Illustration by Bob AulTo the apologetic young salesgirl at Torrid, to the overeager sample lady at Trader Joe's and to the countless others who have asked the dreaded question in various forms: When is your baby due? You are making many false assumptions about me based on one physical attribute. You assume I am heterosexual, that I want children and that as a woman with an ample belly, I am expecting. When you asked that careless question, did you know that I would barely be able to fight back the tears? Did you know I would go out to my car and sob violently? Did you know that your words would circle in my brain for hours, attacking me over and over? Did you stop to think that I would never be able to forget? Did you know that I have spent over two decades obsessed with the size of my stomach in comparison with the rest of my body? Did you know I've been on hundreds of diets and fought my way down and back up the scale more times than I can count? Did you know that I consulted two plastic surgeons and was almost ready to cut and alter my shape permanently just to stop the pregnancy comments? How can I forget that I am supposed to hate my body in an environment like this? How can I ever feel desirable, powerful and connected to my body? Self-hatred is not inherent. It's learned. I've learned it from my parents, from my peers, from strangers and from the subliminal cultural messages that are so pervasive. I have been working hard to unlearn what this society has taught me. I have been learning to love my body as it is, even though it doesn't fit in with the current feminine aesthetic. I was born with this shape. I am a sexy, curvy woman. I will never fit in with this stick figure culture. I will not let you rob me of experiencing my body anymore just because I do not measure up to the contemporary ideals. What do I want? I want you to understand how your own beliefs, attitudes and actions perpetuate a culture of female self-loathing. I want you to never ask another unsolicited question about pregnancy again. I expect to be able to walk this world in peace without having to make apologies for my size and shape. I expect you to allow me a respectful space in which I can appreciate my body, experience positive thoughts and feelings about myself, and live a full life. That is not too much to ask.
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