my coworkers keep asking me when I’m due — and I’m not pregnant

A reader writes:

I work for a state agency. I love my job. Everyone who works in the office is friendly and lovely to work with. Starting about a year ago, right before a lot of us got sent to work from home due to Covid, I was asked by a male coworker in the hallway, “When are you due?”

I smiled. I said, “Oh, I’m not pregnant.” He was mortified and apologized.

We went home for a while and then we were all called back into the office. Shortly after we all returned, three different coworkers in three weeks asked me the same question (all women this time). I always handled it the same way — explained with a smile that I was not pregnant. They were always confused, embarrassed, apologetic. I said it was okay because I knew they weren’t trying to hurt my feelings.

But it was really not okay. I would always cry later, when I was alone. I started to dread coming into the office at all, and especially moments when I had to leave my desk and run into other people. I spent a lot of time in the mornings agonizing over what I could wear to work that would fit our dress code and also make me look the least pregnant.

I went to my manager. He was very nice and understanding. He got the HR person to talk to me. She was also very nice and understanding. I said that what I really wanted was for HR to issue some type of blanket reminder to all employees that they should not comment on their coworkers’ bodies. She agreed to this but I also got the impression that she was hoping that the problem would just go away. She kept saying she couldn’t believe that that many people would think it was okay to ask me that in the first place.

That was about a month ago. There has been no statement from HR. And today it happened again. I was riding the elevator with a different coworker, she asked me when I was due, I explained I wasn’t pregnant, and she said, “I’m sorry. Bless your heart.” We laughed.

HR told me I should come to them if it happened again, but after the last meeting I don’t really want to end up crying and embarrassed in her office while she tries to convince me that I don’t look pregnant. Obviously I do, or this wouldn’t keep happening.

What can I do at this point? My sister has suggested I just start punching the next person who asks but somehow I think I might lose my job, and I love my job.

Agggh, why do people do this? Surely by this point there should be some awareness in the culture that you don’t comment on people’s bodies, and you definitely don’t assume someone is pregnant when they haven’t told you they are. (But we can’t have that because women’s bodies, and especially pregnant bodies, are assumed to be up for public scrutiny and comment.)

But my rant doesn’t help you.

I do think you can go back to HR. If they hadn’t already told you they were going to issue a reminder not to comment on people’s bodies, I probably wouldn’t have suggested going to them at all because realistically, this probably isn’t something HR can put a stop to. It’s a problem in our broader culture. But they did tell you they’d address it, and it’s crappy that they never followed through. If they gave it more thought and decided it wasn’t the right move, they owed you some follow-up to explain that. It’s not okay to tell you they’d do it, not do it, and not acknowledge that to you.

So you could go back to them to hold them accountable to their word, if nothing else.

But because this our culture has made this such a deeply ingrained thing in people, I’d also think about whether you want to change the way you respond in the moment if it happens again. You don’t need to smile at people and respond in a way that prioritizes their comfort over your own. You can look horrified/annoyed/pissed. You can say, “Why would you ask that?” You can say “I’m not pregnant” with a coldness in your voice that means they won’t get warm again for a week. You can say “I’m not pregnant” flatly and without emotion and let them come to the horribleness of their remark on their own. You can say, “Please don’t ever ask someone that when you don’t know that they’re actually pregnant.” You can respond however you’d like — just please prioritize your own comfort above theirs. (And I realize that your previous responses already might be prioritizing your own comfort — handling it that way might be what’s easiest for you, and that’s fine too. I just don’t want you to feel like you have to smile and be nice so that the person doesn’t feel awkward. This is a situation where you’re entitled to just cater to yourself.)

I wish there were more you could do! I’m sorry this is making you think about your body so much at work, a place where you should be able to just be your brain. It sucks and it’s not right.

{ 739 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. AdAgencyChick*

    I read an etiquette column once (I think it was Miss Manners) that said you should never ask a woman whether she’s pregnant unless she’s crowning right in front of you. And even then, the appropriate question is not “Are you pregnant?” but rather “Do you need help?”

    I’m sorry, OP. People just do not think.

    Reply
      1. Liane*

        The language sounds more Dave Barry, but am pretty sure Miss Manners has made similar comments. I definitely recall her writing (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior), “One can hardly exaggerate the rudeness of inquiring into the contents of someone else’s womb.”

        Reply
        1. AthenaC*

          I think Miss Manners said you were allowed to say, “Look who’s here!” if a woman gives birth in front of you, but you’re still not allowed to comment on her pregnancy.

          Reply
          1. Gimble*

            My family is fond of a long-experienced minister who was frequently asked to admire babies of…shall we say…varying admirability. His approach to maintaining impeccable honesty was to respond with a warm and hearty “Now THAT’s a baby!”

            I may need to add “Look who’s here!” to that bank of strategically useful phrases.

            Reply
            1. Crazyoboe*

              I have this problem ALL. THE. TIME. at work. However, as a teacher, it’s the students asking, not colleagues. Not much I can do about that, because no matter how many times I tell a class that it isn’t an appropriate question, someone else will end up asking later.

              Reply
            2. Jess*

              I’m a fan of “Awww, look at that little face!”

              (All newborns looks like grumpy old men. When my second baby was born I told people that yes, OBVIOUSLY she was the most beautiful baby in the world and I loved her to bits, but she also alternated between grumpy old man and constipated frog, and I acknowledged that. She’s transitioned through ‘slightly disgruntled middle-aged man’, put on enough weight to have nice chubby cheeks, and now at 2 months I think she’s genuinely cute. And only sometime froggish.)

              Reply
              1. StoneColdJaneAusten*

                My friend group does group Halloween costumes and the year our friend’s baby was born we were going to be “Rulers of England” so the baby could be Winston Churchill. …And then the baby actually came and as much as we knew that all babies look like Winston Churchill in theory, she was just so wonderful and beautiful to us, we couldn’t see it.

                Reply
              2. Jen with one n*

                A former manager of mine’s wife once told me that all second babies are weird-looking, and she showed me a picture of her second baby as proof (the photo was taken during one of those unfortunate periods most babies go through, plus baby had a really weird expression on her face that didn’t help). My second lived up to that theory and was a skinny, wrinkly old man-looking thing. With a bit of time and weight on him, he turned into a flippin’ adorable baby of course, and all was well.

                Reply
              3. Tupac Coachella*

                My parents literally called me “Frog” for the first few months of my life. I think babies take a few months to finish cute-ing up after they’re born.

                Reply
            3. Nursey*

              Good for the preacher! As someone with no filter, a friend once asked me (about her 2 week old baby) if I thought the baby was cute. It was the most weird looking baby ever, and of course, me with no filter said “God, no!”. This was many years ago (some sort of defence? Youth? Immaturity?) but now when I see a newborn, I always say “wow” before anyone can ask for comments!

              OP, I’m so sorry that this has happened to you so many times. I think you should go with Alison’s suggestion of a flat voice, no smile and a “I’m not pregnant”. People need to learn not to comment on other people’s bodies. We are all blessed with what we have and shouldn’t need to conform to societal dictate about how a body should look.

              Reply
              1. Caroline Bowman*

                I have 3 kids, none of them were… attractive at first meeting. I loved them of course, still do, unaccountably, but you know those precious, perfect little squishy new babies you sometimes see?

                Not like that at all!

                My go-to is ”oh well done! He / she is so tiny/ tall / roly poly, isn’t it amazing? Or if the baby has a mop of hair ”wow, look at that amazing hair”, something that accurately describes the child in a non-offensive / cute way without actually saying ”your baby is gorgeous”. Then I focus on how the new parents are and, you know, that kind of thing. In a pinch, if it’s a cute outfit, I might mention that (”oh LOOK at that gorgeous onesie!”).

                As for the ”when are you due” remark… just no. It’s not even the slightest bit okay, ever. The OP has no need to feel remotely awkward, though it’s a nasty thing to have happen, much less repeatedly. HR needs to step up immediately.

                Reply
                1. Botanist*

                  Ha, and at VERY first meeting when they put that brand new born on your tummy and they are covered in vernix and blood- only the adrenaline of having just given birth made that baby look cute!

              1. ArtsNerd*

                Mine is “you made a PERSON with your own body! What is this wizardry?” (This is only for people that I know for a fact incubated the human in their own abdomen.)

                Babies don’t actually get cute to me until 4ish months or so. But even the ugliest ones are worthy of awe when you really think about how many things had to line up just right for them to be here.

                Reply
                1. wittyrepartee*

                  Yeah, and also- new life! Think of what they’ll see in their lifetimes! Think of all the growing and discovering they will do!

            4. Non-Prophet*

              I attended a church where the pastor used the SAME.EXACT.EXPRESSION when meeting new babies. So, now I’m a wondering if we attended the same church (a very small church in Southern California). Or, are there multiple pastors using the same phrase? I sorta like thinking there are multiple pastors who have been trained or who have learned to respond with this sort of honest, warm response. :)

              Reply
              1. Don P.*

                An uncle who was a doctor told me about a similar strategy. Sounds like it’s just a useful thing that’s gotten around.

                Reply
            5. yala*

              We had a teacher who would go with “Oh, they’re PRECIOUS!”

              Because ALL babies are precious, after all, even if they’re tiny winston churchills

              Reply
      2. Ray Gillette*

        Can confirm, Dave Barry’s wording was “You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.”

        Reply
      3. Database Developer Dude*

        I am absolutely certain it was Dave Barry. I own a copy of the book where he says that.

        Reply
    1. Not pregnant*

      Had this also happen in the 90s and in a loose dress. (Same as another person on the thread. Had gained a significant amount of weight on my frame from being lame from foot surgery, as I used to walk a lot & then took my anxiety out with comfort foods. I eventually lost it all and got in shape, but I still remember that awful self conscious feeling I had at the time.

      I was at a cafe adjacent to a high end supermarket with my boyfriend where you order at the counter, take a number sign, and a server brings it out to you later. There’s live music and usually a nice atmosphere. Nothing fit right, and I was ready to cancel in frustration-but then I found in the back of my closet a hand me down a velvet fringey mini dress a friend left me a long while back that was cute but oversized at a previous time. Now it fit closer and put some makeup on, did my hair. I felt put cute and was in a good mood while me and bf were in the line talking & laughing, and it was our turn to order. A young man who was I guess imitating his best movie mean high school mean girl gave me a steady smirking stare after taking our order.
      “When are you due?”
      My face fell. “What?”
      “When are you due? When are you expecting the baby?”
      “ I’m not.”
      “Oh. Because I thought you were pregnant.”
      “……”
      “Because you look pregnant”. As he hands the table sign over, still Mona Lisa satisfied small smile.
      I said nothing because I was too stunned and thought I’d lose it. Boyfriend said nothing to him but conspiratorially complains about him to me as if that really helped. “ I think he was being a jerk (other word) on purpose” and “ You’re beautiful honey, don’t let him get to you.” I stared at the table with welled eyes, trying to keep calm. When we got our food I asked for takeout containers and we packed up and left. I called the cafe the next day. Not that I think it mattered much. They gave a robotic sorry if you were offended non apology. Probably he was a student near the end of a summer job and was taking whatever frustration out in the service job on a type he felt was a first glance deserving target for his derision, with little consequence.

      Reply
      1. Elle by the sea*

        Oh Jesus, why on Earth people do this?
        I never really carried abdominal fat, but I used to wear dresses which are loose under the chest area. I was 12 when my classmates were incessantly asking if I was pregnant. I mean, I didn’t even get my period! My aunt is in her late 50s, carries most of the fat on her belly and people are constantly assuming she is pregnant. They stand up and give her a place to sit and keep asking her when she is due.

        Reply
        1. Tin Cormorant*

          Once in 8th grade a teacher pulled me aside and quietly asked if I was pregnant. Our school district had a very high teen pregnancy percentage so I could see how he’d think it was possible, but I was just wearing a baggy sweater that day!

          Reply
      2. Ellie*

        He was just a mean kid. The same kind who will call you pretty baby one minute, then fat bitch the next if you don’t pretend to be flattered. I know its hard, but why care about what some stuck up little mean boy thinks? No normal person is going to judge a complete stranger over a few extra kilos.

        You could have called his manager over and complained about him. Or you could have loudly cancelled your order and left. In my younger years I would have sat there and taken it too, but now that I’m the wrong side of 40, I don’t give a crap anymore about making a scene.

        Reply
      3. Caroline Bowman*

        What a stupid, ignorant, nasty thing to say. No wonder you were hurt and upset!

        About 2 weeks after I had my first baby, we took him for passport photos. Obviously I still looked about 6 months pregnant, and when the photographer (a young, oblivious guy who clearly had no malice in him) said ”wow, another one on the way, they’ll be really close in age, nice!” and I cried immediately and very loudly for quite some time. Then the baby cried and wouldn’t stop.

        It’s safe to say that young chap never made any sort of comment in that vein again, ever.

