A few months ago after returning home from Kroger, I stood in my kitchen and had just unloaded my groceries. I was angry. I was fuming. Ten minutes prior to that, I was leaving the busy store when an older man, he had to be in his mid-eighties, took one look at me and asked: “Baby on the way, huh?” I was still in my first trimester and thought I had hidden it well, so I was taken aback. I quickly went through the Rolodex of acquaintances in my mind, asking myself if I knew that person. Nope, a complete stranger. All I could think to do was grunt a yes, and I quickly walked out while he shouted, “boy or girl?” My initial reactions were:
- Who are you?
- What if I was just chubby? Rude.
- I guess there’s no hiding it now.
Yes, I am pregnant. I’m pregnant with my second child, and showing a little more this time around, and earlier. The man was right. But it doesn’t give him the right to openly comment on my body. Let me explain my anger since I’m sure you’re thinking, “Andrea, who cares what a scraggly old man says in a Kroger. Just blow it off, it was one small comment, don’t give it a second thought,” as my husband would say. In the past year and a half, I had suffered two miscarriages while trying to conceive another child. I am very protective of this pregnancy, to the point of paranoia. It was imperative to me that I kept this pregnancy out of my mind as much as possible until I reached the second trimester, and I could breathe a sigh of (somewhat) relief. My motto was “so far so good,” anytime a close friend or relative asked me how things were going. And here, this man just shouted it out around a group of strangers as I walked through a bustling grocery store.
After the offending incident, as I went through the motions of unpacking my groceries, I thought of all the responses I could give this man. I spoke them out loud like a crazy person, standing in the kitchen by myself. Most of the comments were insults I could sling back just to see how he took them. But as I started to calm down, I decided that if I hadn’t been so shocked by his abrasiveness, I would have walked my cart back into the store, stopped in front of him, and schooled him. It is 2019. You should not ask a complete stranger if they are pregnant. That is just common sense, common courtesy. But apparently, even now, people think it’s okay to do. Why is that?
My only experiences with this are with men so far. Women seem to just understand the times we are in and the respect of privacy. I’ve seen a few looks from women, and I know they are silently wondering. But they keep silent, which is the respectful thing to do. Why is it that some older men think it is okay to ask a younger female about her body? It has to be a generational thing. They all need a younger person or even an older person who is in tune with the times we are in, to help them navigate this current climate when it comes to bodies in general. He knew absolutely nothing about me. He didn’t know my name, my age, or my occupation. But he felt it was okay to comment openly about my pregnancy. Insert growl here.
Since then, I have had a couple of strangers comment on my pregnant belly. Now that I am nearing my third trimester, I try to take it in stride. I feel a little more comfortable talking about it. But it doesn’t stop me from silently schooling them under my breath as I walk away. Next time, if I’m quick-witted enough, I’ll make sure to educate them.