Can we take an honest moment to talk about body shaming? We all know body shaming is a thing, whether it’s body shaming oneself or someone else. Whether the person being shamed is “fat” or “too skinny” people can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves. Some people even think that their opinions of how other people look will bully them into making a change, when in fact it could have extremely detrimental effects on a person’s health. Here are some terrifying statistics for you from an article, “Shutting Down Body Shaming,” by Allison Abrams. “Multiple studies have shown the negative impact of the media on body image. Exposure to photoshopped images of unrealistic body ideals has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S., resulting in at least one death every 62 minutes.”
Let that sink in. One death every hour. Negative body image was also found to have a correlation of suicidal thoughts in young women. With that in mind, can you imagine what kind of effect this shaming could have on a pregnant woman? A woman who is already sensitive to due the rise in hormones thanks to her growing bundle of joy. It makes this woman, carrying the little miracle inside of her, feel guilty for her size, confused, ashamed, and so much more, when she should be showing off her bump with pride. We should be commending her for the amazing things her body is doing, instead of making her question herself and the health of her baby.
WOMEN: I am speaking to all of you. Especially those who have previously been that pregnant lady and have given birth. We need to be building each other up and STOP tearing each other down.
I know, I know. Some of you don’t even know you’re doing it. Words just fall out of your mouth, or you just can’t seem to help yourself. I beg you to take a second before you speak, and think. For goodness sake, think before you open your mouth. Maybe recall that lesson your mother taught you and if you don’t have anything nice to say, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t say anything at all.
Pregnancy does not mean women have a green light around them giving everyone permission to comment on their body weight or size. I know that might come as a surprise to most of you, but it’s the truth.
Like most young women, I grew up with my own set of body issues. I also had dietary issues that I now believe effected me from a young age. Though it wasn’t until I was about twenty when I finally discovered them. These issues caused me to have months at a time where everything made me nauseous and I couldn’t eat anything at all. After being unable to eat, my body had detoxed itself, and I would start the cycle all over again, never knowing the cause. Queue the years of yo-yoing with my health, gaining weight, losing weight, and never being completely healthy.
Finally, I figured out what foods triggered my sickness and I started a road to recovery. Eventually, I learned the right way to fuel my body and developed a healthy relationship with fitness. There was a major mental shift when I did this. I began to love myself and my body and everything it was capable of, which was amazing! I wanted to help other woman find that self-confidence as well, but that’s a longer story for another time.
Having a baby was something I wanted since I was in high school, I was one of those girls. In December of 2016, it felt like my dream was finally coming true. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, I lost my baby. I had slacked off on my health and fitness before that pregnancy and I vowed my body would be in tip-top shape by the time we were ready to try again. Summer of 2017 I devoted myself to my health and fitness and discovered I was pregnant again! Again, we lost the baby. I had surgery and again, had to put my fitness on hold while I recovered. We were pregnant again shortly thereafter with our rainbow, my current growing girl. I was not at my ideal weight, but I did not let pregnancy keep me from staying active and healthy, despite the food aversions and complete exhaustion in the first trimester.
I am proud of the way I continued to keep up with my health, even if that meant taking some modifications, or breaks when I would usually push through. Doing what is best for me and my baby makes me a proud momma. Want to know what makes me even more proud? Watching my belly grow as my Kiara-Talia grows and develops. I had to work real hard to get here and I went through excruciating heartbreak to get my miracle, so I wanted to wear my bump as a badge of honor.
“Look at you! You’re really starting to pop! She’s growing!” I welcomed all those comments, so proud of myself and my little girl. Behind closed doors, I did start to feel self-conscious about my bump. I noticed I was bigger than some of the other women who were staying fit during their pregnancy and who were further along than I was. I had to remind myself of what my body had already been through and that we probably started this journey to motherhood at different places in our lives and in our levels of fitness. Not only that, but all bodies are different, so all bumps are different as well.
I never felt huge though. I still felt like my normal self. I felt good, and most importantly, I felt like I looked good.
On the fateful day that inspired this post, I had gotten my maternity tote in from LeTote* and was ecstatic. I had finally made the change from my regular clothes to maternity clothes and I felt so confident and beautiful in them, I couldn’t wait to show them off.
I wore one of my LeTote dresses to work, feeling beautiful and confident in my new maternity wear. Well, on my way to the bathroom, a new girl stopped me and asked how far along I was. I told her I was about 24 weeks.
Her eyes grew wide as she stared at my belly. “Wow! That’s kind of early to be that big.” I may be paraphrasing, but I mean, that’s basically exactly what she said. She quickly followed up the rude statement with, “Are you having twins? A boy?”
A smile still on my face, masking how appalled I was, I shook my head.
Her eyes were still wide with amazement and glued to my stomach. Again she said, “Wow. OK.”
Then I ran to the bathroom and tried not to cry in the stall after hearing my own self-conscious thoughts about my size being voiced by a complete stranger.
I’m not the only one who has fallen victim to bump shaming. I went to the message boards of the Nature** community as asked other girls to share their stories as well.
Bump shaming comes in all forms. “You’re bump is too big. You’re too small. Is the baby getting enough nourishment?” This causes constant worrying and doubt in the expecting mother that she is doing something wrong, even when her doctor is telling her everything looks great. All because people can’t wrap their heads around the fact that ALL PREGNANT WOMEN LOOK DIFFERENT. No two bumps are made equal. Not all of us “pop”at the same time. For many reasons, ranging from where we are in our fitness, our height, tilted pelvis, health complications, previous pregnancies, etc. It’s not acceptable under any circumstance to negatively comment on a pregnant woman’s size or make her question the health of her baby when you, yourself, are NOT a health professional. Leave it to the doctor. And if you must say anything, tell her how beautiful she looks. That she’s glowing! Pregnancy causes enough stress, worry, and body image issues in the mother. Trust that a small compliment will go a long way.
Statistics in this article came from:
Abrams, Allison. “Shutting Down Body Shaming.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 Oct. 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201710/shutting-down-body-shaming.
*About LeTote: Seriously, y’all, I’m in love with LeTote. It’s a clothing subscription service, except you can RENT the clothes. Yeah, rent as in you don’t have to buy. You get to wear nice, upscale brands, send them back, and get new ones. Does it get any better? I’ve been using LeTote for almost a year now. Their stylists work with you to suggest the best sizing. I will admit this is not a perfect system and does include some trial and error. But as long as you review each tote and clothing item, they will be able to better serve you next time.
They have regular clothes as well as maternity and even some active wear. So yeah, they’ve got you covered for any stage in your life. And no, I’m not being paid to say this. My opinion is my own, I just honestly love it that much. But go ahead and check it out for yourself and get your first tote free!
**In this post I also mention my Nature App. If you are pregnant/trying to get pregnant, I recommend trying Glow (while trying to get pregnant) and Nature (for pregnancy). You can use these apps to track your cycle and health and once your pregnant, track your pregnancy and stages of your baby’s growth. The features themselves are good, but what I really love is the amazing group of women you’ll meet on this app. They are a very supportive bunch and while I went through my two miscarriages, I found a lot of support here by being able to connect with other women who were going through the same thing as me.