        Reply
        1. Jen with one n*

          I had someone make a similar comment to me – I was out walking with my first, who was 8 days old, and someone was chatting me up and asked how old she was. A few minutes later, she said, “I’m sorry to do this to you, with a new baby and another one on the way, but…” and proceeded to ask for money.

          I didn’t say anything, but I wondered if she understood how pregnancies and biology worked.

          I’m very sorry you had a similar experience!

          Reply
    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I remember when I was pregnant a woman I worked closely with told me a few people had come up to her and quietly asked if I was pregnant. Which of course made me super self conscious that the giant bump in front of me could possibly not look like a baby bump. But overall it was a very large office and while I had announced it awhile ago I’m sure a lot of people didn’t hear, and there were some that heard but wanted to confirm before they said anything to me.

      I feel like “When are you due” is kinda a weird question to start a conversation even with someone you know is pregnant. It feels like the only reason people care is to compare how big you are to how soon the baby is supposed to be there – and then make a comment about twins or big headed babies. It isn’t a question about size, but the intention is totally wrapped up in what size you are.

      Reply
      1. agmat*

        My coworkers ask when I’m due because they are planning for coverage of my work while I’m gone. I don’t expect them to remember my due date.

        Reply
    3. ABoundarySetter*

      My go-to response for this (as it has happened a few times) is “No, I’m just fat. Thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention.” Adjust your tone of delivery for exactly how uncomfortable you want the inquirer to feel. And yes, they deserve to feel at *least* as uncomfortable as you do on that situation.

      Reply
      1. Kellybeeeee*

        Yep, this. I also respond with “oh, I’m not pregnant, just fat.” with enough scorn in my voice to convey how absolutely mortified I think they should be and to convince them to hopefully not ask that question again of someone else. And then I feel terrible the rest of the day and probably go home and cry.

        Reply
      2. A Feast of Fools*

        Yup. I’ve told the story here before about a vendor who flew in to give my team training on his company’s software and we ate lunch in my company’s on-campus cafeteria, which had an awesome salad bar.

        I was in one of those shapeless, thick t-shirt material, long-skirted (to my calves) sleeveless “jumpers” with a slightly dressier top underneath it. It was the closest I could get to wearing comfy pajamas at the office.

        The vendor asked me when I was due. I said, in a tone that I would use for reading aloud a recipe or any other neutral information, “I’m not pregnant; I’m just fat.”

        He stammered something about how his wife is pregnant and she wears dresses just like mine so he just assumed…

        That was back in the early 1990’s. Apparently not much has changed over the past 30 years.

        Reply
        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          That sounds a lot like my self-imposed work uniform (often with leggings underneath). I refer to the sartorial statement as “Amish maternity wear”. Along with carrying my weight in my belly, the clothing may definitely suggest I’m pregnant. (I’m not, don’t care to be, not a sensitive subject.) And, yes, your response is the best I’ve found. Can be softened with a smile if desired, but really they oughtn’t to have commented.

          Reply
      3. Wondercootie*

        Came here to say the exact same thing. My tone not only gets icy, but I get loud enough that anyone nearby will also be made fully aware of the Richard Head in my presence.

        Reply
      4. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That’s pretty much what I do, with the added bonus if they pry that I have a uterine condition that means I’ll have a swollen abdomen no matter what size the rest of me is (it was even pronounced at the height of my ED).

        I also have severe tokophobia – becoming pregnant is literally my worst nightmare and I’ve had to work really hard to not respond to ‘are you pregnant?’ queries with outright terror and panic attacks.

        Reply
        1. ArtsNerd*

          Oh I’m so sorry. I’m not tokophobic like you, but I have a visceral negative reaction to the idea of being pregnant. I can’t imagine having to deal with these questions all the time.

          Reply
      5. Anesidora*

        Yeah, I had this working in a pub. The guy was trying to get a rise or upset me, and asked if I was pregnant whilst I was behind the bar. So without stopping what I was doing I just said “Nah, I’m just fat”. Took the wind right out of his sails and he left. Once he was gone I then went into the walk in frisge and screammed swear words for a while, but wasn’t going to let him see that! (seriously, walk in fridges/freezers are great for venting, no one hears you)

        Reply
        1. Okay, great!*

          What a jerk! This is the second comment I’ve seen on this thread where someone was asking if the woman was pregnant *specifically* to be mean and make them self conscious in reference to weight. I didn’t know that was a thing. It seems especially heinous, though I don’t have the words to why.

          Reply
          1. Carter*

            If I knew a man was saying it just to be mean, I might respond – “No – are YOU? You totally look pregnant! OMG is it twins?? Where are you giving birth? Are you gonna try for vaginal? Have you had your baby shower yet?”

            Reply
      6. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        I have used this line with great success. But if the person asking is an exceptionally pushy coworker/creepy community member, I tend to escalate. “Not unless it’s an immaculate conception. And I haven’t received a visit from Gabriel.” I live in the bible belt and I like making it clear that asking about a person’s reproductive status is absolutely asking about their sex life.

        My favorite was when a pushy woman in the produce aisle at the supermarket didn’t believe my “Nope, just fat.” When I pulled out the immaculate conception/no visits from the heavenly host line, she turned purple and spluttered “Well, that’s just rude.” Pulled out my best butter-wouldn’t-melt tone and said “Bless your heart. That was honesty. You were rude.”

        Reply
        1. ArtsNerd*

          You are a hero.

          Before I had surgery, the nurse let me know my pee test was negative and that I’m not pregnant. I said “well it would be a medical miracle if I were.” (I have not had heterosexual sex in 7 years or so.) Her response was “you never know what God has planned for you!” I was livid.

          Reply
          1. Never Boring*

            My favorite moment like that was when a (very observant Muslim) client asked, trying to make small talk, if I had kids. (I don’t and have never wanted to, so it’s not a subject that stresses me out or anything.) She reassured me that there was still time, and I replied, “I’m 48 years old. God forbid!” Her response? “Well, you know the story of Abraham and Sarah, right?” She was a really sweet woman and I really liked her otherwise, so mostly I found the whole exchange extremely hilarious.

            Reply
      7. Thistledown*

        Somebody at work once asked me if I was pregnant or just getting fat. It was so rude on their part that it didn’t end up bothering me too much. Their judgement was clearly *very* questionable.

        Reply
    4. Douglas Moran*

      I can’t express how much this PO’s me, and it’s because of the spinelessness of HR. They should have *immediately* sent out an email memo. IMMEDIATELY.

      When something similar happened in a group I was managing—a member of my team made a gay joke (not knowing one of our team was gay!)—I pounced on it right away, made it clear that kind of thing wasn’t appropriate, and required the team member to apologize. You don’t “hope it goes away”; you *act*. That’s why you’re in a position of authority; to do those hard things!

      Yeesh.

      Reply
    5. Not a Blossom*

      I worked in the same suite with women on a different team who very obviously got pregnant (or developed very large abdominal tumors while the rest of their bodies stayed tiny), and even though it was obvious, I didn’t say a damn word until they mentioned their pregnancies. IT’S NOT HARD!

      OP, I am so sorry. People are the worst. I’ve been asked twice and I wanted to die. (I also stopped wearing that shirt; it happened to be the same one both times.)

      Reply
      1. Empress Matilda*

        I chose to stop wearing a shirt I loved as well, for that same reason. I’m not actually that bothered if people think I’m pregnant, but I hate dealing with *their* discomfort when I say I’m not.

        One time a woman asked me when I was due as I was getting on a bus. I said I wasn’t pregnant – and she then spent the rest of the bus ride apologizing to me, and her sister is pregnant so she must have pregnancy on the brain, and on and on and on. Lady, I’m not pregnant, but I do have two little kids at home and I was really hoping for some peace and quiet on my way to work! I accept your apology, now please just GO AWAY.

        Reply
        1. generic_username*

          Oh god, when I was in college I was working at a shoe store, helping some woman and her child select back-to-school shoes, and she was like, “You’re so great with kids. When are you having yours?” And I was like, “Oh, no, I’m not pregnant.” and she was clearly embarrassed and flustered and had what has to be the worst reaction: “Oh wow, I had no idea. It’s just… You definitely fooled me!” I was flabbergasted. A simple “I’m so sorry” would have been fine, but she was trying to explain her mistake and the explanation basically amounted to “you looked pregnant to me.” Then she left quickly without buying shoes, so hurting my metrics on top of it all, lol (which we tracked of course – number of transactions vs number of customers entering the store)

          Reply
    6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I agree, with the obvious exception of medical professionals, because they really do need to ask … :)

      Reply
    7. Never Boring*

      I used to coordinate a monthly dinner through a nonprofit I volunteered for, and one very nice woman who used to attend semi-regularly didn’t show up for a while. When she finally did come again, that month she was the only attendee! She looked much larger around the middle than the last time I saw her, but of course I didn’t say anything. Then she commented that I probably wouldn’t see her for a while because she was due the following week! I told her what I had been thinking, and we both had a good laugh about it. (She didn’t look THAT much bigger around the middle! Not like some women who are all belly when they get close to their due dates.)

      Reply
  2. EPLawyer*

    Never ever ask someone if they are pregnant unless you see the baby actually emerging from their body. Even then, you should probably not ask.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

    OP I am so very sorry you have to deal with this. I was really hoping that there was just a rumor going around you were. Still wrong but a LOT less focus on your body. Please take Alison’s advice, return the awkward.

    Reply
    1. Jackalope*

      Yeah, I’ve been asked several times by my doctors (when, for example, they wanted to make sure the meds they were going to prescribe wouldn’t cause issues with a hypothetical baby), but never outside of a doctor’s office. Why, people, why?

      Reply
    2. PeteAndRepeat*

      Same, I assumed someone had spread a rumor! It sucks that people are so clueless. (Even if you did hear a rumor that someone was pregnant, why would you ask their due date when they hadn’t confirmed or brought it up themselves? Not everyone is eager to discuss their pregnancy at work.)

      Reply
      1. Hannah Lee*

        At a job I had years ago, I had the double whammy of a rumor I was pregnant and a project lead who decided (all on their own, without saying a thing to me) that it’s not safe for pregnant women to fly. The way I found out was that I was pulled off the trip list for a conference in San Diego at the last moment. It was just “we’ve changed up the travel list and this guy who is junior to you will sub in for you … you need to remain at HQ to manage these urgent (not really urgent) project things”. I was pissed and dug around a bit to find out why (there are a hundred not good reasons why being pulled from a national conference team would happen so I was trying to figure out if I was about to be fired or some other bad thing)

        To add insult to injury I was single at the time, so there was secondary gossip about a (non existent) affair with a married coworker. I could never completely pin down the source of the rumor, though I had a strong suspicion and my suspicion was less that this person innocently thought I was pregnant and more that I was in a role someone wanted a “pet” to step into or to get access to the fantastic networking opportunities at that conference.

        I was so blind sided by the decision and mortified that I’d recently gained some weight (stress eating and long hours due to the stupid project) that I just let it go. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have taken legal action (for several really good reasons). but I was young and naive.

        This was also the same company that decided to send me and the only other woman out of a week long event in NYC a day early … because the team lead wanted to take the 3 guys out for company paid steaks, martinis and a trip to a strip club! The sexism and boys club culture there was horrendous and I was SO glad to eventually put that place in my rear view mirror.

        Reply
    3. Allie*

      My friend had people ask her when she was due. After her hysterectomy. She’d really wanted kids but cancer had other plans. Just, don’t.

      Reply
      1. Caroline Bowman*

        So appalling. And very often, health conditions that revolve around fertility and the uterus can leave the mid-section a bit disproportionately bigger than the rest of the body, just to add insult to injury. The ladies I know who had fertility treatment or treatment for endometriosis said it was just another layer to the hatefulness of the thing, the fact that people either ask or hint that they’re pregnant. Not okay. If someone wants to tell you they’re pregnant, they will!

        Reply
  3. Lacey*

    People are insane. My mom always got asked if she was pregnant when I was a kid. It baffled me then, because why would you ask that? And looking back at photos from that time just makes it even crazier. She didn’t have a big belly!

    Reply
    1. That One Person*

      I wonder if everyone just wants to be able to note about a woman’s “glow” – because babies are radioactive I guess and we can’t just be happy. Either that or they’re really bad about starting conversations since, even as a plus size lady I don’t think I’ve had anyone insinuate I was pregnant.

      Reply
      1. Save the Hellbender*

        This and also our society’s weird expectation that young married women are definitely always pregnant

        Reply
        1. Snailing*

          Ugh yes, I’m early 30s and for the past ten years, every time I start to share news, I have to preempt it with “No, I’m not pregnant.” And it’s especially at work, too!

