opinion

'A message to the woman who asked me when I was due: I'm not pregnant.'

When a regular customer at the cafe I worked at asked me the question, “How long until you’re finished?” I struggled with my response.

Did she mean how long until I’m finished with uni? How long until I finish my shift?

Things became clear when her friend interjected and announced that I was not pregnant. Yes – she had the nerve to ask me, a twenty-year-old girl, when I was due to give birth.

It took me a minute to comprehend the insult. I felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach – particularly because I was two weeks into an 8-week challenge at my gym. Prior to this comment I was feeling the most motivated I had ever felt.

I replied with something like, “Oh I wish!” or “Wouldn’t that be lovely” just to diffuse the awkwardness. But on the inside, I was fighting back the waterworks.

My whole life I’ve always been very sure of myself, but my ego was completely shaken by this one remark. Sure, the customer was an old lady who didn’t have her glasses on, but that is no excuse.

mistaken for pregnant
"My whole life I've always been very sure of myself." Image: Supplied
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The whole situation made me wonder what sort of person would assume such a thing, and have the courage to comment on it – especially pregnancy. In my opinion, it is no longer acceptable to comment on a woman’s body, particularly if it’s negative.

When I came back inside and told my co-workers what had happened, I was surprised at the number of people who had received similar remarks – or said it themselves.

“Some people are just ignorant and have no idea what might be going on," one of my co-workers said in an attempt to console me, but it gave me little comfort.

My manager, who had given birth a year ago, said she had been asked the question six times since giving birth – three of those times when she was at work.

She said, “Each time I was asked, I didn’t eat dinner that night and cried about it for weeks." This was all too familiar. I too have cried multiple times since.

The Mamamia Out Loud team sit down with writer and You Beauty podcast host, Amy Clark, to talk about body-shaming wrapped up in faux-concern. Post continues below.

It just shows how one insensitive comment can have a huge effect on someone’s wellbeing.

So, from now on, I have a request: stop commenting on women’s bodies, even if you think you’re just being friendly. It can have a profound effect on the minds of girls young and old.

It doesn’t matter whether the woman is, in fact, pregnant and literally giving birth in front of you, or she is a 20-year-old waitress wearing an oversized top. Let’s just stop assuming and start enabling better mental and physical health for women of all ages.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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