To the Person Who Asked My Wife If She Was Pregnant

To The Person Who Asked Guest Post

This is an anonymous, open letter written by a fellow fitness blogger that I have known for a couple of years. He wrote this post in response to comments his wife has received and out of respect for her privacy, did not find it appropriate to post on his blog or social media, but asked that others do. I am sharing this post because I too have received these comments from time to time and can recall exactly how much it hurts and what negative impact it has on my self esteem. 

To the Person Who Asked My Wife If She Was Pregnant,

The upshot of your inquiry, was to tell my wife she had the body of a pregnant woman – which is the same as being called fat, if you’re not pregnant. She’s not. She has, however given birth to our two sons, and you’re obviously familiar with the concept of pregnancy’s effect on the female body. My wife exercises regularly, and is an avid runner. She keeps the whole family’s diet on the healthy side, with whole grains, fish, vegetables, kefir, Greek yogurt and supplements for vitamins, probiotics,and DHAs in the mix too. She does enjoy red wine, and has a sweet tooth – we both do, in fact. She is healthy, beautiful and sexy.

So when someone seemingly innocently asks about a non-existent pregnancy, she questions her entire lifestyle and why she puts effort into maintaining her body. Her self-esteem is damaged – she doesn’t feel like the healthy, beautiful, sexy woman she is. Her day is ruined, and as her husband and someone who loves her dearly, my day gets ruined too. I wasn’t present when you decided to ask a personal, invasive question of a stranger, but if I had been this is what I would have liked to tell you, and all of your ilk.

I figure you’re one of two kinds of people. The first type, is simply ignorant of the kind of damage you’re doing by asking such a question. If the little pouch you observed would have been due to a pregnancy, it would probably be in the first trimester, when most expecting moms don’t widely release the news to due a fear of miscarriage which occur in those first 12 weeks; Personally, I never ask a woman about a pregnancy unless she looks like she’s smuggling a regulation size basketball, or if she brings it up herself. I would be mortified if I made the mistake you made – but you don’t care about that, you simply need your nosiness satisfied, and you’re too socially stupid to consider the consequences of your assumption being wrong. I suppose there are plenty of socially impaired people out there, maybe it explains why this happens almost regularly – if it were a one time occurrence, we might be able to ignore it.

Since it does seem to happen every so often, my cynical side begins to wonder if there’s a second type of person who asks a woman about a pregnancy which isn’t actually there. I think you do it on purpose; it is a malicious, passive-aggressive, catty attack on someone who has done nothing to provoke you. Why would someone do such a thing? I’m not sure, but my best theory is that you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and see someone trapped in a cage of self-hatred, and you think the only means of escape is to knock someone down a peg. You’ve actually found a way to fat-shame someone who isn’t even fat (which I’ll admit is a term as ugly as it is subjective), and yet you won’t get called out on it, because the insult is cloaked in warm, fuzzy, family-friendliness. I’d applaud the brilliance of the tactic, if only it wasn’t so plain and outright mean.

If you’re in the former, socially stupid camp, let this be a lesson to you. Women who ARE pregnant get asked all kinds of questions about their body day in, day out. They are treated to labour horror stories, and questioned about every little detail on their lifestyle – what they eat, whether or not they’re exercising, what kind of birth they’re planning. They might enjoy some adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around that stuff – they might feel nostalgic for the “normal” life, and if not, they’ll probably discuss pregnancy details with you unprompted. Show some manners, and mind your own business.

If you’re in the latter, malicious camp, you have a learning opportunity too. While you can do some superficial damage to her (and therefore us), you can’t make us fundamentally unhappy – we have too much to be grateful for. By the same token, your cage of self-hatred is one you constructed yourself, and you’ll free yourself of it not by attacking others, but by appreciating the beauty and light within your own life. Try to build yourself up, and if you can spare the effort, maybe even build up someone else, and do it sincerely. If you still don’t get it, try this: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

I am a size 18 and here’s what I think about it

The internet is buzzing with the talk of the first plus-size model appearing in the upcoming February 9th issue of none other than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Her name is Ashley Graham and if you ask me, she is absolutely stunning.

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley appears in an ad in the magazine that is part of online retailer swimsuitsforall campaign with the tagline “You’ve Got It. Flaunt It.” The bikinis from the Swim Sexy line range from sizes 10-34, featuring #CurvesInBikinis. Ashley is a size 16 and is not to be confused with Robyn Lawley – a size 12 plus-size model – who has been named the actual first plus-size model (and not because she’s expecting a baby any day now per her Instagram) to be included in a Sports Illustrated editorial feature. Robyn will be seen wearing a swimsuit from her own swimwear line. Is your head [pardon the pun, I couldn’t help it] swimming yet?

