This is a Public Service Announcement

I had an *ahem* interesting interaction last night, and I mulled over it all night and all day, and talked it over with some friends.   I’ve decided to address it here in the hopes of improving interpersonal relations everywhere.  The following is a description of said interaction.

I am saying goodbye to clients at our annual Client Appreciation event, handing out gift bags and making small talk.

Me:  Thank you so much for coming, here’s a gift for you!

Client:  Oh thank you, and good luck with your… *gives me significant nod and smile*

Me:  *stares blankly*

Client:  You know… *gives another significant smile*

Me:  *stares blankly*

Client:  …when are you due?

Me:  *gapes open-mouthed while contemplating reply*  …oh, I’m not expecting… *nervous laughter*

Of course, the client was mortified, and apologized.  And then felt the need to feel my stomach and say, “Oh, of course you’re not pregnant!”

At the time, I just laughed it off.  I was tired and I’d had a cocktail and quite frankly I just wanted to go home.  I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because a) I was wearing one of those blousy, oversized shirts that vaguely resemble maternity wear, b) I carry all my excess weight around my middle, and c) my skin has been GREAT lately, so she may have mistaken it for that “pregnancy glow.”

However, the more I thought about it, the less OK with it I was.  Which prompted the creation of this post.

So here’s the promised Public Service Announcement:

UNLESS YOU ARE 1000% PERCENT SURE A WOMAN IS PREGNANT, NEVER, EVER COMMENT ON WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A PREGNANCY.  Also, NEVER TOUCH A STRANGER’S STOMACH AFTER MISTAKING HER FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN (or any other time, really).

Now let’s talk about why.

The first and most obvious reason you should never say something like “Congratulations on your bundle!” or “When are you due?” to a woman you are not absolutely certain is pregnant is because if the woman you are addressing is not, in fact, pregnant, she will assume you think she’s fat.  Luckily for my client, I’m not the type to bring about a direct confrontation.  However, there are women out there who could feel perfectly justified in punching you in the face for making such an error (I’m looking at you, Kellie).

Sue_punch_in_your_face

The second reason you should never comment on a possible pregnancy without being sure is a little less obvious, and definitely more sensitive.  What if the woman you are addressing is in the process of trying to conceive, but having fertility issues?  What if she’s had a recent miscarriage, or lost a baby?  Having someone congratulate a woman in that situation on a non-pregnancy would be devastating.  Maybe I’m overly touchy about this subject because I have a lot of friends with fertility issues, but this is stuff I think about.  And then of course, on top of this, she now thinks you think she’s fat (see above).

Lastly, it is NEVER OK to touch a stranger without his or her consent.  And this is coming from the mouth (fingers?) of one of the most touchy-feely people you’ll ever meet.  But seriously.  Different people have different personal space bubbles and different boundaries depending on the situation.  Having that woman grab my stomach, one of the areas of my body I’m most self-conscious about, after basically telling me I’m fat, made me feel… less than.  Less than what, I don’t know.  But it was like I was a brood mare and she was just grabbing me to check if I was ready to be mounted.  It felt icky.

I understand that most people want to share in the joy and excitement surrounding a pregnancy, but let the people who are pregnant share the news with you first, and then commence celebrating.  It will save everyone a lot of awkwardness and face punching.

Ladies, have you ever been mistaken for a preggo?  How did you handle it?

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29 thoughts on “This is a Public Service Announcement

  1. Rachel says:

    I want to share this post with everyone I know because I can’t believe this happened to you and it is disgusting and people should know better than that.

    A thought I had while reading: If a man has a bit of a tummy, it’s whatever. If a woman has a bit of a tummy, society seems to think that’s only okay if she’s pregnant, so the explanation must be that she’s pregnant… which is all kinds of messed up.

  2. WalkToRio says:

    Wow!
    I cannot believe she touched you after having messed it up big time.
    The’s another possibility, she’s not probably good up in the head, you, c r a z y, in which case you were lucky to escape with your life.
    Seriously though, there’s gotta be something wrong with her. Bless her heart, she probably felt so out of place that she didn’t know how to react and thought touching you was the way out.
    I don’t I’m just making up stuff in here.
    That’s why I never give compliments like that or ask, even if it’s obvious that a woman is pregnant, she probably doesn’t want compliments from strangers anyway.

    • DarlinRae says:

      I think a big part of it is generational; he was an older woman, and probably just made an assumption. Either way, it’s always better to hold your tongue than say something potentially hurtful.

  3. Healthy Simple Smart says:

    Ugh, people are kinda stupid sometimes. That sucks that that happened. A coworker is pregnant and she has a few weird “people touching her stomach” stories. I HATE being touched by strangers bleh. Anyway, I’ve never been mistaken for pregnant but I did get a “compliment” one time: “Oh I like your shirt, it reminds me of the shirts I used to wear when I was pregnant” WTF?!?!

