. But people stopped asking. Not sure why…

  • Ann

    This happens to a friend of mine ALL.THE.TIME. She has been a size 16 and a size 8 and it has happened to her. I think when she was bigger, she felt that it was that she was just fat, but her and I both lost a lot of weight years ago on Weight Watchers and have been able to keep it off. We have both been pregnant and both went back to sizes 8-10 again. Thing is, even at an 8, people still ask if she is pregnant. It is just her body shape. Her belly to boobs to waste ratio or something. I have a ton of dresses that look amazing on me, but if she puts them on, people will ask when she is due (and the dresses that look amazing on her do not flatter me at all). I think it is the cut that works for me vs the cut that works for her. Even though she is totally fit, has slim arms and legs and great curves, she still has that belly shape. I think it looks good on her (soft and sexy), but in certain clothes, yeah, she could be 5 months or so along. She used to get mad, but now I think she lets it roll off her back. She thinks the people who ask are jerks for sure (because you shouldn’t ask) but I don’t think it makes her feel bad about her body. Maybe bad about the top or dress she is wearing though. I know of one of her shirts that ended up at Goodwill because of a comment like that.

  • Lacey

    I love your dress in that photo!

  • Heather Stevens

    After reading all these comments, what strikes me is how much people mind being thought of as fat. The real issue here is the stigma attached with being overweight. What’s wrong with not being stick thin? Why are we mortified at the idea of being considered fat? Why do we care what total strangers think?

  • Faye

    I am so tired of this myself, it really bothers me that people are so shallow. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some flab. I’ve never been thin, there is nothing wrong with thing women but I love my fluffy 185lb body. I encountered a very rude woman at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago I had my two children with me, I stand about 5’2″ I have very tiny legs, small breast, tiny arms but a belly, my children were very large at birth and stretched my skin beyond measure plus I have an umbilical hernia so my gut pooches. This lady says to me (she worked there by the way) “So when are you due?” I said “I’m not” she said “are you sure?” I said “lady I’m 39 years old do you think I wouldn’t know?” she then says “well you look very pregnant to me” I am a bot blooded southern gal with a lot of Irani and Native American blood, so by this point it was boiling……. I cut her with my words “you obviously were raised by morons because that is not the way you speak to other human beings, especially customers, you’re pushing yourself to get fired be want me to call corporate and complain about you La’Tisha?” Nothing else was said, I paid for my groceries and I left but I cried when I reached the van.

    • Ashe

      Oh Faye, I’m so sorry! Some people really, really just don’t know when to stop. I wish more remembered the “If you can’t say something nice..” motto.

      • Ellie

        That’s horrible. I’m sorry that happened to you : /

        People can be idiots and really cruel. This wasn’t a mistaken pregnancy remark, but I think the story is still relevant,

        Once I was in an elevator and a man came in. On the ride up he looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’ve just lost 100lbs and am feelings so great right now”. I awkwardly smiled back and said, “that’s fantastic”. Small talk in elevators with strangers makes me really uncomfortable in general, so I tried to just be nice and get it over with, even though I thought the comment was a bit strange. He then looks me up and down and says, “yeah, you know you should take a lesson from me, you’re pretty, but you could be really beautiful, I mean a real fox if you lost 60lbs or so”, then the elevator rang and he got out. I was crushed. Some random dude basically just told me that I was fat and that I could only ever be beautiful if I lost weight. It didn’t even occur to me to be pissed off until much later, I was just so distraught that I had to go cry in the bathroom stall. Why would anyone ever think it’s ok to make a comment like this to a stranger (or anyone)? I was 20 years old and about six sizes smaller than I am now (was around a size 10, now I’m a 16 – I’m 5’8 btw)and I still think about that when I think about my body. Why does beautiful have to mean skinny? I can understand to a degree trying to “help” someone since he was able to loose weight himself, but A) I don’t see how that’s any of his business to begin with and B) how anyone who has ever been fat or had any kind of body issues would think that a comment like that would ever have any kind of positive effect on a woman…. I hate people sometimes.

  • Dawn

    I’ve been asked many times if I was pregnant, so I now try not to wear anything that makes it worse. (I once had an argument with an amusement ride operator about whether I was pregnant or not. He wouldn’t let me on the ride until I had repeated at least half a dozen times that I KNEW I wasn’t pregnant.) I work out regularly but I’m still a size 18. I’ve often had to fight with medical personnel about whether I’d feel better if I just worked out more. They don’t call me a liar to my face, but they never accept that I DO exercise, and I DO keep track so I know how much. I wish I had a good answer to shut THEM up.

