My hands were holding the plastic sleeves filled with sandwiches, apple slices, and milk bottles. I struggled with the zipper on my bag to get my wallet out. My daughter circled around me, round and round, grabbing the flowing fabric on my dress each time she did a lap. My husband held our wiggly preschooler as he tried diligently to knock my husband’s hat off his head. I sent my husband and kids to the car to get buckled before we headed out for our day at the beach. I peeled the credit card from my wallet, made eye contact with the cashier and then she said it.
“More kids on the way, huh?”
I stood frozen, uncomfortable and feeling the pop of stomach acid beginning to turn in my belly. I clenched my plastic bags and said, “Excuse me?”
“You’re pregnant, right?”
My side-eye look must have assured her that, no, I was not pregnant.
She started down a string of “I’m sorry” in my direction as I stuffed every condiment, straw, and stir stick I didn’t need into the bag to counter my embarrassment. Disheveled and worried that I was holding up the sandwich line, all I could muster was “I’m sorry you said that too.”
I forgot napkins. In my embarrassing race to exit, I grabbed everything except extra napkins. I jumped in the front seat and stared blankly ahead. I buckled and then leaned over to my husband and with a cupped hand next to his ear whispered what had just happened.
Was it the dress? I just bought it. I loved it.
Was it my still slightly rounded belly that once held my babies?
Was it just that the cashier didn’t know appropriate small talk?
I rolled down my window and let the warm sunshine-filled air spin through the car. I looked back at my kids, ready for the beach, happily eating their lunch. It would be easy to sink into a funk. It would be easy to feel bad about myself, question my body, count how many times I worked out that month, the appropriateness of her comments or plan a crash diet. Instead, I made a decision that was harder, took more effort, energy, and positive thoughts, I decided to move on with my day and be positive about my body.
I will not let your inappropriateness ruin my day or time with my kids.
When we got to the beach, I played with my kids; we built an epic moat and sand castle, and we swam. At one point, a woman walked up to me and asked where I got my swimsuit because she loved it so much. So this is me. Both happy and hurt, but moving forward. This is one step — a difficult, embarrassing, yet important growth in my quest for body love. At one point in my life, that comment would have sent me down an ugly spiral of self-hate. Today I moved on.
Conversation about my body is inappropriate small talk.
Instead of commenting on my body, ask me about my kids, what I’m reading, my next vacation I hope to take, what I like best about summer, what I’m doing this weekend, or my favorite hobby. But, please stop using conversations about my body as small talk. Body acceptance and learning to love yourself is hard enough, I don’t need your inappropriate commentary.
The journey to self-love is long and takes many steps. Your path to body confidence might start with putting on your damn swimsuit. But I want you to know that it is not just about putting on your swimsuit. Yes, that is one step and it is so important, but I want you to know there will be other challenges and struggles that you will face in your journey to body love. There will be hurtful comments and times when you are forced to make the difficult decision of moving forward.