I've Got a Message for Body Shamers Everywhere

Friday, March 23, 2018

Boston, MA, USA

It's starts with an F and ends with a U.

[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]

"First, I'm not mad at you." 

Not the response you thought, huh? It's true, there will be people who will be ugly about your body. This can come at any moment during your parenthood journey. It may be a stranger mistaking you for being pregnant to someone being downright rude about your postpartum body. The way we perceive people is very much based in appearance. I'm talking about things like how rich you think someone is or how smart you think they might be, even how successful you think they are. From your face being symmetrical to your height to your combination of hair and eye color all affect the way you are perceived. 

You can't blame your sister in law or that rude cashier for their comment. Your mother-in-law may not actually know any different. People feel like it's okay to speak about pregnant people's bodies as they please. It's societal. Society has taught us that we can talk about how big or small and high or low someone's belly is or whether they are having a boy or girl. It's rude and if it's unsolicited and from a stranger, it's creepy. Sometimes people mean it to be sweet, sometimes people mean it to be ugly.

There is a caveat. 

I think you were being nice...? 

Sometimes, people say things about your body because they don't know how else to interact with you, but the energy of your baby is too strong. I know, sounds weird, but I promise humans have this connection to babies that strangers will do wild things to pregnant women or babies. Grocery Stores and Coffee Shops are minefields-- enter with caution and at your own risk! 

I'll be honest, I've made comments about expectant parents' bodies before because I genuinely was trying to be kind and sweet. I like to go by the rule of "now that you know better, do better." Now that you know that it is rude, educate yourself on what you can say and then be conscious of what you are saying to expectant people. 

You're a Baby Making Temple

It blows my mind that other people can body shame another human who is growing a tiny human. Think about how amazing your body is that it can grow another human and then birth that tiny human and that tiny human will grow up to be another big human. Let that sink in. 

When your baby is born, I often hear some variation of "I made this." Yep, you did. Not all by yourself, but kind of all by yourself. Since conception, it's been a solo show, well physically at least. You've had to follow a specific diet, sleep is hard, the emotions are a roller coaster, and activities are limited since you've been pregnant. All because your body is working so hard to make a tiny human. That's phenomenal. 

So what's a gal to do?

Body shaming is never okay. What someone else does with their body is not any of your business and vice versa (partners are the exception if that's how you roll). It's not your choice and it doesn't have anything to do with you. Unless someone particularly asks your opinion, I'm not sure why you would share your opinion. 

  1. Dive Deeper This person obviously has an opinion so ask them. Ask them. They opened up the conversation so dig in. You may find that they actually have very useful information. Maybe you'll may find out that they didn't know what else to say and at that point you can take the opportunity to educate them. 
  2. Filter Your Village During Pregnancy, you may find that you need temporary space for a person or group of people. That's okay. Protecting your headspace is most important and if that's what needs to happen then remind yourself that it's temporary. You want to be surrounded by people who build you up and support you and who remind you how hard your body is working and are compassionate to the changes your body is making.  
  3. Give Alternatives Take a minute to educate them by telling them alternative things to say when they want to interact with an expectant parent like, "You look beautiful pregnant," or "You are glowing." If they are talking about how excited they are to have a baby, you can say, "You're already looking like a parent," or "You look like you're ready to have this baby!" You should also explain how their original comment made you feel and how it might be perceived by pregnant people. Sometimes other people just don't know and that's that. 
  4. Set Boundaries If it is someone you have to be around often and can't truly take temporary space for months. Be honest and set realistic boundaries. Tell that person how their comments, make you feel, what alternatives they can say instead, and whether you actually want them to ask about your pregnancy or not. 
  5. Be Loud and Proud Let body shamers know you are proud of your body. This will set the tone that they are expected to be proud of your body, too. Your stretch marks are awards that you have won for making, growing and birthing a tiny human. You are a strong warrior. Brave like a Tiger. I am woman, hear me roar. Now, it's your turn. 

Be Your Own #1

You have to find it in yourself to put yourself first sometimes. Your self care is everything. Remember, you can not pour from an empty cup. You have to set time aside for yourself in order to appreciate yourself. You need to connect with your body to truly see how hard it is working. Take the time to be your own #1.

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