    • Rachel

      Ugh! I just commented about the very same scenario at an amusement park! People are such idiots and so arrogant! I wish I had an answer fore you about the working out thing. :(

  • Hiedi Sheather
  • Amanda Zeitler

    A few years back I was visiting a friend who had just had a baby. I was waiting my turn to go into the nursery to see the little darling when I was asked: “Do you need in to see your baby?” by a nurse, “When are you do?” by a new dad, and “Did you have 1 or twins?” by a couple. It was a horrifying moment where, as a person who had recently just come to terms with the fact that I would never see size 8 again (at a size 16 to 18), I began doubting myself and my own body. People really need to think before they speak, and when in doubt stifle it.

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  • Kristen

    I wouldn’t comment on it even if it was obvious that she actually was pregnant. Because I mean, what if she’s not happy about being pregnant? What if her husband or boyfriend has left her and now she doesn’t know what to do? What if she’s actually miscarried but she has to wait to deliver the baby’s body? There are a number of reasons that it’s just not polite (and frankly, pretty stupid) to comment on something like that to a total stranger. It’s not social, it’s not cute, it’s just weird. And there are too many scenarios in which it would be very painful to talk about it, so it’s probably best to just keep your mouth shut, IMHO.

    • Ellie

      ^ I agree

  • Dolly

    Okay, I shouldn’t bring this down worse than it already is, because this is obviously such a hurtful and emotional topic for so many, but about 7 yrs ago I got really sick with cancer and the doctors found an 8 pound sarcoma in my abdomen. I was given a terminal diagnosis. But they didn’t surgically remove the tumour immediately (because there were really bad problems with that too — the tumour had consumed a lot of the organ tissue surrounding it, etc and they didn’t think I would survive the surgery) so they tried to shrink the tumour a bit with chemo first cuz it was strangling my abdominal aorta. So for a couple months I had to walk around with this 8 pound tumour in my belly while I was on the chemo and I totally looked pregnant. When people would ask when I was due or congratulated me on my pregnancy, I didn’t know what to say. If I had said, “Actually I have terminal cancer and a tumour the size of a goddamn pumpkin” that would makes things bloody awkward. Ha! So I just said nothing, and carried a really big purse across my body. Then the chemo didn’t reduce the tumour size at all, so I had to have a bunch of surgeries, removed my small intestines, my pylorus, part of my pancreas and liver, etc. After the surgery I was in hospital for a couple months and I after I finally got out, this friend of mine said,”You sure have a lot of hair for somebody who is supposed to have cancer.” I wanted to say, “You sure have a lot of teeth for somebody who just got punched in the mouth.” Here it is about 7 yrs later and I still wish I had said it!! Ha!

    Oh, and get this…. the first time I went to the doctor complaining that I had a big lump in my belly, the doctor told me I was just fat. I felt so stupid, I went running that night trying to lose the weight (I had been a regular runner) and I felt like I was going to die. So I went back to the doctor a week later, convinced I had a big lump in my belly, and they found the 8 pound tumour with an emergency ct scan the very next day. Imagine if I hadn’t gone back cuz I was so embarrassed. Bananas!

  • Rachel

    When I was 7 months pregnant, a skinny woman said that she “had no idea that I was pregnant”. I thought it was obvious, but maybe not. I put weight on all over evenly, so I don’t have just the prominent belly. I thought that that was pretty rude.

    • Aurora

      Maybe she was trying to compliment you in an awkward way? As if it wasn’t obvious that you were pregnant. But anyway, I wish people would just keep their comments to themselves when someone is pregnant. =/

  • Julie

    I have 3 kids – 2 boys and a baby girl that I had in March 2012. I’ve finally been feeling better about my body, after all, I did just lose 25+ lbs in the past few months and am fitting into all my pre-pregnancy clothes. I’m 5’8″, 155lbs – my goal weight. Well this morning as I’m walking into a work, a security guard walks over to say hi and then says “do you know what you’re having?”. I just responded with, “I’m not pregnant, I had my baby last year”. He said “I’m sorry” and looked confused! I couldn’t believe it!!! I have a pooch from 3 large babies (8lbs, 4oz; 9lbs, 12oz; 10lbs, 2oz), but come on! I hope he learned a lesson…idiot!

  • Aurora

    I’m just going to get a corset, damn it! lol

  • Sissy

    I’ve never asked anyone that and I’ve only been asked (once) when I actually was. The woman asking admitted she wasn’t sure so I have no idea what made her think it was okay to ask. Maybe I should have told her no just to teach her a lesson.