Robin Lawley poses for the 'Sports Illustrated' 2015 swimsuit issue, on sale Feb. 9, 2015. (Photo: James Macari, Sports Illustrated)

Robin Lawley poses for the ‘Sports Illustrated’ 2015 swimsuit issue, on sale Feb. 9, 2015.
(Photo: James Macari, Sports Illustrated)

For the record, I think both women are beautiful, and I applaud them for their hard work and dedication in staking a claim in an industry that I can only assume in exceedingly competitive with extremely high standards, including an extreme expectation of how beauty should look that often appears to be entirely unattainable for the everyday woman.

That being said, the images of size 16 Ashley are the ones that have captured the most attention, including my own.

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

Ashley Graham, Facebook Timeline Photos- swimsuitsforall

In these images, Ashley appears more like me than any model I have seen in recent history anywhere noteworthy. She has curvy hips and thighs, big boobs and a tummy that protrudes ever so slightly. While I am sure these images are photoshopped in some way, I even think I see a small imperfection on her thigh that might (oh my God) be cellulite.

The rapid internet fire surrounding the ad has been pretty evenly divided between “What are they thinking promoting obesity?” and “Finally! That’s what a real woman should look like!” The comments themselves range from enlightened to hysterical to absurd to downright hurtful. I am saddened to say the most criticism, no scrutiny, has come from the fitness community that I consider myself to be a part of. A community that welcomed me as a plus-sized runner, who now undoubtedly was also entrusted with the expectation that I would one day be something other than a plus-sized runner and therefore my looks were, well, overlooked for the time being.

We’ve heard it said and proclaimed it ourselves that health is not a number, it’s not a size and it is not a result of one factor alone. Health is not exclusively your weight or your jeans size, any more than it is your shoe size. Yet, people have deducted that Ashley must be unhealthy according to her curves. We, in fact, don’t really know if she is healthy or not – and it doesn’t really matter what we think we know. Ashley herself reports that she works out with a trainer multiple times a week, eats well and doesn’t deny herself every last treat, every last time. She is a self-proclaimed “body diversity ambassador” and states confidence, not size, is sexy. She radiates positivity about her body and speaks about she has overcome a long self-esteem battle born of the number on the scale and expectations in her early modeling career. She even has her own Curvy Fit Club.

Both Ashley and Robyn have spoken about how the plus-size label should not be defining of who they are as individuals. The modern idea of what women should look like, garnished from TV, movies and print, has conditioned us to see women like Ashley and Robyn as plus-size, indicating they do not look like they should and therefore, there is something wrong with them. Even when I look at Ashley I think she looks bigger, curvier, fuller, etc. but not ugly or unhealthy.

In reality, Ashley might be completely healthy – even more so than the slender woman you see – and at the end of the day, it’s health that should be the one thing that matters to us all. I can’t really think of anything more valuable than my health, especially since I myself came dangerous close to the ultimate penalty of poor health (self inflicted or not, as in my case), which would be death. It was not until I suffered a life-threatening blood clot in my lung two years ago that I understood exactly how important my health really was.

So, from here and for the first time ever, I am talking about my size. And I don’t mean I have decided to announce it on the World Wide Web either – for the first time in, well, ever, I told my husband last night…

I am a size 18.

(And you know what he said? “Oh, okay. I don’t get women’s sizes anyway.”)

Life went on. The Earth kept spinning. Nothing came from the sky and swallowed me whole.

I am a size 18. And, thanks to Ashley, I am ready to talk about it. All of it.

I’m no longer striving to be a size. Nope, no more. It ends right here, right now. While I am not quite the picture of health right now, a size is not the picture I am going to continue aiming for anymore. My picture looks like healthy – no numbers, no sizes, no measurements.

Truth be told, I am healthier than I was three or four years ago when I first started running. My blood sugar is normal; I’m not currently insulin resistant (and therefore at an increased risk for diabetes); and my triglycerides and cholesterol are normal. Still, I have improvements I want to make. I want to feel better. Even though I feel better than I did, I don’t always feel well. I want to regularly exercise, eat to heal my body and yes, I want to lose some weight to help achieve these things. I want to build back my endurance, my cardiovascular health and I want to have strength in my arms and abs again. But, I am no longer striving to be a number on the scale.

I’ve been hard on myself, downright hateful. When, the truth is, most of the time I strive to look pretty – even beautiful – and enjoy dressing and accessorizing to do so. I wear things I am comfortable in, but also things that flatter my curves. My husband thinks I am downright sexy and you know what? Maybe he is right. I do not see what he sees most of the time when I look in the mirror, but now thanks to Ashley, I am starting to see things a little differently. Curves are beautiful. I dare say that extra weight is beautiful. Boobs and butts are beautiful. And maybe even a little tummy is beautiful. We are women, after all. And even more beautiful than all of that? A woman who is healthy, happy, confident and comfortable in her own body, regardless of the number on the scale.

I am a Size 18.

I am a Size 18.


Until the next mile marker,

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