    • DarlinRae says:

      People need better brain-to-mouth filters. I’m sure 99% they don’t mean it the way it comes out, but a few seconds’ extra consideration could save a lot of hurt

  4. greenmountainlife says:

    I mean I really just want to yell PREACH! I’ve never had that officially happen to me but I’ve known so many people who have and each time I’m like, really?? Quite frankly though I’m so anti-touching in general, I don’t even like touching actual pregnant women… that’s probably weird.. I accept it.

    • DarlinRae says:

      Yeah, I could write another whole post about how pregnant women seem to somehow become everyone’s property and they feel like they’re entitled to touch. Ugh. Think before you act, people!

  5. irishrunnerchick says:

    Wow. What a totally inappropriate thing to do/say! I’m with you – unless you see a baby jumping out of a vajayjay or a women tells you directly “I am pregnant” you should never assume anything. And touching anybody without their consent is just wrong. I would feel angry and then a little bit sorry for someone who thought that this was OK behavior.

    • DarlinRae says:

      Yeah, it was just a whole storm of awkward. She was embarrassed, I was embarrassed, then angry, then sad… I know she didn’t mean to be unkind, but even the way she tried to approach it without actually coming out and saying it… Ugh.

  6. Falyn @ Slacker Runner says:

    I have a dress that is super flowy and a few years ago I was wearing it at work. I was helping a male customer and had to walk away to get something, as I came back he asked when I was due. I was at my highest weight but I didn’t think I looked pregnant! I couldn’t help myself, I gave him the death glare. He apologized profusely and literally ran out the door. Everyone else thought it was hilarious. I did not. I also had a woman touch my sternum perilously close to my chest. It was her way of telling me I had a button undone. Creeper!!

  7. Erica says:

    Unless someone actually states that they are pregnant I would never say a thing! It is mortifying when someone does that to you. I remember when I was growing up I was a large child. The first time going over to my friends house in gr 6, her younger sisters told me I was too young to be pregnant! Honestly, something I have still not forgotten.

  8. kebe51 says:

    I know I’ve talked about this to you, but I went through a stretch where EVERYONE was asking me. Yes, I’ve gained weight. Not I’m not preggo. STF! My “favorite” moment was when I was visiting my grandmother at her assisted care place. First the lady behind the desk INSISTED I was preggo. She asked. I said no. “Are you sure?” “No, I’m not preggo” She places her hand on my stomach and says: “ARE YOU SURE?!?! I think you are” Well if you think so lady…

    GET YOUR HAND OFF OF ME BEFORE I PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE AND BLAME IT ON FAKE PREGNANCY HORMONES!

    Moments later, one of the residents offered me her seat so I could sit down…you know, because standing while preggo isn’t good for me. AN ELDERLY WOMAN OFFERED ME HER SEAT! She gets a pass though because she was old and sweet and nice about it, but I was still devastated from the other lady who wouldn’t get her hand of my stomach.

    Moral of the story: DON’T MAKE ME PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE!!!!!

    • DarlinRae says:

      I cannot believe some people. Number one: Why would you lie about not being pregnant? Number two: Even if you were lying, IT’S NONE OF HER FREAKIN’ BUSINESS. Number three: Never, ever touch a stranger!! I really thought this was common knowledge!

  9. dgobs says:

    Oh dude. Sorry this happened – so awkward! I agree with Rachel in the first comment about wanting to share this post everywhere, because people seriously need to step off! I was at the Christmas Tree Shop with my mom a few years back, browsing picture frames (not even baby clothes or toys or anything) and this random lady peered over her glasses and made some comment about my mom helping me get ready for the baby’s arrival. Say what?! My mom and I both stared at my stomach and then stared at the lady, totally dumbfounded. When I said I wasn’t pregnant she raised her eyebrows like “oh really?” and just wandered away. I felt wicked self-conscious for the rest of the day!

      • dgobs says:

        Maybe! I really have no idea, it was so random. I wonder too… do people feel bad/embarrassed and don’t know how to recover? I just don’t know. People be crazy 🙂

  10. txa1265 says:

    Holy WTF-city Batman! What is WRONG with people?!? I tend to have pretty solid preg-dar, but NEVER have uninvited said anything … and sure as HELL wouldn’t think to touch another person like that! I wrote a post on things people with kids need to stop saying, and one of the comments was about preg-guessing. Totally agree! There was a woman at work who I ‘knew’ was pregnant a couple of months ago, but only when it came up in a meeting did I say anything. Because I have known people who have been ‘congratulated’ falsely … and it really is about the worst thing you can do … so I will keep my conjecture where it belongs – in my head!

    And the touching thing really bugs me … I mean that is NOT like slapping someone on the shoulder, it is much more of a violation, like “is that a new running bra because your boobs look great ” *squeeze* kind of violation… ugh. Hands to yourself, people!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Yes! Touching someone that you have an established relationship with is one thing, but touching a stranger is totally another. And even with pregnant friends in the past, I ASK before reaching out and rubbing their tummies. It’s common courtesy and common sense that not everyone wants to be touched.

  11. erinnichole13 says:

    I can’t believe someone thought you were pregnant. I haven’t seen you in forever but I’m 1000% confident you never looked pregnant. I would have gone the ‘punch her in the face route’.

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