Jess Rotenberg is a mother of two sons (one is almost four, the other is two and a half) who continues to get asked regularly if she’s pregnant, if she’s expecting, or when the due date is. Although the question is well-meant, the connotations – particularly if the question is aimed at a woman who’s not pregnant – aren’t so great.
Everyone – men and women, both young and old – who have been on the receiving end of Rotenberg’s easy reply, “Oh, I’m not pregnant,” always follows by apologizing profusely and experiencing extreme embarrassment.
After experiencing this several times however, Rotenberg began to feel confused. She knew that she hadn’t shed all of her baby weight, even a few years after pregnancy, and there were other personal factors that were also affecting her weight. She was aware of this.
But she couldn’t quite place her finger on why everyone was so mortified when she corrected them.
It wasn’t until much later that Rotenberg finally understood: None of these people had wanted to insult her by calling her fat.
Rotenberg, however, refused to let this question and its implications bother her. “Buying into the idea that [calling a woman fat] is an insult is buying into the idea that fat is bad and gross. … Must I manipulate my body for my own happiness?”
She continues by thinking of all the things she can do with her body: nurse her son, kiss “imaginary boo-boos,” create art, maintain a family, and so much more. Rotenberg believes that each of these actions and habits that she’s developed with her family are much more indicative of who she is.
And in that respect, she could think of all the “things [she’s] trying not to be. A bad parent? A distant friend? A nagging, miserable spouse? …there are so many other adjectives that would shred [her].”
Rotenberg has nothing against others asking if she’s pregnant. In fact, she’s come to embrace it. She writes, “You can mistake me for a glowing pregnant mama any day. Because it reminds me that fat is not the worst thing I can be.”
We could do with more people like her in the world.