My husband and I started going to a new church a while back. We like it, and we plan to stay.
During the morning greeting a few weeks ago, a kindly older gentleman (I would estimate between 80 and 90 years of age) in a very sharp suit greeted me enthusiastically and after Ted and I introduced ourselves he asked me a question.
“Are you expecting?”
Yes, the question. The forbidden question. The one that should not be asked of a woman unless she actively has a baby coming out of her body at that exact moment in time. And even then, probably not.
Despite a lifetime of obesity this was, in fact, the very first time I’d been asked the forbidden question.
My response was to give a short laugh and reply, “oh no – I’m just fat.”
He was mortified. He apologized profusely, wandered off, and then came back to apologize again. On one hand he was really old enough to know better than to guess at such a thing, and on the other hand I felt really bad for him.
I also felt bad for myself. I went home and took the expected long, unhappy look at my round, saggy stomach. I also acknowledged that the real reason for the query was probably because I’d been wearing a pair of jeans that were two sizes too large for me, and were thus creating a fabric pooch over a belly that really doesn’t need extra emphasis.
I know, wearing too-big clothes is a bad idea. And no, I’m not going to stop doing it.
That being said, it happened. It was uncomfortable for everyone involved, but I moved on.
Also, something occurred to me. What had the gentleman really been thinking about me? Not that I was fat, or that fat was a bad thing. He’d been thinking that I was young and vital enough for childbearing and that I looked like I was full of life.
Is that really an insult? Should it be?
We view “looking pregnant” as a bad thing. But it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. There are people out there who would give almost anything to look pregnant. I have a round, soft, womanly belly. It’s not flat. Barring surgery it will never be flat. Flat is not its natural state. Flat is not, I would guess, the natural state of most women’s bellies.
I looked young, healthy, and full of life. I choose to take that as a compliment.