Bit of a rant today, so apologies in advance here. This kind of shit is going into my scene writing for my novel, so, if anything, it makes for good material I suppose. Anyway, something that my aunt and I were talking about just the other day reminded me of a posting a friend of mine had put up on FB awhile back. It was a scenario I just couldn’t shake, and my talk with my aunt brought me back there…
My friend is having a baby soon, her first, and I couldn’t be happier for her. She’d apparently had an awkward encounter with an absolute shit-wit at a convenience store. He’d waited on her while holding the door open for her and had body shamed her for it—he’d said something along the lines of (and I’m poorly paraphrasing here, but it’s close enough) “You look like you could use the exercise.” The cashier had overheard him and then chastised him for it, pointing out to him that my friend was pregnant, and how dare he say something of the sort to an expectant mother, etc.
Now here’s what REALLY troubled me about the little ordeal and discussion about it that ensued, besides the obvious. It seems so conditioned in us, that we automatically defend body-shamed women who are having or have had children. Don’t get me wrong here. It’s certainly righteous. The horrid cult of celebrity rewards famous women who manage to get back into string bikini proportions mere months after they’ve given birth and shames famous women who don’t, creating a difficult – even unreachable – ideal for mothers and mothers-to-be.
All of it troubling, but that said, however, what of the women who don’t have children and/or aren’t having children? In other words, what about the women who don’t have that “baby weight”? It’s more socially acceptable to come to the defense of a mom-to-be as in the case of my friend, but what if she hadn’t been expecting? Would the cashier have come to her defense otherwise? Would the cashier still have called out the jerkwad who body-shamed my friend? I’d like to think so, for the love of all things sisterhood and wonderful, but out of the various responders to my friend’s story, none of them seemed to take that into consideration. Instead, their reactionary focused more on the gall of the man who dared make such a comment towards a pregnant woman, in other words, a woman who was about to become a mother.
For reasons of the sisterly sort, that just didn’t sit well with me at all.
It just shouldn’t have mattered if my friend had been pregnant or not.
(Image courtesy of alreadypretty.com’s “Body Image and Paradigm Traps”)