I’m not even 8 weeks pregnant and it’s already begun. My dear friends, Tom and Jodi, warned me about this phenomenon that I would like to call Pregnancy Permission.
“Pregnancy is the one time in life that everyone feels they have the right to comment on a woman’s body.”
I’ve seen it in action before so I knew they were right, but no one had ever said it to me in quite that way before. It become clear to me just how wrong this perceived pregnancy permission is. We’d never go around commenting on a stranger’s muffin top or tell our girlfriend over lunch she looks like she put on a few pounds since we saw her last week. Yet we find out a friend is pregnant and we say things like “I thought I saw a baby bump,” or “you’re already starting to show.” I’ve heard stories that are becoming all too familiar among my friends. “Oh my, you look like you’re about to pop,” when she’s only 7 months along. “My that baby sure is growing fast.” “Are you sure you’re not having twins?” I’m sure you have your own quotes you could add. And there’s even the opposite end of the spectrum. “You’re 15 weeks? You don’t even look pregnant…” when all my friend wanted was a little baby bump.
As a newly pregnant woman that is already freaking out about the changes happening to my body and haunted by the comments from friends, let me offer you some novice advice. The next time you talk to a pregnant woman, especially me, don’t comment on her body. In fact, can we all just make it known to the world right now that pregnancy does not grant anyone the right to comment on a woman’s body — EVER! I think my friend Jodi put it best when she said, “the only thing I will say to you is you look beautiful.” She is so wise, and after 3 kids of her own, experienced with this pregnancy permission stuff. There’s probably nothing a pregnant woman wants to hear more than “you’re beautiful.” We’re tired, sick, run down, stretched (quite literally), sometimes depressed, and for many, bigger than we’ve ever been. We want you to see us, not our belly. Is that too much to ask?
Of course, we should all have one or two friends that are close enough to us to honestly tell us that it’s clear we need some sleep, or it’s time we wash those sweatpants we’ve been in for a week, but if you’re that person to someone, you know it. Chances are you’re not, so when in doubt, pregnancy permission does not apply.
So as someone who has been guilty of thinking I had pregnancy permission in the past, I now pledge to hold my tongue and choose words like beautiful that look past the physical and into the heart of the woman and the miracle happening inside her. Would you join me in my fight against this perceived pregnancy permission? Join me in resisting that fake smile the next time someone tells you how big you’re getting? Join me in silencing your opinions about a mom-to-be’s physical appearance and instead make her day by speaking words of beauty and encouragement to her? If so, leave a comment saying “I’m in” and encourage your friends to do the same.
Together, we can put an end to pregnancy permission once and for all! 😉Originally written October 18, 2013.