To The Man Who Thought I Was Pregnant

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
body image

I was wearing one of my favorite ModCloth dresses that day, the A-line dress with the pleats. The kids and I were meeting the priest at church, and they were running around the garden, all one, two, three of them. I stood watching them, arms at my sides. You, the man with a gravelly Maury Ballstein voice, struck up a conversation.

“All boys, huh?” you said.

“Yep,” I replied. “All boys.”

“And one on the way, it looks like.”

I froze. “No,” I managed stiffly. “I am not pregnant.

“Oh, hit me,” you say. Then you continue the conversation as if nothing has happened. But everything has happened. I am not pregnant. I am decidedly not pregnant. I know that Prozac made me gain some weight, but I didn’t think my stomach stuck out that much. I was even wearing Spanx that day.

Asshole, don’t you know the rule? Unless you are 1) the creator of said baby, or 2) watching the baby literally emerge, never presume a woman is pregnant. I get it. I’m at a Catholic church on a random weekday afternoon. I have three kids already, three kids who are two years stair-step close in age. It seems logical to assume that I would be knocked up again. All the stereotypes add up to pregnant. Except stereotypes are just that, and assuming makes an ass out of you.

I’m also appalled you decided to make a judgment about me based on your scrutiny of my body. Do you know how I feel about those pounds I’ve gained from medication? Not great. In fact, I feel really, really shitty about them. I try hard not to; I try hard to be body-positive and tell myself I look great at any size. That’s why I wear cute dresses all the time. When you mistake me for pregnant, you’re basically telling me I look too fat to be a normal woman. I’m outside the norm; I can’t possibly be attractive. I struggle hard with this daily. Having a stranger tell me this stuff seems to validate my worst thoughts and feelings. I cried about that.

You have no right to scrutinize my body.

There’s also another layer to your assumption. You thought I was pregnant. I wish I were pregnant. I would, in fact, do anything to be able to get pregnant again. But pregnancy makes me too sick with hyperemesis gravidarum. I was hospitalized last time around, with diabetes and iron levels so low I needed infusions. I spent the first three months of my last pregnancy in bed, and it’s been worse every time. There is no way I could continue to parent three children and get pregnant at the same time. My youngest son is my last biological baby, and I’m desperately broken up about it. When you mistake me for pregnant, you bring up all these feelings. I think about how he’s the last, how they’ll never be another bio baby. I cried about that, too.

You have no right to make assumptions about my fertility.

I managed to wait until my husband came home to tell him about it. It took a lot of effort on my part, but I managed it. I told him what dress I was wearing (I had obviously changed the moment I came home). I put it on and showed him. “Oh, you don’t look pregnant,” he said. “That dress just has a front pleat. It makes what’s under it look larger.”

Friends say I’m beautiful. Friends say you’re an asshole, that I look great, that you had no right to say that to me. They say I look wonderful. My husband says I look wonderful. He says I certainly don’t look pregnant. You may have fed the seeds of doubt I have. Your words validated my darkest thoughts about my body. You joined forces to tell me I’m fat and hence ugly. You said there’s something wrong with my body.

But there isn’t. I look fabulous. So what if I gained some curves? I often look at curvy girls and think how beautiful they are. The only thing wrong with my body? There was an asshole looking at it, an asshole who doesn’t get that he can’t make assumptions about another person. You and your words can fuck off. I look fab at whatever size I am.

I will not allow your words to define me and my body image. I will not give you that control. It’s mine. I’m taking it back. And I’m still going to wear that dress.

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