          Reply
        2. JimmyJab*

          Yah, I quit drinking over quar and am nervous folks with whom I’d have a drink are going to assume I’m pregnant :(

          Reply
          1. whingedrinking*

            My brother and his then-girlfriend were over for dinner one night at my parents’ place, and the girlfriend declined all alcohol and seemed to be going to the bathroom a lot. It did occur to me that she might be pregnant, but I didn’t ask, because I figured if she wanted me or my folks to know, she would tell us. (It later transpired she had a urinary tract infection – which I also didn’t need to know, but my brother decided to ask her if she was feeling better right in front of the entire family. I love my brother but he’s not always sensitive to context.)

            Reply
            1. Butterfly Counter*

              At my SIL’s wedding, the same thing happened. But she WAS pregnant. But you know what I didn’t do? Make any kind of comment or guess or draw attention to it in any way, shape or form.

              She and her husband told us when they were damn well ready to.

              Reply
          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Honestly you will probably get at least a few comments/questions in that vein. I don’t usually mind those as much though since at least they are a comment on what you are doing instead of what you look like? As long as they don’t get pushy if you respond with “no, just not drinking anymore” or whatever.

            Reply
        3. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          My friend got this at her previous toxic workplace all the time. She has been married 5+ years and they are child-free by choice, but whenever literally any variation in behavior would occur, a rumor would begin that she was pregnant, and everyone would ask her to her face. Eventually, a lot of the engineers (in this company, that means the men) would “jokingly” ask her if she was pregnant (i.e., she had done nothing to trigger the thought, they just decided it would be funny to start asking her again, or to tell other people she was).

          Baffling. Especially considering this was her family company, and her parents and siblings worked there. Or maybe that explains it all, as many of the other workers had seen her grow up, and thought they were entitled to cross her boundaries all the time.

          Reply
      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        My daughter is four and I’m still waiting for my ‘glow’ to kick in, because it sure never did while I was pregnant. Time to give up on it..?

        Reply
    2. KayDeeAye*

      A friend of mine who I’ll call Sally is very slender with maaaaayyyyybe the slightest little bulge (not really sure because I don’t actually appraise her belly, or any of her other body parts, for that matter). She works very hard to stay both slender and physically fit, and she is both slender and physically fit.

      So when a mutual coworker, who I’ll call “Clueless,” asked Sally if she was pregnant, she was devastated. Another friend took Clueless – who was definitely old enough to know better – aside and gave him the “Why on earth would you ask anybody if they’re pregnant? Why why why?” speech. And Clueless felt bad.

      But here’s the thing: Despite being clueless about all manner of things, Clueless never did realize he was clueless. He always considered himself quite the savvy dude, and he would stubbornly maintain a position until he was definitely and conclusively proven wrong. So even as he apologized for hurting Sally’s feelings, he still – you could see it clearly in his face – believed she was pregnant, and that us womenfolk were shielding her for some mysterious feminine reason. You’re just going to have to take me at my word that his disbelief in her non-pregnancy was obvious.

      I’d bet big money that he went around for months waiting for the official notice that Sally pregnant. If so, he’s still waiting, and this was at least 6 years ago!

      Reply
      1. katertot*

        This happened to me!! I had a very high level executive ask me years ago if I was pregnant after an event- and looking back at myself at that point in time there is literally ZERO REASON to have thought I was pregnant- not that there is ever a reason to ask that but it’s just so frustrating because as a 24- year old woman already struggling with self-esteem it was devastating to me! And it was a high level executive that I really couldn’t do much besides say somewhat coldly “no- I am not pregnant.” and leave the conversation.

        Reply
        1. KayDeeAye*

          Exactly. How anybody can reach the age of Clueless – or your high-level executive – and yet somehow miss learning that this is a Very Bad Idea is one of those mysteries that may never be solved.

          It made Sally cry! Which isn’t logical since she knew Clueless and knew how very, very clueless he was, but there it was. What a doofus that guy was.

          Reply
    3. Suzy Q*

      I’ve been asked twice if I was pregnant, and I remember both times too well. The first time was probably 40 years ago by a strange man in an elevator, and that was a long and awkward ride. The second time was in a clothing store, about 20 years ago. Neither time was I pregnant.

      I was also the last person in my last office to notice (or know about) anyone’s pregnancy, I think mostly because I really don’t care about anyone else’s reproductive choices. And boy, I was roped into too many baby showers, which annoyed the fuck out of me.

      Reply
    4. Heather*

      I have been asked a couple of times, and I take great pleasure in making people uncomfortable by saying, “No, just fat” and then giving them an absolutely stone-faced look. I WANT them to be uncomfortable so they regret deeply what they said. Luckily it’s only ever been strangers, so I don’t care what they think. (Anyone who knows me would never, ever think I was pregnant.)

      Reply
      1. Tehanu*

        I do that too. “Not pregnant just fat!” I say it straightforwardly and most people get the point. I have been pregnant so I guess people could think that I could be pregnant again. I don’t like being reminded how big my belly has gotten over the years but here we are.

        Reply
        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I have psoriasis and get comments like “what did you dooooo to yourself? What is it?” I smile and tell them it’s leprosy and contagious

          Reply
          1. Quiet Liberal*

            I feel you! I love your response! As a psoriasis sufferer myself, I am going to use that line.

            Reply
          2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Followed by ‘There goes my eyeball into your highball?”

            Sorry, probably not a PC song anymore, but it’s what popped into my head when I read that!

            Reply
          3. Lana Kane*

            Hah! How do people react?

            I ask because I’ve done this too. My husband has psoriasis. One day we were out at an outdoor market, and a couple walked by close to us. The woman saw the psoriasis on my husband’s arm, recoiled, and whispered to the guy with her “What IS that??”. Guy looks closer, grimaces, and goes “eczema maybe?” Fortunately my husband had his back to them and didn’t see/hear.

            But I did, so I looked at them and whispered “It’s leprosy”. Not sure if they believed me past the initial shock on their faces because I took my husband by the psoriasis arm and led him away.

            Reply
          4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I have totally done this. Bonus hilarity: I did NOT say that to the person who asked me about it WHILE I was standing in the lobby of the Hansen’s Disease clinic of the hospital I worked in at the time, because it was a little close to using them as a punchline for my taste since I was right there – but one of the patients did for me. “Oh, didn’t you know, Hansen’s Disease is the modern name for leprosy? That’s classic.” (Which it was, just, classic plaque psoriasis, not classic Hansen’s. :-P ) the lady blanched and practically ran away. The patient, a 15 or 16 year old, fist-bumped me and went into their appointment while I went about my business.

            Reply
          5. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Not at work obviously but I’ve done the ultimate troll ‘they don’t know but it could be catching’ to exceptionally rude and nosy people in public who are demanding to know exactly what is wrong with me (hey, got a few hours? It’s a long list). Do feel kinda bad for using it a long time ago when a lady was ordering me to be some kind of ‘lesson’ for her child – I was coming back from a very painful physio appointment and just wanted to go home and she would not shut up about how I had a responsibility to teach her kid about disability.

            I don’t feel bad for telling her that, but I sometimes wonder what kind of fear I left the kid with.

            Reply
        2. GreenDoor*

          I modify this slightly to say “Not pregnant…but [pause] *apparently* I’m just fat” with an expressionless face.
          Really drives it home that THEY are pointing out my flabby area.

          Reply
        3. Mona Lisa Vito*

          I’m guessing we all have a similar body shape! I can confirm that the “not pregnant, just fat!” with dead eyes and a giant smile really gets people to back off.

          Reply
        4. LunaLena*

          Ha, that reminds me of an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Hal had a series of flashbacks of stupid things he had said or done in years past, including one where a new female co-worker was introduced to him. After greeting her he added “And what do we have heeeeere” in a sing-song voice while cuddling her stomach. She responded in a similar sing-song voice, “Just my big fat stomaaaaaaach…”

          Reply
      2. Nope*

        This is me, too. My husband and I were out shopping, and we happened to run into an old girlfriend of his. I had never met her before. We are introduced, and that was her very next question. Geez Louise. “Nope, I’m just fat!” and then held and held and held her eyes. Your move, b****.

        Reply
      3. Shannon*

        Yes! I’m middle-aged and fat and carry my weight in my belly. I don’t get this as often with the silver streak in my hair, but a cheerful “nope, just fat!” has always been effectively disarming without being confrontational for me. Assuming those might be someone else’s goals in conversation.

        When coworkers want to discuss someone else’s body I’ve used some of Alison’s scripts. “What a weird thing to say” or “How is this relevant to the project we are discussing?” with varying degrees of success.

        Also for the record I’m really sorry your coworkers are so weird about this. I’ve been fat my whole life, and I know how hurtful off-hand comments and assumptions can be. Good luck with HR!

        Reply
      4. Itsjustanother girl*

        I use the nope, just fat comment too. I had a woman actually put her hands all over my fat belly and argue with me that I was pregnant even after I told her that. Like, I think I’d know if I was, but also, who the eff do you think you are touching me without my permission?

        Reply
        1. blerpblorp*

          I have a friend who is generally slim but when she has gained weight it does go to her belly so on some occasions she’s been asked this very rude question and she did eventually get to the “nope just fat” response. One time the person continued and said “oh well you kept putting your hand on your belly so I assumed!” like that was gong to somehow make it okay!

          Reply
      5. That One Person*

        I’m tempted, if I somehow ever get asked, to respond, “No, how ’bout you?” Kind of curious now what kind of expressions that would garner.

        Reply
        1. Aster*

          yes, this is very good. “No…are you pregnant? what about other reproductive concerns? are you sure??”
          haha, turn it around on them! I will tuck this away for future possible use…

          Reply
        2. Clumsy Ninja*

          Depending on the day, my response might be, “I’m not pregnant, but you’re an ass. So I guess I win?”

          Reply
          1. Okay, great!*

            oops, nested wrong. meant to respond to that one person. clumsy ninja’s response would be the one in my head.

            Reply
      6. HelenofWhat*

        I’ve thankfully only had to use this on my mother (though I was once very persistently offered a seat in the subway, but it was by an older woman and I felt like I couldn’t say no a third time when she was So Pleased too let me sit. I assume I looked pregnant because the were five other people she could’ve offered.)

        It was satisfying, though being my mother she’s not easily shamed.

        Reply
      7. 2020storm*

        The entire time i was actually pregnant, when anyone would ask if I was pregnant, I would say “no, just fat.” The absolute horror in their eyes was excellent. Eventually they realized I was pregnant, but I wouldn’t correct it in the moment. I hope it would make them think twice about asking anyone ever again.

        Reply
    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I remember when I was younger my (teenage!) sister got asked like 3 times within a couple of weeks and it was devastating to her self-esteem. And she’s honestly beautiful! She did have a particularly large chest and empire-waist clothing was the style at that time which is also a common style for maternity clothes so I guess that was what drove it? But I was similarly baffled.

      I also am firmly in the camp that can’t even imagine saying that to anyone. Partly because of the horrible risk of being wrong and partly because honestly it seems kind of boring as far as small talk goes? Like, even if someone is pregnant unless their upcoming maternity leave will affect your work personally do you really care that much when they are due? I mean there are lots of nice and cute things to talk about when it comes to babies but “when are you due” “August” “oh okay” is just not exactly the world’s best conversation and certainly not worth the number of times that the answer is “actually I’m not pregnant.”

      Just stick with “nice weather we’re having” and avoid any thoughts of congratulating someone on their baby until you receive the invite to the office baby shower. (Or if they tell you directly that they are pregnant and are clearly excited about it)

      Reply
      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Sorry just re-reading my comment and I didn’t mean to imply anyone who isn’t shaped like my sister may not be beautiful! I’m just trying to say there wasn’t anything that I would have thought would be taken for pregnant without going into a weird amount of detail about a teenage girl’s body and it came out very clumsy, as did this follow up comment..

        Reply
        1. Susana*

          I didn’t read it that way at all! You mentioned she’s beautiful in the context of her feeling bad about what people said..

          Reply
      2. blerpblorp*

        Eh, I think if you 100% know someone is pregnant then it is a nice change of pace, small talk-wise. If you take a reasonable, non invasive interest in someone’s pregnancy that can be welcome and shows that you care about this huge life thing that’s happening (but of course if the person does not want to chat about it, take a hint!) Usually, when the person is actually pregnant I think the due date question usually leads to more discussion like he sex of the baby and weird cravings or whatever.

        Reply
  4. BubbleTea*

    This is such a weird thing for people to do. I was fully expecting more comments when I was actually pregnant, because I have heard so many stories like this, but not one person mentioned my pregnancy unless I had done so first. Even when I went for my covid jab at 7.5 months! I’d have expected that to be one instance where asking about pregnancy was appropriate. Perhaps the message is getting through in some places but not others.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If the vaccine is safe for pregnant people there wouldn’t be any reason for them to ask.

      Reply
      1. Eulerian*

        When I got my jab (I’m in the UK), they asked if I was or might be pregnant. I said I might be (turns out I wasn’t), and they still went ahead. Even though it’s safe, they do still ask – maybe for record keeping? Research? Not sure why.