    When I was 8 or 9 months along with my first my mother in law suggested that I might not want to be wearing the top I had on because the horizontal stripes weren’t thinning and did nothing to hide my belly. I’m still confused by this comment. I was carrying an almost 10 lb baby and he had room in there to spare (he was doing gymnastics right up to the end). I had no intention of trying to hide my pregnant belly. I was quite proud of it and loved showing it off. Apparently people like my mother in law think that a woman should be nine months along AND thin as a rail with a flat tummy. Apparently it’s not okay to look pregnant whether you are or not because it suggest that you MIGHT be fat, which of course is unacceptable.

    I’m 16 weeks along right now and my boss keeps reassuring me that I’m not showing at all yet when I know I am. Other people (all of whom have been told directly by me that I am expecting) have no problem pointing out the obvious. My boss, like my MIL, just seems to think it’s never okay to not be a stick figure and assumes she’ll hurt my feelings if she’s honest.

    Knowing that there are people out there like my boss and my MIL who have such extremely unreasonable standards for weight/body shape just makes me inclined to be more self conscious in general. I get the feeling my boss is trying to be nice and assure me that I don’t look unattractive, but honestly, I don’t feel like I need a flat stomach for that.

  • Theresa

    I have, on at least two occasions, offered my seat on the train to a woman whom I thought was pregnant but turned out to be fat. The first incident left both of us mortified. The second lady accepted the seat but from the laughter and language (they were speaking a foreign language but I understood a few words) I realised that she wasn’t pregnant. Oops!

  • Amy

    Someone just asked me that today. And a few months ago. And a year ago. And when I was in college and a size 11 (I’m up to a 16 now.)

    My attitude has changed though it still hurts when I’m asked that. I jus wish people would stop asking because it is embarrassing and frustrating. I will always have a belly. That’s my body.

    That constancy question of pregnancy is making me hate myself.

  • Gabriele

    Hi! Thanks so much for this comforting and warm-hearted article. I was just asked whether I was pregnant today and, just as you, I’ve been asked the question several times in my life, independent of whether I was a 10/12 or a 14 at that time! If I may ask: I was wondering about the gorgeous picture with the beautiful big woman at the top of the page. It’s a lovely pic with a lovely woman on it!

  • Jane F. Mortified

    I just made the mistake of asking a woman when she was due, only to find out she was not pregnant. I had someone tell me, 7 years ago, a couple months after I had a baby, that she thought I was pregnant again–and I remember feeling really insulted! For that reason, I’m usually very cautious when it comes to this matter, but obviously not cautious enough. I immediately apologized and said something about the fabric of the shirt or something, which I’m sure was not helpful at all! Anyway, I just want to apologize on behalf of anyone that’s made this mistake while trying to make small talk! And now, I will re-insert my foot firmly back into my mouth.

  • A

    When I was 135 wearing a size 7, people would ask me if I was pregnant. Now I’ve had two kids and I’m a size 12 now, so I get it even more often now. What depresses me the most is thinking even if I lost all the weight I’ve gained, people still thought I was fat beforehand, so what does it matter?

  • Chubby

    This just happened to me!!! I’m mortified and I’m tears. I’m standing at the train station and this lady walks up to me with a gigantic smile and says “Your pregnant!!! I bet it’s a boy!? Is it?” I thought I heard her wrong and she was talking about my purse or something, and I said “what??” all confused. She then looked at my stomach and said “Are you pregnant?”….. I look down and my belly and say “ohhh…. No…..” And kind of slump my shoulders, jump on the train, head to the back and now I’m upset. The thing is…. I’m 5’6″ and 135lbs…

  • michaela

    Someone just mistakenly inferred that I was pregnant and I still haven’t gotten over the mortification. I wasn’t sure what to say, I just stammered something like “no, no, that’s just the way my body is…’ This has happened to me several times in the last few years and I everytime it happens I feel devastated. It leaves me feeling so crestfallen that it takes me days to recover. Part of what makes it so moritfying is that I am 50 YEARS OLD. 50 YEARS. What the hell. It is really embaressing. And these are not strangers, they are colleagues. Ironically I thought I was wearing a really pretty dress today. Because I have been unhappy with my weight gain, I have been trying to feel better by fixing my hair nicely, wearing making-up and high heels and getting clothes that fit me appropriately–not too tight, or too loose. Well, so much for trying to spiff myself up.

