“Do you think she's pregnant?”
How on earth is this an acceptable form of idle gossip or entertainment? It baffles me that people still openly speculate on the pregnancy status of women. Despite a much greater global awareness of pregnancy and baby loss. Despite a whole movement around body neutrality. Despite a lot of women explaining why that is a really unkind thing to do.
Here’s the answer to the question “Is she pregnant”;
“It’s none of your business.”
If you don’t know someone well enough for them to share pregnancy news with you then it’s none of your business. In the last week alone, I have come across actual news articles featuring Kourtney Kardashian (business owner and public figure), Hailey Bieber (model and married to Justin Bieber), Muireann O’ Connell (T.V. presenter and red carpet connoisseur) Martha Kalifatidis (reality TV personality from Married at First Sight), and Jessie J (singer-songwriter).
Of these six women we already know that Jessie J experienced a recent miscarriage, so of course pregnancy is a sensitive subject. And while we have no idea about the private experiences of the others, we don’t have any right to know.
Women should not have to divulge painful, personal information in order to gain protection from unsolicited comments about their bodies.
There is a whole host of reasons why it is inappropriate to make comments about women’s appearance, be it weight, shape, skin, hair, etc. (and I could write a whole other blog about the weird judgement, attitude and sense of entitlement that go along with it) but for today I am going to focus on pregnancy loss.
One word I always use to describe the feeling after pregnancy loss is “raw”. By that I mean intensely vulnerable, exposed, sensitive, and in pain. Like our skin has been scraped and we have no natural defence against the elements.
Commenting and speculating on a woman’s body, trying to guess her pregnancy status, evaluating her appearance and passing public comment is like pouring lemon juice over her fresh wounds. It’s cruel, it’s unnecessary and hateful.
We have no way of knowing what someone is going through in their personal life. We know that 1 in 4* pregnancies end in loss, we know that 1 in 6* couples struggle with fertility, we know that on a population level, thousands of us are coping with bereavement, mental health issues, eating disorders, trauma from sexual assault and more every single day. And we know that dealing with scrutiny and criticism (or even praise) of appearance and shape adds to the negative impacts of those challenges.
There is nothing to be gained from asking the question “Is she pregnant?” There is no prize for guessing first, no medal for getting it right, no benefit to you whatsoever. Just hurt for the person whose body you're evaluating.
So the next time the question is raised “Is she pregnant” you already know the answer; “It is none of your business.”
*These are the statistics for Ireland but do vary for other jurisdictions