        Reply
        1. animaniactoo*

          They asked me, and I asked about it, and yeah – it’s for tracking purposes. It won’t rule you out of getting vaccinated, but they want to track potential side effects to you and the baby down the line if any pop up, and that would be an “opt-in” to being contacted according to the person doing my jab.

          Reply
        2. Elle by the sea*

          They want to collect statistics, follow up and see if there are any side effect specific to a certain demographic. When I got my jab, they asked my ethnicity as well.

          Reply
        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          They’re gathering data for correlation with possible future negative reactions. Penicillin allergy should have nothing to do with this style of vaccine, but it was recorded and an allergic person had to wait an extra 20 minutes on site.

          Reply
            1. Rainy*

              Did you get yours through your regular health care provider? I wasn’t asked about anything but prior reactions to vaccines, and then for my second one, if I’d had a reaction to the first one. (The answer, unfortunately, was yes, so I had to drink a bunch of that dreadful hospital cherr-amon benadryl and then be observed and have my vitals taken in case I keeled over or turned into a blueberry.)

              Reply
              1. Redd*

                No, I got mine through the Walmart pharmacy.

                Coincidentally, I was pregnant when I got my first shot, and they did ask about that. But they didn’t ask at the second, for which I was grateful (had lost the pregnancy and was still extremely sensitive about it)

                Reply
                1. Rainy*

                  Hm. I think it probable there are just different protocols for different vaccine administrators–I assumed I wasn’t asked because any followup they did would all be on my chart already.

                  I am sorry for your loss.

          1. londonedit*

            I was asked if I’d had any other vaccines in the last 7 days, if I was booked in for any other vaccines in the following 7 days, if I was taking any medications, if I could be pregnant, if I had any allergies, and – and this was the best thing – if I had any issues or phobias with jabs. Which I do, and as soon as I said so they were *so nice* and talked to me the whole time and generally made the whole thing as non-awful as possible (it was much better than the first one!) Anyone who has Pfizer here has to go and sit in a waiting room afterwards for 15 minutes because there have been a few very rare allergic reactions, but they do also ask about allergies beforehand.

            Reply
      2. Carolinalaw*

        I’m in the US and they asked if I was pregnant (I was/am). Because I was pregnant, they had me wait longer than others after I received the shot before I could leave in case I had any side effects.

        Reply
        1. Esmeralda*

          I’m over 60 years old. I still have to answer the “are you pregnant” question in medical settings. That’s ok, it’s a health provider.

          What’s happening to the OP — not ok.

          Reply
          1. inoffensive nickname*

            I am 54 and had emergency surgery a few weeks ago. They asked when my LMP was and I told them 2007, when I had a hysterectomy – at the same hospital. When I checked the itemized bill last week, I noticed they gave me a pregnancy test. I suppose it’s better to be on the safe side, but geez…

            Reply
            1. PeanutButter*

              Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is what pregnancy tests actually look for, and can be used to screen for a variety of cancers, including testicular cancer! But since you said emergency surgery, speaking from experience after working in a busy ER, if a female patient was between 7 and 70 and we got a urine sample, HCG was automatically done with the UA, no matter what the medical history was because downstream treatment/care was always smoother if we could put HCG NEGATIVE in big bold letters at the top of the EHR to head off downstream providers wanting to wait until that was done and arguing with them that YES WE ARE SURE SHE DOES NOT HAVE A UTERUS. Petitions to be able to put something to indicate a patient had had a hysterectomy or otherwise was absolutely unable to be pregnant that would persist in the same spot/font as the HCG status flag disappeared into the void of Upper Management.

              TLDR: It’s ridiculous but in the USian healthcare system if you’re female negative HCGs remove a lot of roadblocks in an emergency situation.

              Reply
              1. FisherCat*

                I know the problem is with the system, not individual providers but this is SO disrespectful. If I say I’m not/can’t get pregnant I’M NOT F$*%@ PREGNANT. Testing anyway or repeatedly asking just shows that, as a woman in my theoretically childbearing years, I’m not to be trusted. Hogwash.

                Reply
                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  I don’t think it’s an implication that you can’t be trusted. It’s a way to cover their asses. There are stories all the time about women who didn’t know they were pregnant until they were in labor (there was a whole TV show about it) and OB/GYN is the medical specialty with one of the highest rate of malpractice cases. The premiums for those providers is insane.

              2. Magenta*

                I usually get tested for pregnancy if I go to the doctors or hospital for any emergency, acute symptoms or planned surgery, it is just routine and I don’t think anything of it, maybe the difference is that in the UK I know I won’t be billed for it!

                Reply
            2. Properlike*

              This. Drives. Me. CRAZY. I could not POSSIBLY be less possibly pregnant than I am now. Stop sticking me with that bill!

              Reply
                1. Boof*

                  I think you could rightly contest it but it’s a pain in the butt to do so – grr medical billing

              1. Blackcat*

                Or, on the flip side, when I had to go to the ER, *while obviously pregnant* (30 weeks) and stated I was pregnant (“I was in a car accident and want to make sure my baby is okay”), THEY STILL BILLED ME FOR A PREGNANCY TEST. And $20!
                You would have thought that the ultrasound and fetal monitoring would have the bases covered to confirm the pregnancy. BUT NOPE. Gotta test that blood, apparently. I tried to contest it and they firmly stated it was policy for all female patients, ages 10-60 to administer a pregnancy test. And I didn’t have that much fight in me for $20.

                Reply
                1. quagmire*

                  I had kidney stones 3 weeks after I gave birth, so my husband and new baby and I took a 2am field trip to the emergency room because I was convinced it was my appendix.

                  They made me take a pregnancy test. I was like, “I am still bleeding from the last pregnancy, see this baby, this 19 day old baby? I STILL HAVE STITCHES IN MY VAGINA, you think I let ANYTHING ELSE there?” And it cost like $54 or something obscene.

            3. Boof*

              I know it’s still not right but there are a lot of order sets that build it in; i try to make sure i take it off but i’m sure there are times i’ve missed it

              Reply
          2. Rara Avis*

            My mom volunteered to call elderly residents to schedule COVID shots. Her state was only offering them to people over 60 (or 65?) at that point, but she was required to ask them if they could be pregnant. Bureaucracy! I get asked my birthdate when I buy alcohol at the grocery store, and I look every one of my 49 years.

            Reply
        2. Hananobira*

          Me too. Most people wait 15 minutes but I had to wait 30 minutes in case of an allergic reaction, out of an abundance of caution. They also asked me to sign up for the CDC’s V-SAFE program to collect data on pregnant women and the vaccine. It’s been months and months and so far it’s still looking perfectly safe for pregnant women to get vaccinated, so please do if it’s not contra-indicated by some other medical condition!

          The American College of Gynecologists is tentatively recommending vaccination, pending official authorization by the FDA:

          “ ACOG recommends that pregnant individuals have access to COVID-19 vaccines.
          COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals.
          ACOG strongly recommends that all eligible persons receive a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine series, depending on the product.”

          Reply
        3. Where the Orchestra?*

          The same thing happened to one person getting their shot when I got mine, and we were both asked to wait longer after our jabs (her because of pregnancy me because of iodine allergies). I also heard about extra monitoring over time for pregnancy.

          Reply
      3. dealing with dragons*

        I was asked if I was pregnant or nursing (I was nursing) in case they wanted to reach back out for follow up.

        Reply
      4. Cat Tree*

        That is really…inaccurate and just a general misunderstanding of how medical care works. I don’t even know where to start.

        In any case, I got the vaccine while pregnant because Covid is absolutely dangerous, plus pregnant people are more susceptible to Covid AND more likely to have a serious illness. I was completely unwilling to take the risk of continuing to be exposed to Covid.

        Reply
      5. Lemmingcake*

        I got my covid shot while pregnant. They were stricter with me about sitting around the 15 min to be sure I didn’t have an immediate adverse reaction. Most people could walk around the Rite Aid but I was asked to please sit where they could see me to be sure.

        Reply
      6. Paperdill*

        Currently testing has not shown any reason for it to be unsafe but as it it is still being researched and reviewed, especially in terms of pregnancy, clinicians ask so that they can ensure recipients are making informed decisions about that vaccine they receive.

        Reply
      7. Blackcat*

        If this was back months ago when less was known, there was a good reason to think pregnant women would be at a (slightly) higher risk of allergic reactions. Turned out not to be the case, but until the data came in, it made sense to ask for Pfizer/Moderna shots.
        Slightly elevated risk of allergic reaction is not a reason not to get the vaccine. It’s just a reason to sit in the “allergy people” waiting area for a full 30 minutes.

        Reply
    2. Macaroni Penguine*

      Heh. I was able to get my COVID vaccine because I was 5 weeks pregnant. At my second shot, I brought up the topic that I’m pregnant. Currently I’m part of a low key research safety study tracking how the vaccine affects pregnancy. (Baby and I are both fine. This is expected to continue).
      Now I’m five months pregnant and no one has commented on that unless I’ve brought it up first.

      Reply
      1. Guest*

        I’m a vaccinator and I ask every single woman if they could be pregnant. Even the senior citizens. In 2021 grandmas can act as surrogates for their grand babies. You never know! It probably won’t be long before we start asking every person regardless of gender. People with uteruses are not always women.

        Reply
    3. Jess*

      I don’t think I had any comments either – but I’m also larger and tall enough that my babies don’t make a huge bump. (I actually managed my last pregnancy in my normal clothes, thank goodness for stretchy jeans!)

      I’d be chatting with people, mention my upcoming baby, and they’d be surprised. I’d need to say the opposite “Not (just) fat, I’m pregnant!”

      Reply
    4. Emily Spinach*

      You know where they do ask in my experience is the pool locker room. The older ladies changing after water aerobics can’t stop talking about my pregnancy!

      Reply
    5. SuperPreggo*

      I am as big as a house pregnant and no one has asked me or mentioned it without my prompting. I live in a super woke area – I’ve been hoping it’s a side effect of us learning to be way more aware and polite to other people about questions that may be intrusive/offensive.

      Reply
    6. Ana Gram*

      Vaccinator here! I was given a list of questions to ask for tracking purposes. That included pregnancy, some medical history, stuff like that. Most people had already filled out the questionnaire with those questions, so I just ask if anything’s changed but, if they haven’t, I go down the list. Other than feeling unwell or actually having covid or a recent covid vaccination that we don’t use in the US, we don’t refuse a shot to anyone who qualifies.

      Reply
    7. Katefish*

      Currently pregnant in the U.S., and the first place I went declined to give me the COVID vaccine because I was pregnant (not official policy, just the nurse refusing). I sobbed between pregnancy hormones and needing to see family in another state. Fortunately the next place I went I had no problems. This was April-May. There’s been some good reporting on pregnancy discrimination with the vaccine – that kind of unilateral refusal to acknowledge the woman’s bodily autonomy and administer it. (Ironically, I also had 2 doctor’s notes saying I needed the vaccine, on me, at both appointments.) So glad this doesn’t appear to be a thing in the UK, as it shouldn’t be a thing anywhere.

      Reply
  5. Alexis Rosay*

    My husband had a coworker who actually *was* pregnant but never acknowledged it to him until she was about to take her maternity leave, so he never acknowledge it either. Yes, it was awkward, but far better than the alternative.

    Reply
    1. Aquawoman*

      I had a report who was pregnant and only started looking maybe-pregnant around 7 months. At that point, people started asking me if she was pregnant, which is a much better move.

      Reply
          1. PT*

            This is weirdly mean. I think Aquawoman is fully capable of determining if her coworker wanted that information not shared (in which she could say, no) or if her coworker did want that information shared (in which place she could say, yes.) Or if her coworker had picked a third path (Yes, you need to know this because you work in Llama radiology and she cannot hold the llamas still while they are x-rayed. However she does not want to discuss it AT ALL so do NOT tell anyone else or bring it up to her AT ALL.)

            We have all had that situation where we’ve been The Person Who’s Out of The Loop at work and it’s awkward. It’s natural to want to know if we’ve missed something everyone else knows.

            Reply
              1. Alianora*

                Aquawoman is the one who was in the situation though?Her assessment of whether it was appropriate to ask is better than ours.

                Reply
                1. Former Young Lady*

                  Sure. For me, I would want my manager to respect my boundaries enough not to tell coworkers who didn’t need to know, and to warn them that asking private questions behind my back wasn’t appropriate either. (If they did need to know, as PT postulates, that’s different — but it’s still not on underlings to seek out that information on their own initiative.)

                  It isn’t “mean” to warn people when they’re over the line. It’s mean to indulge them at the expense of others.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              It’s still not yours, or anyone else’s, business. The person who might be pregnant can handle sharing her own information if and when it is relevant to her job. Thinking you have a right to know because you are “out of the loop” is just bizarre.

              Reply
            2. Yorick*

              Agreed. If she has announced it but not made a huge fanfare, some people might not have heard. It wouldn’t be a problem to answer the question in that case.

