Mom Reveals Damaging Effects of "Compliments" on Pregnant Bodies — and What to Say Instead
"Your bump is so tiny!" "You look amazing — I can't believe how small you still are!"
Deena Margolin, one of the founders of parenting destination Big Little Feelings, who happens to be expecting her second child, has been regularly told versions of these sentiments throughout her pregnancy.
"It f*cks me up every time," she wrote in an Instagram post alongside a bathroom selfie she took at her 31-week mark. "I know people mean well, but these 'compliments' instantly turn on the disordered eating voice I've lived with for decades."
"I was terrified of my body getting bigger because that little voice society has programmed me with was whispering, 'You're becoming less beautiful now.'"
Margolin, a child therapist and parenting coach, wants to normalize not commenting on a pregnant person's body — one way or the other. "When we see a pregnant person, let's skip the comments on their size," she said, revealing that for years before her own pregnancy, she "starved" herself.
"I rationalized my over-exercising as 'marathon training' — a casual 20-mile run so I'd be 'allowed' to eat," she recalled. "And you know what? My tiniest days — where I was the 'thinnest' and 'most beautiful' and was constantly complimented for being 'tiny' — those were the saddest, loneliest, most pain-filled days of my life."
When she became pregnant, she was forced to face her biggest fears. She couldn't starve herself anymore or overexercise, but she was still "terrified of my body getting bigger because that little voice society has programmed me with was whispering, 'You're becoming less beautiful now.'"
The goal of her intimate post is to remind others to send a different message: that all bodies are beautiful . . . and that there is thus no need to even comment on them. "From someone who's gone through the torture and suffering of trying to jump through society's beauty-standard hoops, do me this favor: stop commenting on bodies in general, pregnant or not. Let's all agree to stop greeting strangers, friends, with a comment on their body."
She even offered a suggestion on what to say instead. "Please stop asking if women are carrying twins, or if they're about to pop," she said. "When you see a pregnant person, say this, 'It's so nice to see you! How are you feeling?' and leave it at that."