Lots and Lots and Lots of Thoughts: Weight Neutral Language

WEIGHT NEUTRAL LANGUAGE: Pregnancy edition.

When I was pregnant with the twins, my body became the focus of every single conversation. It became increasingly apparent (your mom’s a parent) to me that I was gaining weight faster than most of my friends did when they were pregnant. Not only was I aware of this… but every. other. person. in. the. world. would comment on how “huge” I was getting. Multiple people reminded me of how hard it would be to get back to my pre-pregnancy body. As if I didn’t already know.

When someone is pregnant, their body goes through intense changes in a very short period of time. Some people gain a lot of weight (big whoop). Some people stay roughly the same size (big whoop). Some people lose weight (if you lose a significant amount of weight, your doctor can discuss this with you… but unless you are that person’s doctor it is a BIG FREAKING WHOOP to you).

Either way, unless you are a doctor… weight changes are not your concern. [And even then, doctors, be considerate and cautious of how you bring up weight comments.] Commenting on weight will likely do more damage than you know.

I had the experience of gaining a significant amount of weight while pregnant. Comments on this were damaging. Instead of focusing on the amazing thing my body was doing, I was hyper-focused on weight management. I became depressed about how other women didn’t gain as much as me. I cried hopeless tears so much over my body during those 9 months when I should have been crying grateful, amazed tears instead.

I know women who experienced significant weight loss during their pregnancies due to hyperemesis. This condition means they essentially throw up all day, can’t keep anything down, and often have to get a permanent IV to stay healthy and hydrated throughout their pregnancy. When people would comment on how “small” they were (as a “compliment”), these women became depressed because it was a constant reminder of their illness. A constant reminder of how terrifying it is to wonder if your baby is healthy. A constant reminder of how hungry and tired and helpless they feel.

Your surprise at my weight gain wasn’t helpful.
Your amazement at their weight loss wasn’t helpful.

Keep weight-centric comments to yourself. Focus on literally anything else. How strong they are. How happy you are for them. The weather. Seriously… anything but size.

And if a pregnant person comments, “Oh my gosh I can’t wait for this baby to come out I feel so HUGE.” Say: “Oh man, I bet you are feeling uncomfortable lately. Have you found anything that helps relieve some of that pain?” And move on. Don’t chide them. Don’t join them and comment on their “huge-ness.” Let the moment pass and move on.

[Of course, I have said these same things before. I know better now and strive to do better.]