twitter facebook stumble upon rss

No, I'm Not Pregnant -- Just Fatter. But Thanks.

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Asking someone if she's pregnant could do more than just hurt her feelings. Trust me.

woman holding belly

Julia Childless: It's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As someone who suffered from both binge eating and anorexia for most of my 20s, I thought it would be appropriate to share my story about why I believe nobody should ever ask another woman this question: "Are you pregnant?"

Also unacceptable? "When are you due?" "Is it okay that I noticed you're expecting?" And, "I think you must be pregnant -- you have that special glow!"

I have heard all of these things from very well-meaning and very intelligent friends. It felt very hurtful. Very upsetting. Very uncomfortable.

One way I finally overcame my binge-eating was by allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted while attempting to be less concerned about what size I wore. At first, the novelty of having "forbidden foods" around all the time caused me to overindulge. But after a while the excitement wore off, and I was able to eat more moderate, "normal-size" portions. I gained about 20 to 30 pounds those first few months, and tried to embrace my new attitude by wearing stretchy clothes -- ones that would expand to my ever-changing body while it adapted to my new eating habits.

At the same time, I was trying to get pregnant -- a huge reason why I wanted to conquer my disordered eating and become my healthiest. I wasn't quiet about my attempts; most people around me were either expecting themselves or already had children of their own, so I picked their brains about trying to get knocked up. A number of them put two and two together: I was talking babies, I was looking heftier and happier ... hence, "Are you pregnant?"

I don't know if it would've stung less had these people been strangers. My stomach has always been a problem area, and after a hearty meal I can definitely look like I'm in my second trimester. But the fact that these women were my friends -- and people I respected -- I had to tell them the truth. It felt like my eating disorders were sitting on each of my shoulders, saying, "Told you so. Shouldn't have tried this. Look at this sticky situation you've gotten yourself into. Should've kept starving yourself, so you wouldn't have to admit you're not pregnant yet."

As if I needed to be reminded.

I told my friends that I wasn't pregnant, of course -- and also said that I was actually recovering from an eating disorder and had gained some weight. The reactions were definitely awkward, but not one of them apologized. Maybe they didn't want to admit, "Sorry, but if you're not pregnant, you don't look like yourself. And that ain't good."

Another thing you should avoid saying? If you're pregnant, never utter these words: "I'm so fat!" "I'm huge!" "I'm a beached whale!" Hearing things like this didn't help my infertile, bloated self recover any quicker.

Ultimately, through a lot of positive self-talk and the advice of my therapist, I was able to move past these comments without relapsing. I've also, over the last year, naturally lost all of the weight I initially put on, and then some. When I talk with friends about my fertility issues nowadays, nobody suspects that my skinniest self might be expecting. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't hurt if someone did make a mistake, and asked the dreaded question.

So don't do it. Your curiosity isn't more important than someone else's self-esteem. And if the person you think is pregnant doesn't have an eating disorder? Still don't assume -- or you might just trigger one.

next: Should We Stop Taking Our Kids to Animal Parks?
28 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon February 25, 2010, 1:27 PM

If you’re big enough to make someone think that you’re pregnant, you may want to make a change rather than get upset at someone for asking a simple question. Lose the weight or deal with it. It’s called reality.

Pete February 25, 2010, 1:34 PM

So let me get this straight… society should never ask anybody a question regarding weight or pregnancy in order to keep YOUR self esteem up? Give me a break. If you have an eating disorder, deal with it. It’s not our problem, or your friends’ problem, its YOUR problem. Don’t get mad at people for trying to be nice to you and ask you a perfectly polite question. It would be like me getting mad if someone asked me where my girlfriend was if I just broke up with her. Or asking a closet alcoholic if he had a beer in the fridge. Get over yourself, honey, the world is bigger than just you!

Anonymous Mom February 25, 2010, 1:34 PM

I had a couple eating disorders when I was younger. I’d like to think that, even though I’m clinically obese now, that I’m the most comfortable with the way I am. I was…until the day a total stranger, some homeless man I saw on my way into work, started yelling “When are you due? When are you due? C’mon answer me woman, anyone can tell you pregnant!” When I got home, I washed the blouse I’d been wearing, and immediately threw it into my Goodwill pile. I haven’t worn any shirts even resembling it ever since.

Anonymous February 25, 2010, 1:35 PM

Please refrain from being a self-centered cow. If you’re talking about babies it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to ask if you’re pregnant. If you’re gaining weight because you are pregnant you shouldn’t have to censor yourself for fear of hurting your poor fat friend’s feelings.

anon February 25, 2010, 1:37 PM

It’s nobody’s responsibility to help you get over your self-inflicted disorders, or to help you feel better about your fatness. Take control of your life.

Anon February 25, 2010, 1:41 PM

Kinda like the old situation where let’s say you crack a “yo momma” joke, or ask about another person’s boss, dog, sister, brother, whatever. Your response is something like “don’t ever mention anyone’s mother because they might be dead.” If someone thinks you’re pregnant, and asks you so, the answer is just simply, “no, I’m not” and then move on. It’s not their fault for being mistaken in a perfectly reasonable assumption, just like it’s nobody’s fault for not knowing your mom’s dead. Stop making innocent people feel like jerks just because you’re f*d in the head.