  • Htowngirl

    This just happened to me today and I’m 54 years old (with a meno-pot)! I was standing in an elevator bank with co -workers and our HR director comes up to me and says, I wasn’t told and I said, “told what?, and she says, “you tell me” and is looking at my stomach! I must have given her a glare because she immediately starts stammering and changing the subject. I was meeting a friend for lunch and it completely ruined it for me. On the way back I run into someone else from the office and he says, “how’s everything progressing”, and I’m thinking, shit, twice in one day? Then when I asked him what he was referring to, he mentioned the Windows migration and I was so relieved! I guess I should be flattered that I still look young enough to be pregnant, but mostly I’m very self conscious.

  • Rachel

    I just took to Google because I just got called pregnant for at least the 10th time within the last five years and I’m about to have a breakdown! The jerk had the audacity to tell me he didn’t believe me! Really, because it isn’t rude enough that you just made very personal assumption about me, now you have to go on to display your utter disbelief now hurting my feeling for a second time. Ugh! And believe it or not this is actually the second time someone argued with me about it. The first was when at the carnival with my daughters, in line for the merry-go-round. It was our turn and the “Carnie” told me I wasn’t allowed to ride because of being pregnant. I insisted that I wasn’t pregnant like four times before he would actually let me ride. Ugh! How embarrassing! I’m pretty sure it’s not in his job description to MONITOR THE LINE FOR PREGNANT PEOPLE, hence the reason why there is a sign posted that they can’t ride! I just can’t believe some people. I’ve been called pregnant by my dentist, a distant relative, my grandma, a co-worker, the “Carnie”, a customer, oh I can’t even remember all of them now. The thing is I don’t really feel very fat. My face, arms, and legs are pretty slim. But I have a flat chest and no hips so that doesn’t really help the situation. I always follow the rule of unless they tell me themselves I assume they are not pregnant. I know I probably sound pretty bitter, but I’m fresh off of being called pregnant and not everyone is as secure with their body to be able to just blow it off. And the fact that most people don’t even question it, aren’t hesitant at all, they just make comments like they are 100% sure. It makes me wonder how many people think I’m pregnant that don’t even say anything. :(

    • Ellie

      I feel your pain. Even thinking about people asking me if I’m pregnant still hurts my feelings and pisses me off. I definitely don’t think anyone should EVER ask someone that unless there’s a baby coming out of them or the person in question has told you that they are indeed pregnant. Most of us aren’t completely secure with our bodies, so you’re not alone.

  • debbie

    This just happened to me for the first time today I was completely mortified and it was in front of my boyfriend. ..at petco a old not skinny at all herself lady asks my boyfriend when are you due? And I quickly said no. That was the scariest most painful thing since I’ve been trying so has to loose the weight and having lost 40 lbs already I was starting to feel better about myself but sadly now I feel horrified!!!!

  • Wilber Sok

    When they ask when your due ask if they want to contribute 10.00 for the baby.

  • Ellie

    This has happened to me as well.
    I am currently the heaviest I’ve ever been and I carry a lot of the weight in my stomach. Shortly after I was married, I met some of my husband’s relatives for the first time and his grandmother asked me (in front of everyone at dinner) if we were expecting. I was mortified. I acted cool though and smiled and said, “no” politely and calmly tried to move the conversation along. I was dying inside, but didn’t want to further embarrass myself in front of everyone by curling up into a ball and crying (I figured I could do that alone later). The night progressed and I tried my best not to be awkward, but then I got a terrible headache and asked my husband to get me some advil. We were still entertaining, and right before he handed me the bottle of meds he looked at it and said, “are you sure you’re not pregnant, because you can’t have these if you are”, then laughed his head off and threw me the bottle. That’s when I broke down. He immediately knew that his “joke” wasn’t even a tiny bit funny. He began apologizing, but I was already beyond humiliation and told him to leave me alone. I felt like the horror and pain I had felt earlier that night had been multiplied by a million. It was honestly one of the worst nights of my life and I think I’m still scarred from it (it was also the biggest “fight” my husband and I have ever had- and by “fight” I mean me being pissed off at him for a long period of time as he apologized numerous times for being an insensitive asshole). I LOVED the dress I wore that night and have never worn it again because I’m afraid someone will think I’m pregnant. Anyone have any fashion tips for a fat lady? I try to avoid overly tight or loose stomach fitting shirts so no one mistakes me as being pregnant, but I’m a little terrified to buy clothes now…