              Reply
              1. Anon pregnant person*

                Yes. I have not made a big announcement about pregnancies, but the nature of my job means that anyone’s absence for childbirth is most likely such a tremendously big deal that everyone in not only the department but the entire large company will know of medical leave. I told my manager to just tell people it was parental leave, and that is what people generally do.

                Reply
        1. hbc*

          I do think offering that channel for the people who feel Pregnancy Must Be Acknowledged is a good option. I would much rather have my boss have said, “Nope, that I know about anyway” to a half dozen people than for me to field that question.

          I mean, best option is for people to realize that they don’t actually need to say anything about a pregnancy that hasn’t been announced to them, but I’m guessing a lot of those people are the ones who want every passing stranger to comment on their glow and whatnot, and are doing unto others….

          Reply
        2. Old Woman in Purple*

          I *think* Aquawoman meant, it was better to ask someone like manager about possibility-of-pregnancy than the woman herself, tho the response would still have to be “Not your business”.

          Reply
          1. Old Woman in Purple*

            (*Sigh* Please disregard; other comments are better. Sure wish there was a ‘delete’ or ‘edit’ button.)

            Reply
        3. Applestan*

          I agree with PT…Aquawoman is in the best position to determine the set of circumstances for that report.

          And yes there are people that want to know for the sake of being nosy, but sometimes being out of the loop can be a bad thing.

          We had a pregnant woman in our office, Susan, who had been trying to for years to get pregnant. When she did, she shared the news. Everyone was happy for her.

          At one of our team meetings, for whatever reason, there weren’t enough chairs so there were a few people standing. Susan arrived late, and stood by a wall. Jane states, “Oh, no one is going to give up a chair to the pregnant lady?” and insists Susan take her chair.

          Unbeknownst to Jane, Susan’s baby had stopped developing, and Susan was scheduled for a D&C the next day. Susan had passed the information on quietly, and had stated she didn’t want to discuss it (offers of condolences would have just broken her down, and she was struggling with the news as it was).

          Jane was absolutely devastated and mortified about her comment when someone told her the news after the meeting (we didn’t realize Jane didn’t know, we thought everyone had been told).

          So yes, sometimes people are nosy, but sometimes, it’s just a matter of logistics or caring about people’s feelings. And my example is extreme, but it’s to point out that yes, perhaps that manager is in a better place to know how that report would want the situation handled, and we should respect that.

          Reply
      1. Cj*

        When I started this job, the woman who did my orientation looked about months 6 – 7 months pregnant. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t work with her after that as we are in different departments so didn’t really get to know her so that she would mention being pregnant, but I could see her belly growing by the week. I finally did ask a co-worker, and yes, she was pregnant. But I didn’t not say a word to her until it was confirmed by someone else.

        Reply
      2. SuperPreggo*

        I am really pregnant and I really hope people are spreading it around for me. I just don’t feel like announcing it constantly with the same conversation over and over.

        Reply
    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I did the same with one of my co-workers – until she wanted to discuss her plans for maternity leave, I didn’t say anything about it. Having been in the same situation as the letter writer a few times, there was no way I was going to potentially do that to someone else.

      Reply
    3. The Original K.*

      I worked with a woman who didn’t acknowledge her pregnancy until her baby shower, at least not widely. She told our boss and her closest work friend and I assume she gave them the OK to do the shower. Once we had the shower, we acknowledged it for the month or two before she took her maternity leave.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same; my boss at OldExjob was pregnant and even after it was REALLY obvious, I never said a thing until she told me herself.

        Reply
      2. A Coworker*

        LOL, am I the pregnant coworker here? That’s what I did! It helped that I didn’t show until I was 6+ months and mostly hid behind my desk.

        Reply
    4. Nanani*

      How is it awkward? Planning for leave is planning for leave. If he’s not involved in the planning, it’s literally none of his business.

      Reply
      1. Green great dragon*

        Over the last wfh year, two close colleagues became pregnant. And because we only see them from the neck up, no-one had the faintest idea until they let us know they’d be out on maternity leave in a few weeks. And it was Absolutely Fine and caused Zero Problemsto have no mention of pregnancy until the ads went out for maternity cover.

        Reply
      2. Hil*

        Thank you. This isn’t awkward at all. No one needs to know what’s going on with you medically or your family news if it’s not effecting work. As long as they plan for their leave, it’s really no ones business and no one is obligated to share.

        Reply
    5. Cambridge Comma*

      I did this at work because I knew the baby had a 5% chance of survival and I didn’t want to talk about it. I did then show up in the office with a (ridiculously healthy) baby I hadn’t mentioned to anyone, but since I got to bring him home, I couldn’t care less about any awkwardness.

      Reply
      1. Where the Orchestra?*

        Yup – I got asked once if I was pregnant at work and I turned the question away with a “why do you think you need to know that answer.”
        In actuality I was pregnant, but not ready to tell anybody yet because I had lost pregnancies previously. I eventually had two healthy kids, but there were losses in the mix as well. You never know what someone may be dealing with, it’s just not ever a really safe question to ask of any woman.

        Reply
  6. TapDancingCats*

    Oh, dear, LW, I am so sorry this is happening to you. I have aged out now, but I used to have that happen now and then — though thankfully never at work.

    I don’t think I ever did better than the first time it happened — I was genuinely confused by the question and so I said something like, “Due? I’m not sure what you… due for what?” The guy turned red, mumbled something, and wandered off to wait for the bus far away from me. A minute later it dawned on me what he’d been asking (I can be a bit slow on the uptake), and I was both angry and mortified.

    A flat stare and “Due for what?” or “What do you mean?” might be one way to respond. Make them explain themselves. And don’t worry about embarrassing anyone — they should be embarrassed!

    Reply
    1. Hey Nonnie*

      Or simply respond with your current work deadlines and don’t even acknowledge that there could have been a different meaning to the question… at work. Return awkward to sender and blithely remind them that reproduction is not an appropriate office topic.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ahh ha ha ha, I like this one.

        Coworker: “So when are you due?”
        OP: “The TPS report for Ferguson Enterprises should be finished August 6, after Mike does the data analysis.”
        Coworker: *blink*

        Reply
          1. Rebecca Stewart*

            At this point I would say, “My baby is 22 and has his blond hair dyed blue and likes guys with snarky personalities and lots of piercings.”

            Reply
    2. Where the Orchestra?*

      I was a big fan of a blank stare and the phrase “why do you ask?”
      Alternate ones I used in the past:
      -what is your concern?
      -why do you think you need that answer?
      -oh thank you, yes my library books are due tomorrow.
      -excuse me?
      -arched eyebrow like Spock while staring blankly

      Basically my point was returning the awkward to sender.

      (And sadly I’m a short size 8 – it really doesn’t matter what size you are for some people to decide they need to eat the mud off their own boots.)

      Reply
      1. GreenDoor*

        I have used all of Where the Orchestra?’s list…but I will add my favorite:
        “What makes you think I’m pregnant?” Followed by cocking my head to the side and raising an eyebrow quizzically and silence.
        I can’t tell you the number of times the person has started to say, “Because you look like – ” and then realized their gaffe. Even more delightful are the number of people who visibly squirm as they try to figure out a way to back out of the awkwardness they just created.
        OP I completely agree with Alison’s advice – this is definitely an area where you do not need to police your tone so the other person doesn’t have to feel bad about making you feel bad.

        Reply
        1. Salsa Verde*

          Definitely “why do you ask?” or “what makes you think I’m pregnant?”

          I think this approach has been discussed here as a way to deal with all kinds of rude questions or jokes – make the speaker explain exactly what they mean, and it makes it obvious how rude they are, if it was not already obvious to everyone!

          Reply
      2. Prof Space Cadet*

        A variation of this that I once overheard:

        Co-Worker #1: I thought that we were friends! Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant?
        Co-Worker #2: Really? You heard I was pregnant?
        Co-Worker#1: That’s what Julie in accounting said.
        Co-Worker #2: Well, that’s news to me, because if I am, the daddy is Jesus.

        Reply
        1. KaciHall*

          My friend group was joking about who my baby daddy was, and it was making my husband (and only possibility) upset. (We’d been using condoms while I was off the pill so it was a surprise.) My best friend asked if I had seen any swans nearby, because you never know with Zeus. So then the conversation became which gods we would most like to be baby mommas for.

          It was an interesting night. And sometimes we still blame my kid’s bad behavior on the non- existent swan.

          Reply
        2. Ally McBeal*

          I’m the a-hole who takes it a step farther – I was raised evangelical, so I start going off on a tangent about how prophecy says that the next time an immaculate conception happens, it’ll be the literal Anti-Christ and the end of the world/Apocalypse/Ragnarok is nigh. They back away REALLY quickly after that, I promise.

          Reply
    3. Hobbit*

      I had a similar experience at a grocery store. This 18 YO cashier asked me “about the baby?” I had no idea what he was talking about and started looking around for a screaming toddler or something. He asked me again. It was loud in the store & I didn’t hear him very well. I said “What baby!?!?” His face turned beet red and he started back peddling. He was going on about his friend on FB who would not give him any info about her pregnancy. After I recovered and was to the point where I could laugh it off (but not really) It told my friends. They pointed out that the guy’s manager probably told him to make small talk with the customers. (Of course, they agreed that that is NEVER a question you ask) Either way, I hope he learned a very important lesson that day.

      Reply
    4. EPLawyer*

      I actually LOVE this response. Slow can be good sometimes. (I win the slow on the uptake Olympics so I can be supportive of my fellow What???? folks)

      Reply
    5. bob*

      Ha! This happened to me, too! Remember those 90s A-line tops? Well, I guess someone thought that I was pregnant underneath (overweight but not dramatically so). My honest reaction of “Due for what?” still makes me laugh. At least it hopefully saved some other person dealing with Nosy Nellie.

      Reply
      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Ooh, I had a few of those tops (and matching stirrup leggings!) and was asked that question over while wearing one. I wasn’t overweight at the time and was confused, then upset.

        Reply
    6. tinybutfierce*

      I LOVE this response to that awful question and want to HEARTILY second the last bit of your comment. If the OP is comfortable doing so, they have every right to return the awkwardness and embarrassment right to sender. These people are being tremendously rude and should rightly be embarrassed as hell.

      Reply
    7. SheLooksFamiliar*

      ‘Deliberate misunderstanding’ is one of my favorite ways to handle rude and/or personal questions. The person might ask me nosy questions once, but they rarely do it again once I’m through with them.

      Reply
    8. k8orado*

      I also accidentally had a response like this that was surprisingly effective. A (very senior, female) executive asked if I was pregnant and I was so shocked and upset that I just stared silently and started to cry as the elevator doors slowly closed between us. She was obviously mortified and wrote me a whole apology note! It was awful at the time but very, very funny afterward, and I suspect I’ve cured her of ever doing that again.

      Reply
      1. tangerineRose*

        I was thinking about recommending this response. I mean, really, this is such an inappropriate question, and it can hurt people’s feelings.

        Reply
      2. LS*

        I honestly think this is the best response. If you suggest you’re offended or annoyed by the question, the person who asked it will get offended in turn and/or defensive. If you suggest you’re HURT by the question, the person is more likely to apologize and think twice about asking the next person.

        Reply
    9. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Someone once asked me “Are you carrying?” and I was so confused. My first thought was, are they asking if I’m *concealed* carrying – like – a gun??

      But no, they thought I was pregnant. And then they told me not to be offended because “pregnant bellies are cute”. Sigh.

      Reply
        1. Properlike*

          Followed by being sorry I didn’t carry a gun, but at least I wouldn’t be going to jail that day.

          Reply
      1. Gumby*

        That is quite vague. I would probably also go to gun as my initial interpretation. But then… a recessive gene? A disease? Emotional baggage? The one? In fact “a baby in your womb” would be pretty far down on my list of possible meanings.

        Though in practice “are you carrying?” “no, I don’t have a permit” could lead to an amusing exchange.

        Reply
      2. Penny Parker*

        If someone asked me if I was “carrying” I would assume they were asking if I had any cannabis on me. (living in an illegal state here)

        Reply
    10. Nicotene*

      I don’t think it will make OP feel better, but FWIW a coworker asked me “when I was due” – I am a painfully thin single woman of a Certain Age; I don’t have a belly at all although perhaps I was standing in a certain why or it wasn’t the most flattering outfit – but still. I have no idea why she thought it would be okay to ask this (to be fair, she was of a different nationality so perhaps it’s not as horrific in her native country). At the time I had to just laugh it was so rude. So please don’t take it as something horrific about you, OP. Some people are stupid, that’s all.

      Reply
    11. Elizabeth I*

      Great response!

      Back in the mid-2000’s when I was newlywed and wearing one of those longer button up shirts that were in style then, I was asked by a coworker, “are you pregnant or is that just a cool shirt?” I answered, “it’s just a cool shirt”.
      I remember thinking, hey at least she gave me an “out” to save face in the moment? Yet I kept thinking about it all day and realized after I got home from work how much it had really bothered me. I never wore that shirt again, even though I HAD originally thought it was pretty cool. She ruined in for me.

