Just the other day, a lady that I know and (usually) like, put her arm around me and patted my belly. “Oooh, what do we have here?” she asked. Ok, floor, open up and swallow me now please. I responded, with much embarrassment, that yes, I knew I have been putting on a terrible amount of weight lately. “Oh I thought maybe there was little surprise coming,” says she. Good God, Heaven forbid! “No” I say, forcing a laugh, “It’s all just fat.” At this point I’m not feeling so happy anymore. “Are you sure?” she insisted, sounding disappointed of all things. No embarrassment on her part at all here. Ok floor, scrap that. Open up and swallow her instead. At least she finally removed her hand from my fat stomach. I responded with some final joke and managed to get the subject changed. The only other lady in the room happened to have some sense of tact was extremely helpful in this.
I have a few thoughts to share based on this utterly humiliating experience.
First of all, even if I was pregnant, I would despise having my tummy rubbed by anyone else unless they were invited to. Invited by me, thank you very much! Thank goodness I never actually had that happen when I was pregnant (amazingly if you think about that) because the pregnancy hormones tend to make me rather touchy, and that poor tactless woman might have been sporting a black eye or flattened nose over her little stunt.
Secondly, unless it is absolutely obvious and there is no doubt at all, do not ever rub a woman’s belly (pregnant or otherwise) and/or ask when she is due. In fact, even if it is obvious, don’t do that. Never assume she is pregnant unless you hear her say so herself. And for God’s sake, don’t touch her belly! Ever. That is her belly and her belly only and just because she is pregnant doesn’t make it public property.
Third, I know I’ve had five kids. That doesn’t mean I’m wanting more. In fact, it means quite the opposite. It also doesn’t mean that I am going to be one of these women that have 20 kids and you can always assume that I am pregnant. As well, after five pregnancies, surely I can be allowed to let myself go just a little and have a bit of a tummy. In my mind, I’ve paid my dues and earned it. I’m a real woman in real life and yes, I have put on some weight. Until that moment, while I may not have been completely happy with my new physique, I was working on acceptance. Until I had time to focus a little more energy on changing it anyhow.
Now, I find myself dealing with all sorts of insecurity issues that I didn’t even know I had. The worst part is, I find myself watching everything I put in my mouth and food no longer has the same enjoyment for me it once had. I’m making plans on how to get more active and lose some weight, which isn’t such a bad thing in itself, but the shame I feel is putting a damper on things and taking much of the joy out of it. All in all, that 3 min moment in my life was completely embarrassing and has had some very deep and far-reaching effects on my life and psyche.
For the record, I still think this lady had only innocent intentions at the time, and I still think she is a very nice person. I will, however, be a little more guarded about my personal space around her. And my belly.