  • ponytime

    I’m sorry to see so many commenters shying away from their plump tummies by emphasizing medical issues (well, it’s not FAT!) and talking about how self conscious they have become because of the comments.
    The opportunity here is to turn our internal reaction around and love and accept our beautiful bodies.
    Easier said than done. I know.
    But it happened to me today. New teacher orientation at my school. I have a long commute and the school is so huge that I couldn’t find a bathroom. I asked the first person I saw, who happened to be a gym teacher. She let me into th elocker room to use the bathrooms and when I came out and thanked her, she said, “oh, of course! I was pregnant my first year teaching, too!”
    I quickly excused myself without correcting her, only to go to a breakout meeting with – get this – a pregnant gym teacher.
    I wanted to shrivel up for a minute. I wanted to yell at all the toxic blonde jocks who have ALWAYS made me feel bad about my body.
    But… I didn’t want to change my body.
    I just want people to have some fucking decency and go by the age old rule “Even if you see a baby emerging from a woman’s body, don’t ever assume she is pregnant.” Period.

  • Sabrina

    I found this site after Googling “people think I’m pregnant”, fresh off hearing one of those remarks myself. I work at McDonald’s, in the drive thru (ick, I know)… Anyway, I’ve been asked a few times, and it always leaves me horrified, this time a regular customer asked if I’ve already had my baby. Stunned, I replied I wasn’t pregnant, and she shrugged it off by saying it must’ve been someone else (none of my coworkers have been pregnant lately). It’s frustrating, I usually freeze up when asked, and never know how to reply. I carry weight all over and don’t have that perfect round “pregnant” belly, so I don’t know why they make that mistake. Definitely gotta work out more. :/

  • Olive

    I am a 14 year old girl. This happened last night. I’m like crying right now. I know I’m fat. I get called fat on a daily basis. But I was at this party at my parents friends house and some old lady called me over and asked me how many months I was. MEANING SHE THOUGHT I WAS PREGNANT. I thought that could never happen cause I look my age. So I said “I’m not. I’m only 14.” I was mortified. She looked shocked and tried to apologize. She made some excuse that her daughter didn’t gain weight while she was prego and that I’m skinny and all bullshit. I smiled and pretended to accept her apology. But really I don’t. I’m an extremely insecure girl who deals with self harm and this woman made me relapse after 5 months clean. I don’t know how to cope with this. I’m too embarrassed to tell my friends.

  • RootieTootie

    I feel for Olive. 14 is a hard age anyway. Olive, you are not the one with a flaw, they are.

    I am 49 and people have started asking a couple of years ago if I am pregnant. It has gotten real bad this summer. 3 people have asked me in the past month things like “When are you due?” and “Is it a boy or a girl?” I thought people knew not to ask that question. Looks like I am very wrong. I say “No, I like pizza, I’m just fat.” It doesn’t make me feel better that they are embarrassed. I just want to go home and never eat again. Instead, I have a second helping of dinner. Neither is a good idea.

    It is hard to not think about my shape several times a day now. It always seems to happen when I think I l am looking better or slimmer than I have lately. Then.. WHAMMO.. I get smacked in the face with “When are you due?” I decided today that I must look fatter than I thought. I am only 20 lbs overweight. I used to be 115 and am about 135. I got plantar faciitis and can’t exercise the same as i used to.

    I have been thin all my life – till lately. People used to ask if I was anorexic. That was horrible too. Back then I thought they would never comment if I were overweight. I guess no body type is immune from other people being rude and insensitive.

    I want a t-shirt that says “I’m not pregnant, just fat”. It would save me emotional trauma and those very awkward moments.

  • Krys

    I have been asked that multiple times. Me, unable to defend myself just walk away without saying anything. It just hurts no matter how old you are. I am 21 and have been asked that all through my teen years.

