Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stop commenting on my appearance.

I'm not pregnant (anymore).  Our son is almost 6 months old.  But I still have a lingering belly, and that invites comments from others, apparently.

What makes it more awkward is that I've always been on the thin side, and my belly is about the only place that is disproportionately bigger than the rest of me.  People have always commented on how skinny I am (and how that doesn't match with their view of Americans).  Thanks to society's standards of beauty, there's a double standard that makes it acceptable to make "positive" comments (about how their appearance aligns with these standards) rather than "negative" ones (about how they don't).

Today after church, this happened:
"When I saw your husband carrying the baby in the baby carrier, and you with your belly, I thought maybe you were pregnant," said a fellow church goer.
I forced a smile, a "this is awkward" smile, and said no.  He replied, "It's a joke."

Just before we found out we were expecting, someone asked me if I was pregnant.  Technically, yes, I was, but just barely.  Our munchkin was smaller than a pea at that point.  I'd only occasionally exchanged small talk with this woman and still she asked.

img src here

Knock it off.

Don't tell me to just "grin and bear it." This is not at all appropriate.  Or funny.

Don't comment on other people's bodies.

Don't comment on WOMEN's bodies. (And stop with giving others a "once-over" glance, male or female. I've seen men on the streets do this.)

Don't comment on the bodies of women with babies under a year old (at least).

Especially don't comment on the bodies of people you don't even have a relationship with.  I don't even know this man's name - later I at least saw who his wife was, and I've talked to her maybe once or twice.  What's her name? I think I know, but I'm not sure.

There is nothing that warrants you asking about my weight.  I don't care if you consider yourself a direct communicator or not.  I don't care if it's Dutch culture to be direct - "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all."

It doesn't matter my choice of clothes or my exercise regime.  It doesn't matter if you think it's true, or you are just telling your observations.  It doesn't matter how old my baby is.

It always drove me nuts when my family would return from family reunions, and say things like, "____ has lost a lot of weight" or "____ has really put on weight."  Aren't there other things to talk about from the day?

What if you think someone's pregnant?

img src here
Red light - Don't...
Say anything to an acquaintance or stranger.
Let their weight be the first or last thing (or only) topic you discuss.

Yellow light - Proceed with caution...
Wait till they say something. 
Wait about nine months and see if their family grows.

Green light - Go ahead and...
Talk about other subjects with her. 
Make plans to spend quality time with her. 
Don't say anything.


Don't leave comments here about my body or weight or anything else about my appearance.

Be sensitive to others.  Try to see things from their perspective.

Get to know others for what's on the inside - not just their skin color, weight, nationality, or other areas outside their control.

Cheesy but true.