Individualist February 25, 2010, 1:47 PM

You may trigger an eating disorder?

I’m sorry, but you can’t put blame from your personal eating disorders on other people.
If you are troubled enough to have an eating disorder, then that is something you have to fix from yourself.

Zach February 25, 2010, 1:50 PM

Stop being so fat

Anonymous February 25, 2010, 1:51 PM

I can’t say anything more that hasn’t already been said, really. But I can try!

Stop being so self centered, stop whinging on about how bad people make you feel for trying to connect with you about something YOU YOURSELF brought up. My god!

This is advice from a fellow fatty: stop making us all look like douchebags. Thank you.

Blah February 25, 2010, 1:51 PM

Seriously get thicker skin. If you don’t mind being fat then don’t get upset when people notice that you’re fat. If you don’t like it then make a change, period.

So sick of this BS mentality that everyone should walk on egg shells around disgusting lazy fat people.

A February 25, 2010, 1:51 PM

As sorry as I am for your past problems with eating disorders I must say this article is not very fair. You were the one who initiated the conversations about conceiving…it’s perfectly normal that your friends may remember this and ask you a harmless question. Now when I say harmless I really do mean harmless…it’s not the comments or anyone’s remarks that are hurtful, its the fact that your self esteem issues actually lead you to think these destructive thoughts. When you are able to free yourself from even some of your self esteem issues I think you’ll find this world to be so much easier to live in and comments like those trivial and laughable.

cestlavie February 25, 2010, 1:52 PM

Mm. You know, I’m all for “awareness” and whatnot, but we can’t and don’t live in glass cages. The world hurts. Life is hard. Part of recovery is learning how to deal with natural stresses in a healthy, effective way. Shielding yourself against a misplaced question or faux pas isn’t taking responsibility for your own wellbeing, it’s painting yourself as a victim and finding excuses to relapse. Sorry chica, you need to toughen up and hold yourself accountable for how you respond to stress.

Casey February 25, 2010, 1:52 PM

I could understand how upsetting it would be for a total stranger to approach someone asking if they were pregnant, but if you know that you were gaining weight, and that you you were giving the impression that you had babies on the brain how can you be hurt by your friends asking if you’re pregnant? They’re your friends, they’re interested in your life and they’ve noticed a change. If you were simply always fat and they randomly decided to ask you this for no apparent reason aside from a quick weight gain I could even understand how you would feel upset, but really calm down. If my friends suddenly change their wardrobe to baggy clothing, put on more than 5-10 pounds and start talking about babies I’m going to ask them if they’re trying to have a baby or if they’re pregnant. They’re your FRIENDS. They’re not trying to hurt you, they’re trying to be there for you!

Casey February 25, 2010, 1:56 PM

Okay and one more thing : the outside world is not going to change for you because you’re having trouble dealing with an eating disorder. People are rude, and obtuse and inconsiderate. YOU are in charge of YOUR OWN BODY, including YOUR OWN BODY IMAGE. I’m sure these are things you review with your therapist, so as a quick reminder I’m just gonna give you the heads up that the world does not revolve around you. It’s not up to us to keep you from sticking your finger down your throat or to keep injesting nutrients. That’s all up to you doll, don’t blame everyone else.

Rainchaser February 25, 2010, 2:08 PM

Oh for the sake of whatever you think is holy - just stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with your life, letting all the rest of us get on with ours!

anonymous February 25, 2010, 3:23 PM

I am all for people being less nosy and rude and I don’t think anyone should ever ask if a woman is pregnant—she will tell you if she is and wants to. But, if you are constantly talking about wanting babies, how to get pregnant, etc. then OF COURSE your friends are going to ask you if you are pregnant when you gain a significant amount of weight. It is a natural assumption. This author has the weakest possible argument for getting people to stop asking “are you pregnant?”.

marimba_girl February 25, 2010, 6:45 PM

I totally agree. People should really mind their own business. You never know what people are going through. If you MUST ask someone if they are pregnant, sick, or whatever, PLEASE have the presence of mind and good manners to apologize if you are mistaken. You may think this is terribly rude, but if I want you to know what’s happening with me, I’ll tell you. You won’t have to ask.

ewrew February 25, 2010, 7:24 PM

Who cares!!! My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at~ A_g_e_m_i_n_g_l_e.c o m ~a nice and free place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

tennmom February 25, 2010, 8:14 PM

If in doubt, don’t speak to a woman about pregnancy.
I once ALMOST asked a mom in baby-swim class when she was due. I am so glad I didn’t. She looked 8 months pregnant but wasn’t pregnant.
When I was a cashier while in college, “L.” was pregnant and I remember thinking that “S” looked more pregnant than “L.”. “S” actually was. She was one of those rare women pregnant without realizing it. The day she before she gave birth she told me she had very bad menstrual cramps.
Anywho, we really don’t have to give voice to every thought we have, eh?

Monica February 26, 2010, 3:00 AM

I’ve learned not to ask that question being that I’ve done it twice and had to put my foot in my mouth. But having experience in that area, I would say that the asker is just as embarrassed as the non-pregnant person. So we’re even.

Back to top >>