I debated sharing this for a while… This is a personal story that I find connects with food, nutrition, and body image (among many other things)… I’m hoping it will ring true with some So that we can find community and connection in the discomfort. Also, I hope to give others permission to do what I should have done in my situation… and have intention to do so going forward.
I know many of us have been there… When someone we know, maybe even love, makes those well meaning, but entirely inappropriate questions, comments or concerns.
Lately, it seems like they’ve been raining down around me.
Before I dive in, I want to acknowledge my privilege… the comments, questions or false concerns have likely not been as mean-hearted or vengeful as those made on larger bodies, persons of color, disabled bodies or gender non- conforming… I am a straight, white, thin, able-bodied female… and still it seems that my body, the way it looks, how I choose to use it and move it seems to be up for debate. It’s not. And it shouldn’t be for any person.
For me, as of late, I am absolutely unsettled when someone asks or comments or “hints” at babies, I literally want to scream out in fury. Because honestly, unless you are my husband, it’s none of your business and my body is made for so much more than just having children.
I usually try to be nice about it and it goes something like this:
As they coo over my nieces, they turn to me, “So when is it your turn?”
“We’re focusing on our careers and time together right now, also have you seen my corg-babe.” Hinting that there’s definitely other things we can talk about outside of my “need” to bare children.
“BUT WHEN?” not getting it, they cry.
“Ask me again in a few years.” I try to divert and end the conversation.
“ BUT WHAT IF A BUMP HAPPENS?” they pry.
“We’re taking measures to make sure that doesn’t happen.” I feel forced into oversharing.
“BUT WHAT IF THEY DON’T WORK?” they ask, as if they may mess with my birth control methods themselves.
“I guess we’ll have to evaluate that if it happens.” I say hoping I can now escape, because what kind of question was that really?
Fortunately, I have not struggled with infertility, but there are hundreds of thousands of women and couples who do and my heart goes out to them, because this kind of interrogation is not just unnecessary, unwelcome and uncomfortable as it is for anyone who doesn’t want to talk about it, but for them it likely becomes hurtful and harmful too. And here’s the thing: I am not and should not be obligated to be nice about these inappropriate comments and inquiries. Are they well intentioned? Probably. But while I believe they should not even be asked, they definitely shouldn’t continue after they are shut down, as it really is not anyones business unless my husband or I choose to share this information with you. This is not up for conversation. So I am done being “nice”.
And you should be too.
Maybe the unwelcome comments for you are not about having children. Maybe it’s your weight, your appearance, your relationship status, the food you eat, your religion or beliefs, the way you move your body, the way you choose to raise your kids… Most of the time they try to say it comes from a good, well meaning place and that may be true, but for me, in many of these situations, it comes from a very selfish place.
Sometimes it’s the good ole’ “I did it this way so you should too”
Others it’s a “Your body/choices/beliefs make me uncomfortable so you should change” insanity
And occasionally it’s just plain, rude nosiness.
In any of these cases, well meaning or not, you have a right to tell others that these topics are off limits. You have the right to protect yourself.
And you can say it any way you want. Tell them that it is not their business or is not up for discussion. Tell them you don’t want to talk about it or completely ignore the question. Maybe you choose to just walk away or you can totally lecture them on how hurtful/wrong/unnecessary it is to bring up such things. You can continue to be nice if you have the patience… But you are in no way obligated to be.