      And for additional context, I was a size zero. Sometimes it’s not at all about size – it’s “you’re newly married, you’re wearing a style that *could* potentially disguise an early pregnancy tummy, therefore you MUST be pregnant, and therefore I MUST know!” It’s just so rude and presumptive.

      Reply
      1. Where the Orchestra?*

        For some rude people I’ve run into – all that’s needed was being female and wearing a wedding band. Age and body shape not too concerns.

        Like I said elsewhere, some people really just have a strong desire to find out what the mud on their boots tastes like.

        Reply
      2. Batgirl*

        I have a shirt you could definitely hide a baby bump in and you will take it from my cold dead hands.

        Reply
  7. Sparkle Consultant*

    This is horrible! I’m sorry your coworkers are being so rude! I once had a boss spread a false rumor that I was pregnant and it was not fun shutting it down.

    You might enjoy answering the question super literally as though you have no idea what they are trying to get at. Maximize confusion and then walk away. “When is my project due? I don’t have any major deadlines at the moment, but let me tell you about this interesting work thing…”

    Reply
    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

      I had a work associate attempt to start a rumor like that about me (maybe trying to discredit anything I was doing? I don’t have a clue why.) but it was very easy to shoot down and it never grew legs. He randomly started telling people at a networking event that we were both at that I was. I joined my friends at the bar for shots, which wasn’t out of place for this event or industry. A few people did ask about what they’d heard about ten minutes earlier, and I just looked confused and said “he must be talking about the wrong woman, and its very confusing why he’d say that at all. Anyways, he’s wrong, thanks.”

      Reply
  8. EH*

    People can be so awful! Even (maybe especially) when they don’t mean to. OP, if you’re up for it, definitely return the awkward, freeze them with a frosty response, or otherwise make it clear they are in the wrong.

    There’s an instinct ingrained in folks raised as girls where we always have to make sure the other person isn’t uncomfortable, even when they have hurt us. Fuck that.

    Reply
  9. Green*

    This happened to me with an administrative assistant who asked me MORE THAN ONCE if I was pregnant. She was heavier than I am (so it wasn’t generally weight-based) but apparently she was convinced that I was pregnant based on the way I carried my weight and would not accept no for an answer.

    I asked to switch administrative assistants the second time this happened because after one time you don’t get the benefit of the doubt, and the second time she actually challenged me and said “Are you sure? Because it looks like you are.”

    Reply
    1. jm*

      ugh, i gain weight in my gut first so i’ve fielded occasional questions like this multiple times over the years. it always sucks and LW, i’m so sorry your coworkers are making you feel like this.

      Reply
      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        Even when I was younger and skinnier I always had a rounder belly. It’s just where I carry weight. I was working as a pre K teacher and this was circa everyone wearing layered colored tank tops during the summer. Had a whole slew of them in different colors, same size from the same store. Apparently 1 was a little snugger across the belly then others and one day a boy in my class eye balls me and asks if I “had a baby in my tummy” (a teacher in another class room had recently had a baby so it was still fresh in their little minds) Before I could reply my entire class decided to chant “Ms My Name Here has a baby in her tummy”. Repeatedly. At volume. I ended this stalemate by reminding them I controlled how long recess and nap time were.

        Reply
        1. Designdork*

          I feel like kids get a pass to a certain extent. My 2 year old niece seems to think that bulging belly=baby. She insists that both her and I are pregnant after a big meal because we now have bigger bellies. She didn’t seem to get that more than one thing can cause a big belly. (Her mom is pregnant with a new little sibling and shes super excited about it, but maybe doesn’t understand the nuance lol)

          Reply
          1. Where the Orchestra?*

            Agreed – I think kids under about sixish get a bit of a pass since they are still developing the brain to mouth filter. Adults however, don’t get that same pass, their filter should be well developed by the time they get to high school.

            Reply
          2. CaliUKexpat*

            Yeah agree with this. My 6yo neice did this to me a couple weeks ago because she’s going through that stage of noticing that different people have different bodies. What she had not been informed of, was that I had tfmr/stillbirth in February. To be fair I do still have the postpartum belly and put on weight from comfort eating, so I do still look it somewhat. But the horrified gasp from her mum told me that would be addressed later so I just said no.

            Anyone else though, and any other circumstances. They’d be getting a VERY blunt earful. So yeah… seriously people, just don’t.

            Reply
          3. Jenny20*

            Oh for sure. When I was a little kid, I was convinced that a male neighbour was pregnant because he had a prominent beer belly. Took me a few years of growing up to realize he was not. Kids should definitely get a pass.

            Reply
        2. Tessie Mae*

          I’m sorry, but the image of a class of pre-K kids chanting this, at volume, literally made me laugh out loud.

          Reply
          1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

            With me saying back to my chanting little flying monkeys “It’s not a baby, It’s McCalories!!” I had a lot of laughs and fun when I worked childcare. Don’t miss the low pay and the long hours but man I made memories at that job. Most of the kids I taught now range from old enough to have their own kids that age to highschool age. It’s been fun keeping up and watching them grow on social media.

            Reply
          1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

            Once had 2 school agers in the afternoon van that was quietly discussing a mom that had recently had a miscarriage. All of a sudden one asked me “Miss Insert My Name Here, how does the doctor get the dead baby out of the mom’s belly?” I answered “Very carefully.” And luckily there was no follow up questions. I tipped off both sets of parents to the conversation I over heard just incase they came up with additional questions at home. Not what I was expecting to deal with in addition to traffic that day. Kids keep you on your toes.

            Reply
    2. Nora*

      I’ve had this happen with the front desk administrator at my office!
      “Oooh are you having a baby??”
      “No.”
      “Are you sure????”

      Reply
      1. Green*

        Was inclined to leave a jar of urine on her desk but don’t think that would have gone over well either. :)

        Reply
        1. AFac*

          “Are you a reliable pregnancy test? Shall I pee on your hand to make sure?”
          (Don’t do this. I’m awful. :P )

          Reply
    3. Observer*

      That’s INSANE.

      I hope that whoever was actually managing her noted this, explained to her why she MAY NOT say such things to people, and watched her like a hawk after that. This is NOT someone I would trust around people.

      Reply
    4. Dagny*

      “I assure you, you are not more knowledgeable about the contents of my womb than I am. You can take my word for it or you can take HR’s word for it.”

      Reply
    5. hbc*

      My boss was told she was wrong once, but at least she was in a foreign country. The guy apparently assumed there was a problem understanding his accented English and said, pointing at her stomach, “Yes, you have a baby in there.”

      Reply
    6. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      I had a woman once double down like that!
      Her: “Are you pregnant?”
      Me: “Nope, just a little chubby.”
      Her: “Oh. But were you pregnant recently??”

      I was so astonished that she’d keep it up that I just stared her dead in the eye and said “Yes. I had a miscarriage. Thanks for bringing it up.” At least after that she had the good sense to look embarrassed.

      (FWIW, this was actually true – a few months before this conversation I’d discovered I was unintentionally pregnant, and miscarried before I had to make any Big Decisions about it. I wasn’t anywhere near far enough along to have started showing, though – this was definitely a comment based on the body I usually have.)

      I can’t say I really recommend it as a course of action, but it is a real conversation-stopper if you’re feeling bold and aren’t likely to see that person ever again.

      Reply
      1. Turanga Leela*

        A therapist I know refers to this as a STFU answer. If you’re willing to go there, STFU answers are VERY effective.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

        Reply
      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Speaking from personal experience, it doesn’t necessarily shut them up even if it’s true and you’re visibly upset.

        Some people do actually just suck that badly.

        (I’m sorry for your loss)

        Reply
        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          Thank you both! It was years ago now, and very much turned out for the best – I was not at a place in my life where having a kid would have been ~at all~ a good idea, so ultimately it was a blessing in disguise (strange though it sounds to say). But thank you for the kind words, and for the concept of a STFU answer. Keeping that in my back pocket. :)

          Reply
        2. Ally McBeal*

          This isn’t the same as pregnancy, but a total stranger (on public transit) once asked me where I’d gotten my ring, I told her from my dad, she asked if we were close, I told her he died, and SHE ASKED ME HOW HE DIED. I immediately turned my back on her and ignored her until one of us disembarked.

          Reply
    7. Stacy*

      I’ve also had someone ask me if I’m pregnant, then argue with me when I said I’m not. She went into detail about how I was definitely pregnant and having a boy based on my hip shape. It was….uncomfortable….

      Reply
      1. Old and Don’t Care*

        I just watched Hamilton today, and the response that popped into my head was “You must be out of your goddamn mind”…

        Reply
    8. pretzelgirl*

      I HATE when people ask if you’re sure. Yes, I am *expletive* sure. Its my body I know!

      Sorry I have relatives that do this to me, because they are obsessed with the fact that I am going to get pregnant again. Even though we are done, have taken permanent steps to ensure so. Also we struggled with infertility for many years. So it just really hurts my feelings!

      Reply
      1. Where the Orchestra?*

        Yup – I had that relative too. I eventually had to ask her how many other children she had who were going to assist with her desire to have enough grandkids to field a baseball team. She finally shut up about it.

        Reply
        1. pretzelgirl*

          For some reason this relative is obsessed not because she wants more, but bc she is convinced I will have more and it will be TERRIBLE!!! My life (according to her) is already ruined bc I have 3 kids. She is sure I will mess up and get pregnant.

          Finally I told her. “Look if I get pregnant again, my husband’s urologist is going to be paying for said 4th kid’s education and a new house for the family”. I’ve actually had to say this more than once.

          Reply
      2. Krabby*

        Yes! My husband and I struggled to conceive for many years and I got asked if I was pregnant a few times. SO upsetting in so many different ways. Assuming someone is pregnant or asking about their reproductive decisions is honestly the rudest thing I can think of to do to somebody.

        Hilariously, now that I AM pregnant? Not a single question or assumption.

        Reply
    9. KTM*

      Yep. Same happened to me. She doubled down after I told her I wasn’t pregnant (in a whole-heartedly frigid way) and she took it as some sort of coy game that I just wasn’t going to admit I was pregnant and said two more times “yes you totally are!” until the (male) colleague who I was walking down the hall with cut her off out of mortification and told her to drop it. I never wore that dress again.

      Reply
    10. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Advance warning: I am not recommending this response of mine because it could go seriously badly. It’s just a funny story.

      About 6 years ago I had a coworker who was convinced that any woman married to a man was a) straight (I’m not) and b) always pregnant or trying to be pregnant. Could not stop his ‘oh but seriously you must be at least be hoping for a baby’ stuff. One day he cornered me in the server room and said again that I must be pregnant and whatever eldritch forces look after server racks took over and I told him ‘nope, never gonna happen because I like it up the *redacted*’

      (Seriously I was lucky nobody else overheard)

      Reply
    11. Constance Lloyd*

      I had a coworker try to HIGH FIVE ME in front of a group of our colleagues for being pregnant. I was not. I spluttered a genuinely shocked, “Why did you think that!?” She replied, “Because you look like it!”

      Mouth agape, I couldn’t quite form a response, but another lovely coworker scrambled to cover with a stunned, “…because she’s glowing?”

      This was brilliant! She gave each of us a gracious out from an uncomfortable situation! But alas, original coworker countered with a confident, “No, because of her stomach!”

      By this point I had gathered my wits and only wanted to make her uncomfortable for assuming and then doubling down. I sweetly and serenely announced to her, “Oh no, I’m not pregnant. I’ve just been terribly constipated for a few days now. I appreciate your concern, but I’m sure it will all work itself out soon enough.”

      Reader, this coworker never commented on the appearance of my stomach again.

      Reply
  10. Designdork*

    I wonder what kind of office OP works in that 5 seperate people asked her this horribly offensive question. Like what ever happened to talking about the weather for small talk.

    Reply
    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I know. I’m super curious if there is an industry or region where this is considered acceptable.

      Reply
      1. Former Young Lady*

        I live in the intermountain west. Sensible people here know it’s off-limits, there are a lot of people who think the reproductive plans of strangers/acquaintances are an acceptable “icebreaker.”

        Invasive questions in general fly around a lot. Are you pregnant? Do you want to get pregnant? When are you going to get married? Are you a natural blonde/redhead? How much did you pay for that? What religion are you? What’s your (ethnic) background? Are those real diamonds? I bet I can guess your age/weight/dress size in front of this crowd: is it (number)?

        Reply
        1. Pescadero*

          “How much did you pay for that?”

          That is considered a polite question that everyone wants to be asked in the Midwest.