  • Karen

    I can understand people wanting to celebrate with you if they believe you’re expecting but that’s the problem. They don’t know that and to ask this question, in my opinion, is rude. Its like asking someone their age. We live in a society where many people don’t have common etiquette. Hello!!! If you want to find out, let the person tell you. Ask them how they are? If a woman’s pregnant she’s gonna be feeling a whole lot and be willing to share. I know from experience. I’ve been asked this question also and it annoys me. I don’t believe people are intentionally trying to be malicious or mean but the fact that grown people don’t have a clue about what is polite bothers me. Did they ever stop to think how stupid they would feel if the answer was no? THINK FIRST! I’m past the child bearing age but look young for my age. I have small, fairly toned limbs but have the “family curse” as I call it. A little tub of a stomach. I’ve recently lost 41 pounds and I’m still loosing but my “tub” still remains with me. People that know what I looked like before see how much I’ve lost. People’s perception is also an offender here. People expect to see flat stomachs. Well, so do I. Don’t come to me flabby asking me questions if you don’t have a flat stomach! I would guess that many or the women asking this question don’t have a flat stomach. They may even have a few other problem areas too. What is my answer to this RUDE question? I’d like to say I have one answer that works all the time but I don’t. I take each situation as it comes. For one, I don’t joke it off. I’m uncomfortable with their rudeness and I let that be known. I’m not rude or obnoxious about it but I’m firm. When I answer I say I’m NOT pregnant. Most people reply with a quick “I’m sorry, I feel like I could die.” Well, you chose to open your mouth and put the nozzle of the gun there, not me. One women who felt so bad began to tell me how good I looked. Really? I rolled my eyes upward in sheer disbelief because she was trying so hard to take both feet out her mouth; I told her to just stop. Lets end the torture now. I believe the way you deal with the situation lets people know how you feel about their question. If someone is bold enough to ask me when I’m due and has a stomach herself, I’d as her when she’s due. Then the offender becomes the offended and its plain to see on their face. Again, don’t come asking me questions if you have a stomach your damn self! lol My advice to all the woman out there who have encountered this situation, love you. As a black woman who is curvy, I’ve learned to love all my curves. I work out, eat well but I love all my curves. Love who you are. We are all beautiful in our own way, that’s why God made us all shades and sizes.

  • Jenn

    Totally can relate. Been asked THREE times!! Once when my hubby and I were visiting his sick nana at the home and another time when I worked at a grocery store.. the lady asked then I was due and at first thought she meant due to get off work for the night. When I straightened the matter out, she replied with an indignant “Well, I just saw your big tummy and assumed!”.
    The last time, I was visiting my gran in the hospice with my mom and the lady in next bed asked. This was worst in terms of embarrassment because my was there to witness it and lady wouldn’t stop making excuses for what she asked.

  • Mandie

    Been asked more than 50 times, and I’m under 30. Most recent was at work. A coworker said, “you pregnant? No? Wow, you are just getting extremely fat then, gaining a bunch of weight aren’t you?” If I killed her, I’d have lost my job.

    Beyond tired of being asked. It’s rude, and it makes me just want to eat more. :(

  • Kelly

    You and I are much the same. I even come from the same stock and have the same body type. I carry all my weight in my belly and am otherwise slender if a little broad in the shoulders. I am not and have never been (and am never planning to be) pregnant and I get asked about it all the time. I want to get a t-shirt seriously so I can stop telling people that it’s honestly just fat.

  • Krystle

    I’m a little late to this post. I just Googled, “When someone asks if you’re pregnant and you’re not” – and this is the first link that popped up.

    I was Googling such a phrase because it happened to me for the first time about 3 weeks ago. And ever since, I have felt absolutely wretched. I guess I’m searching for some kind of comfort.

    I’m a graduate student. This past summer semester was tough on me – 2 four-hour classes a week plus 8-hour Saturday classes over 10 weeks in addition to my full-time job. There was no time (and no energy) to work out and I found my comfort in convenient food and wine.

    My coworker asked a table of other coworkers if I was pregnant. They denied it, and he responded with a, “Well, she doesn’t look as good as she used to.”

    It’s been 3 weeks – and his words haunt me when I eat. I have been to the gym every day and have been watching what I eat, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

    I’m 28 years old. I thought I was passed the pre-pubescent self-conscience phrase. It’s ridiculous that his inconsiderate words have this kind of effect on me.

  • Megan

    I got my first are you pregnant today. I’m not gonna lie, it hurt quite a bit. I have battled with my weight since I can remember (growing up around skinny family members and friends) and I also found out I have PCOS so most of the weight I gain goes to my stomach. I’m a size 10. I was at work when this happened.I was a bit embarassed and thankfully no one else heard or I would have been mortified. (I work closely with my best friend she probably would have told everyone, what a friend) The older lady came up to me and her husband walks out she looks me dead in the eye and holds off a second then goes “I’m sorry……but are you pregnant?” I just smiled and said no (my job requires me to be nice) She said “I’m sorry its just that the sunlight and..” That was all. I just acted like it didnt bother me but the more I thought about it to more I wanted to go sit in the restroom and cry :( I really wanted to say “nope just fat thanks for reminding me!!”