          Reply
    2. Still Annoyed*

      I honestly wonder if it was my old office. When I was pregnant and quietly told the staff (all professionals with a master’s or PhD), the #1 response from them was some variation of, “Oh, we were all wondering why your boobs are so big! We thought you had a boob job.”
      Not one single person just said, “Congratulations.” Not one. Nope. They ALL commented on my chest size.
      I am still agog at the effrontery (to get all Jane Austen about it) of commenting on a coworker’s body like that. I mean really. Let’s make the pregnant woman SUPER self-conscious in her workplace by not only commenting on her body, but letting her know we’ve all been talking about her body.

      Reply
      1. FunTimes*

        YIKES. When I told my (female) boss I was pregnant, she said, “Oh, I wondered if that was it, or if you were just getting fat.” And I thought that was bad! The boobs comment is disgusting.

        Reply
      2. Ocean of Ramen*

        When I told my boss I was pregnant her first comment was, “Oh, so THAT’S why you stopped eating. I was afraid you were anorexic!” I had HG for the first trimester and couldn’t even keep water down, let alone food. Apparently all my teammates had noticed and were trying to suss out what was going on.

        Reply
          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Similarly, “I thought you had a drinking problem.”

            I was puking A Lot, to be fair, and she had only known me for a few weeks.

            Reply
        1. Roeslein*

          To be fair, having had quite a bit of exposure to anorexia in my life (though thankfully not in my own family) I *would* be concerned if a co-worker was suddenly not eating and losing weight and it *would* be a major relief to find out it was “just” HG (obviously HG is horrible, but a much less scary alternative) – although I probably wouldn’t say so!

          Reply
          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Yeah, there was someone in a previous office who was puking in the women’s bathroom (across the hall from my office, easy to hear) pretty much around the same time every morning. I chalked it up to either purging the morning’s breakfast or morning sickness, but I wouldn’t actually say it out loud.

            Reply
      3. Roeslein*

        When I went back to work 4 months after having my so everyone, even people I barely knew, thought it was appropriate to “congratulate” me on having “lost the weight”. It was so weird, I’ve literally been the same weight since I was 14 except for a few months during pregnancy when I just put on the amount of weight recommended by my doctor – so nothing newsworthy in any way. I can only imagine what it’s like for people whose appearance actually changes. Seriously, just don’t comment on people’s bodies.

        Reply
    3. Brightwanderer*

      I am legit wondering if there’s actually been some kind of rumour/misinformation here? Like they’ve all heard that OP is pregnant somehow, rather than they’re making the assumption based on her body?

      But wow.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        That isn’t any better. Because there is no way a rumor like that spreads that is not problematic.

        Reply
      2. Bug Huntress*

        I dunno… I used to get this a lot from strangers on the train, offering their seat and smiling at my belly. I was maybe twenty pounds lighter than I am now, and I seemed “skinny” everywhere except for my belly. It’s just how I started carrying my weight, ever since I was thirteen.

        (I was thirteen in the nineties. The dang nineties, when everyone was obsessed with belly tees, bellybutton rings, low-rise jeans, and being rail-thin skinny. I deserve a friggin prize.)

        Once at a bar, a drunk woman accosted me on a shuffleboard court asking when I was due. When I said I wasn’t pregnant, her face widened in an exaggerated way – “You’re not PREGNANT? Naw!! Naaww!! You’re NOT PREGNAAAANT?” she shouted for the entire bar to hear, staring at my belly.

        This is kind of random, but, one thing that helped a lot was realizing that a lot of people DO NOT GIVE A FIG if their partner has a bit of squish in the middle. (Including men, counter to what The Nineties taught me.) It’s not like you’ve got scorpions under there.

        Another thing that helped was looking at vintage nude photographs of women from the early 1900s. Lovely round bellies on many of them. They were photographed because they were seen as beautiful.

        Reply
    4. Old cynic*

      I envision this as the type of office where during they interview they say something like ‘we’re a big family here!”

      Reply
    5. Dust Bunny*

      Right? This would not be a thing where I work. People do seem to announce it after the first four months or so but I think they do that because collectively we don’t hassle them about it.

      Reply
    6. Dagny*

      It’s a network effect. People wind each other up and it’s actually a very straightforward application of mob psychology.

      If Steph is the type to stare and speculate, but everyone around her ignores her gossiping, she might make a comment, but everyone – the target and the audience – will tell her to park her mouth in the off position. It’s like one person walking along the street and throwing a rock at a store: everyone else is going to help shut it down.

      Now, put Steph near Lindsey who is also baby-crazy, and it’s non-stop gossip-fest. They feed on each other. the people who would normally ignore Steph or Lindsey, on their own, get into it. (It’s the gossip equivalent of multiple people throwing bricks through windows.) The next thing you know, a woman is literally refusing to go to the office or family functions because every single person there is speculating about her uterus.

      In an office, the ONLY way this stops is if HR gets involved. In my personal life, I had to go so far as to ban family from seeing my son. “This is insanely disrespectful to me, and I am not going to allow my child to be around people who think it’s acceptable to treat me this way.” Think tactical riot gear.

      Reply
      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        This is what I was thinking–there’s probably someone stirring up rumor or speculation. Even idle mentions could embolden others to just have it in the back of their brain and move it from “possible, but I would never say anything” to “likely, and I’ve heard it under discussion so I can ask.”

        It’s still on them, they should have enough common sense and etiquette to realize you don’t do that.

        Reply
    7. Ally McBeal*

      My best friend lives in the American South and ALL of her coworkers – ALL of them – asked her (within her first month at that job) what her “church home” was. She was raised evangelical and is a staunch atheist now, so she does not have a socially acceptable answer to that horribly invasive question.

      Reply
  11. High Score!*

    “When is your baby due?”
    “How low is your IQ?” Or “Tell me about the barn you were raised in”

    “Are you pregnant?”
    “Why do you think my body is your business?” OR
    “When’s your tummy tuck?”

    “Boy or girl?”
    “Puppy” “velociraptor”

    I mean, might as well enjoy it.

    Reply
    1. GotaPenny*

      I agree. I would either play dumb.
      “When are you due?” “Due for what?” and stare at them blankly and make them feel uncomfortable.
      Or I would just say “Oh, no, I’m just fat, so thanks for that.” (which I have said to someone before)

      Reply
      1. Rae*

        I did that once. A woman asked me when I was due and in complete surprise I said “Due for what?” We both stared at each other blankly until she suddenly turned bright red and walked off. To be fair, I was at a hospital, but I was in the waiting room as a family member was having surgery so I doubt that was the reason. Needless to say, it did wonders for my self-esteem.

        Reply
      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        “When are you due?”
        Oh, yeah, I need to set up a dental appointment. Thanks for reminding me.

        “When are you due?”
        Well, I’m due to kneecap the next person who asks me that.

        Reply
        1. Where the Orchestra?*

          “When are you due?”
          “Thanks for the reminder, I need to get Art if Was back to the library.”

          Reply
    2. Algae*

      When I was pregnant with 2nd child I got asked what I was having. I’d respond like “duh!” and say “a baby!”

      A while after she was born I was asked multiple times if I was having a boy or a girl, so one time I replied, “I’m not having a baby, I’m just fat,” while liking them dead in the eye. This was before I knew about Captain Awkward so I felt bad for embarrassing her. Now I’d see it as returning awkward to sender and not give a hoot.

      Reply
      1. KaciHall*

        Duh, a baby was my go to response for that. Though sometimes is chance it up and say my husband was hoping for a velociraptor but I was pretty sure it was a baby.

        Reply
        1. Tiny Soprano*

          A friend of mine (who recently had a human baby) has replied variously with “a bat”, “maybe another cat” and “Oh a large moccha, thanks.”

          Reply
      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Hmm, so tempting to say when asked what your having, “Oh, thanks, I’ll have an iced tea, no sugar” and flash a huge smile.

        Reply
      3. Bee Stinger*

        When I was 8 months (and VERY obviously) pregnant with my son, the UPS guy came in, saw me, and said jokingly “what happened to you?!”. I just looked at him dead-Pan and maintained an awkward amount of eye contact and said “bee sting” and then walked away while his face turned red. The female trainee that was with him started laughing hysterically and told him that’s what he deserved!

        Reply
  12. Me*

    Oh my word! You work with a inordinate amount of absolute clueless people!

    My preference is to make them feel awful for asking – I say flatly “I’m not pregnant just fat.” They alwsy look suitably mortified and uncomfortable which is exactly how they should feel.

    Please go back to HR. I personally would push them on it and frame it as the joint needs overall sensitivity training on how mot to be an inadvertent jerk to other people. In my experience people who comment on bodies also don’t know how to not be offensive in other ways. But you aren’t me. And you are 100% allowed to preserve yourself and what you are comfortable with when dealing with all of this.

    Reply
    1. Anon Supervisor*

      Word, I’ve got the “Not pregnant, just fat” response locked and loaded if I ever get asked again. I had a friend who said it and it was glorious.

      Reply
      1. Where the Orchestra?*

        Sadly I got the when are you due question for years and I’m not even close to what most people would consider fat – I’m a size 8. Some people are just incredibly rude.

        Reply
          1. Former Young Lady*

            People shouldn’t have to answer a rude comment about their bodies by offering MORE commentary on their own bodies. The whole point is that no one should be commenting in the first place.

            I’ve never had the “are you pregnant?” question leveled at me, but I did have an officemate who went out of her way to comment negatively on other people’s bodies, as well as her own. When I explained that I was a survivor of an eating disorder, she DOUBLED DOWN.

            Let’s not normalize this behavior. It’s crass.

            Reply
            1. bookworm*

              This for sure depends on tone and context, but wanted to point out that the “just fat” comment isn’t a necessarily negative/self-put-down, but a neutral descriptor of how your body is. People attach such terrible judgement to fatness, but it’s just how some bodies are. Sometimes stating the fact in a neutral way is about short circuiting other people’s weird fat-phobic behavior.

              Reply
            2. Anon for Today*

              Eh, but I am fat. I’m not thrilled about it, but I find it really shocks people when you have a rejoinder like that. I just say it matter of factly with no bad inflection. It’s just a factual statement. I mean, what are they going to say, “Yeah, you totally are.” (I suppose they could say that, which would be kind of hilarious).

              Reply
            3. tamarack and fireweed*

              Well, clearly one doesn’t have to be fat to have the “are you pregnant?” question lobbed at one’s head, but if one actually *is* fat then “not pregnant, just fat” is a perfectly fine sarcastic retort. Because it it both true and exposes what was in the asker’s head in the first place. It quite forcefully says “don’t comment on people’s bodies”

              Reply
        1. Green*

          Unfortunately you are more likely to get the question when you are just a lil pudgy in the middle vs. a more well-balanced overweight, I have learned (on my way from being thin to pudgy to overweight and working my way back again).

          Reply
          1. Former Young Lady*

            Yeah, I’ve known a number of slim people who “looked pregnant” after a big meal (think of a cartoon snake that’s eaten a rodent whole).

            I’d never be brave enough in reality, but in my fantasies I imagine answering, “Oh, probably about ten hours. It’s a food baby.”

            Reply
            1. Elizabeth West*

              I would totally do this, lololollll.
              “Burrito. Estimated delivery time, 7 am tomorrow morning.”

              Reply
            2. Twenty Points for the Copier*

              I get that and the response I keep on hand should anyone be that rude is “not pregnant; just gas.”

              Reply
          2. londonedit*

            It’s only happened to me a couple of times, but I’m a UK size 12 who just happens to carry weight in a little sticky-out belly (seriously, I have a friend who is about four months pregnant and what she calls her ‘bump’ is smaller than my normal stomach). I had someone say ‘Ooh…you’re not pregnant, are you??’ and my response was ‘No, but I’m throwing this dress away when I get home’. Seemed to get the message across.

            Reply
          3. ErinWV*

            Super true, in my experience. I got asked all the time when I was round-bellied in my 20s. Now I’m 40, still fat, but I carry it everywhere (neck and jowls, more prominently every year), and nobody seems to get confused anymore. I may be aging out of the question, too, which I am fine with.

            Reply
        2. generic_username*

          I got it most when I was in my late teens/early 20s and about 70 lbs lighter than I am now. Now that I’m an obese 30-year-old, no one asks. I think it’s because it was more obvious when I bloated from food/PMS and because my legs and arms were still fairly thin while my mid-section was not, whereas now I have flabby arms and a puffier face.

          Reply
    2. VermiciousKnid*

      I, too, have used this response and the mortification on the other person’s face is just delicious.

      Reply
    3. T J Juckson*

      Bravo! I said exactly the same thing to a clueless co-worker. Just fat (with a penchant for tent-like dresses), thanks! Of course, then she asked WHEN I had my baby — uh, I just gained weight, no baby involved. Keep digging that hole…

      Reply
    4. Liz*

      While I’ve never had anyone ask me that question, i have gained enough weight in my midsection that i can look pregnant, and I fully plan to respond this way, if ever asked.! I don’t care how embarrassed they get; its a rude, nosy question and none of their beeswax.

      Reply
    5. Dagny*

      Your last paragraph is spot-on. In my far too extensive experience with people trying to run a webcam into my womb, the worst offenders are rude in a myriad of other ways. It’s not that people “need education” around not talking about other people’s bodies; they understand perfectly well. They just think there’s a convenient pregnancy disclaimer to the rule, or pretend that there’s a pregnancy disclaimer, so they can get in their nasty comments.

      Reply
    6. Heather*

      This is my preferred response, too. Of course, strangers have no compunction about telling me I’m fat, either.

      Reply
    7. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Something happens to you four times, you alert HR who says they will act, and they don’t/. And then it happens again. That’s appalling by HR. Really a big fail.

      If it happened *once* I could see them arguing no action is needed. But it’s a clear pattern and they resisted, then didn’t follow through. Total fail.

      Reply
    8. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      I don’t have people asking if I’m pregnant, as I carry my weight generally everywhere, but I do frequently have people asking if I have LOST weight. Like, I understand my grandma asking, but it’s weird from coworkers. I know for a fact I have NOT lost any weight, have been at the same weight for almost ten years, and while I’m not personally offended by being asked (I take it to mean that I look good that day or have picked a flattering shirt, or that my bad back isn’t slouching me over too much), I know intellectually that it’s a very presumptive question. I usually just answer, “Nope, still the same,” with a smile, and then occasionally get to see people backpedal.

      Reply
    9. One comment today*

      This is my go-to as well. “Not pregnant, just fat!” Or “Nope, not pregnant, just bloated”. Usually with a laugh, but sometimes with a death-stare, depending on the context of the relationship.

      Reply
  13. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’d print out copies of your letter & Alison’s response and leave them ALL OVER THE PLACE in your office.

    Breakrooms. Conference rooms. Offices of the worst offenders. Everywhere.

    Cause seriously. This is not okay and I am very sorry you’re dealing with it.

    Reply
    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I wonder how many people do this with Alison’s advice because it would be my style, lol

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I generally prefer direct communication, but sometimes you need to rely on good ole passive-aggressiveness to get the job done.

        Reply
    2. Liane*

      Don’t forget the inside of the stall doors in bathrooms. There’s a number of places that still use those like a bulletin board or intranet.

      Reply
    3. Malarkey01*

      I am almost never a fan of the anonymous letter, but in this case where SO MANY?? people are making the same stupid mistake I absolutely feel like a general education campaign is needed. Plus unless HRs message is specific lots of people won’t put it together that asking for due dates is the same as commenting on people’s size (it amazes me how many people think pregnancy is removed from a persons body).
      This article on the bathroom stall and elevator will make many people think twice (and will make the non offensive people gasp and talk about the clueless people)

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This whole post honestly has me feeling pretty lousy because the whole premise of why it hurts for someone to ask a woman if she’s pregnant when she’s not is that it implies she’s fat and that’s considered some kind of moral failing.

        Reply
        1. Serin*

          It can trigger Stereotype Threat in a lot of ways — “Hey! Here’s a reminder that people are paying attention to your attractiveness!” “Hey! Here’s a reminder that people are thinking of you in terms of your fertility!” “Hey! Here’s a reminder that people feel entitled to your personal health/family planning information!” “Hey! Here’s a reminder that the main thing is your body!”

          Reply
  14. What She Said*

    What I would like to do. I would send out a department wide or company wide email.
    Subject: Pregnancy News!
    Email: I’m not pregnant! Stop asking me!

    What I would actually do.
    Them: Are you pregnant?
    Me: No. Wait, are you pregnant?!

    As annoying and so inappropriate as this is (been there, done that) what I need for myself is to find a way to make myself laugh. Good luck, LW.

    Reply
    1. Former Young Lady*

      Oh, your response is a delight! I like the thought of using the same tack for “when are you due?”

      “Oh, I’m not pregnant. How about you? When are you due?”

      The absurdity will probably be lost on these bumblers, but who knows?

      Reply
    2. Aggretsuko*

      Oh lord, they’d probably just stop reading at “Pregnancy News!” and assume you’re pregnant anyway.

      Reply
    3. Shan*

      I like the idea of it being the new “how’s your day so far”:

      “Sue! Are you pregnant?”
      “Nope, thank goodness! And yourself?”

      Reply
  15. a nony mouse*

    The Golden Rule: until a woman actually goes out on maternity leave, don’t assume she’s pregnant. And even then, better to let her bring it up first

    Reply
    1. Me*

      Oh lord not even then. Pregnancy and childbirth is loaded territory. And sadly sometimes things don’t go in a positive direction. It’s best to err on the side of never opening your mouth unless invited to do so.

      Reply
  16. Anon Supervisor*

    I’ve been asked this in a social setting and it was upsetting and I still think about it (I have some body dysmorphia). It was my friend’s husband and she was mortified (I didn’t tell her, he fessed up because he felt bad). We’re good friends so I wasn’t angry, but it is upsetting because the person receiving the question may be struggling with body image issues and comments like these just cut like a knife. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced it in my workplace, but I fully endorse that the OP’s responses should get progressively colder. Heck, I would just give a blank stare and not answer.

    Reply
    1. Maybe not*

      Or struggling with infertility, or just lost a pregnancy, or or or. There are endless reasons this can be an incredibly hurtful question. People need to learn to NEVER ASK.

      Reply
      1. Dust Bunny*

        I wanted a family but never met the right person and definitely could not afford to have a kid on my own. I managed to keep a straight face while everyone else around me had kids but, yeah, I would hard-core not appreciate being asked this, especially by multiple people whom I had to see again on a regular basis.

        Reply
      2. Anon Supervisor*

        Absolutely. You never know what a person is going through inwardly. My mother wanted to have more than one kid, but she was never able to carry to term and experienced a miscarriage. Her MIL was always bugging her when she was going to have more kids because “Anon Supervisor” will be lonely. She bit her tongue because she wasn’t interested in baring her pain to that old battle-ax.

        Reply
  17. Former Young Lady*

    I heartily concur with the point that it’s not the OP’s job to make rude question-askers feel better. They’ve embarrassed themselves, let them sit with it. Maybe they’ll learn something.

    One response that still puts the awkwardness back on the asker might be a blank, “Due for what?” Let them stammer about their assumptions. Make them spell it out. If they’re cloddish enough to say, “Well, you LOOK pregnant,” a frosty “I beg your pardon” is more than they deserve. Those are the ones who won’t learn from the mistake.

    There’s a woman like this at my church. She’s already humiliated two of my friends this way. (She hasn’t ever asked me, but based on her other awkward questions she appears to think I’m about twenty years older than I am, so maybe that’s it.)

    Reply
    1. Arts Akimbo*

      Oh man, some people seem to be obsessed with babies/pregnancy/tHe MiRaCle oF LiFE!!!1. I encountered one woman in my workplace who asked loads of increasingly personal questions about whether I had any kids, whether I was *trying* to have kids, my relationship status, etc. I was young and mortified, and the encounter ended with her putting her hands on my stomach and telling me God told her I would conceive by December!

      What I wanted to say: “Not unless my two forms of birth control fail, I won’t!”

      This is one of the numerous reasons I no longer work in customer service.

      Reply
      1. Former Young Lady*

        putting her hands on my stomach and telling me God told her I would conceive by December!

        “Is He gonna do it Himself? I heard it was a whole thing last time.” (Before anyone asks, I’m a Christian, albeit an irreverent one. Let the punishment fit the crime, eh?)

        Reply
      2. BessMarvin*

        Someone asking whether you’re TRYING to have kids is SO WEIRD to me. They’re… literally asking about your sex life????? I’m beyond the age of being asked (I hope) but would be so tempted to give that a detailed response.

        Reply
        1. Clumsy Ninja*

          My best friend asked me that at one point. I literally told her, “I think that’s the most personal thing you’ve ever asked me!”

          Reply
          1. Persephone Mongoose*

            One of my former colleagues once asked me what kind of birth control I was using.

            I made a WTF face, and thankfully another colleague quickly stepped and and pointed out it was far too personal a question and the conversation quickly moved on to other topics.

            Reply
        2. Bee Stinger*

          Yes!! My boss asked me this once, and I just stared at him and then asked if he was asking if I have unprotected sex with my husband and walked out of his office. This was after he cornered my husband at an event and asked him if we were trying to have a baby, and if I was happy with my job…. Like what the actual F, dude?!

          Reply
  18. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Can HR include the question during required sexual harassment training? As the youngest coworker by 20 years and newly married, my colleagues asked if I was pregnant every time I didn’t eat breakfast with them, complained of a headache, anything remotely symptomatic. It was excruciating because of infertility but that wasn’t going to be something I would share. They wouldn’t have asked about my sex life because of training so why ask about the results of my sex life?

    Reply
      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Well, you’re more likely to hit a target with a shotgun I guess, so if everyone knows it’s not okay, that’s going to be most helpful instead of OP waiting and dreading for it to come up again.

        Reply
    1. pretzelgirl*

      Yes it seems that if I complain of any ailment I get an automatic “Are you pregnant?”. Heaven forbid I go to the doctor!

      Reply
    2. teatime*

      I’m so sorry, Teekanne aus Schokolade. When I was first got married, there was a group of women at work who did the same. I would mention I was drinking more water and less coffee and they’d get All Excited. Was I pregnant? I’d miss a day of work or go to the doctor- was I pregnant? Always asked with glee. For me it was tiresome because I most definitely had no desire or plans to get pregnant. I don’t miss those encounters.

      Reply
      1. CaptainLaura*

        I once had two medical appointments in the same month and one of my coworkers asked if I was pregnant! I believe my response was “nah dude, I just like eating cake.”

        He tried to backtrack and talk about my glowing complexion but it was far too late for any of that.

        Reply
      2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        It’s hard when people operate under the assumption of “oh, this is of course the explanation because it’s the one every woman would want”. It’s always cringed but at least at church my mom was able to give a sermon once where she chastised the hell out of the congregation for asking women if they were expecting because she’d worked with so many families in different situations who felt judged. Thankfully the message got across!

        Reply
    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      A medical provider arranging for my care is allowed to ask if I’m pregnant because that could change the procedures they need to use to treat me. A rando in the office hallway I barely know who is simply trying to make small talk and has not good ideas? No.

      Reply
      1. Nicotene*

        Although honestly sometimes I wish they’d stop. Last time I went in I think I was asked five different times by three different people. It definitely didn’t seem like they were concerned with me or my issues, just that my role as Sacred Vessel not be interfered with.

        The issue I was there for had nothing to do with baby stuff, by the way.

        Reply
        1. Clisby*

          Going to the dentist has nothing to do with baby stuff, but back when anyone might plausibly think I was still of childbearing age, my dentists always asked before doing Xrays.

          Reply
          1. Frieda*

            Someone at my (long ago) dentist’s office once asked me, very tentatively, if I was pregnant, and I said “Um, I’m *nine months* pregnant” but honestly that’s the way to do it. I was not one of those women who don’t look pregnant, either.

            Reply
          2. MonkeyPrincess*

            Your gums loosen during pregnancy (there’s an old saying that you lose a tooth for every baby), so the dentist asking is reasonable because it can affect their ability to care and diagnose you.

            Reply
        2. Gray Lady*

          They have their own interests to protect, too. They could get sued if they perform a procedure that harms a fetus without having first checked, and every individual who might order or perform a procedure could wind up being individually responsible. They can’t recognize the potential suers from the non-potential suers on sight.

          Reply
          1. Kal*

            The way a lot of providers do this, though, can be quite silly from what I’ve heard of experiences from other people. Where I am, its just a basic form that goes through a list of things that could complicate procedures (including past surgeries or the like) with one question asking when you last period was. For most people filling those forms, they just sign it and it ends there, but since I’m on continuous birth control and my period is often more than a month ago, the person going over the form with me will then ask if I could be pregnant, I say no, I’m on continuous birth control and they note it down. I sign the form to verify that that is the information I gave them and if its wrong, that’s on me, and we move on.

            But from other people (typically Americans) I’ve often heard of stories of being asked incessantly or being forced to pay for a pregnancy test, even when they don’t even have a uterus anymore(!), which is obviously annoying for basically everybody, but downright cruel to anyone who wants to be able to be pregnant but can’t be for whatever reason. And on top of all of that, it just seems so inefficient.

            So while its absolutely reasonable to ask about pregnancy in a medical setting where you’re receiving care that could be affected, even there there ought to be strict limits on how its asked.

            Reply
            1. Redd*

              Along with the cost of paying for an unnecessary test, it was frustrating when I was in the hospital for acute pancreatitis (the pain is indescribable, honestly) and was denied any pain medication until I could produce enough urine for a test. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything in three days in order to rest my pancreas, so I spent over an hour in agony waiting for the 8V saline to hydrate me enough that I could pee. But you know. Babies and stuff.

              Reply
            2. Ellen N.*

              I was ordered to take a pregnancy test when I was well past my fertile years because I was getting a biopsy of my cervix. I told the doctor that I’d buy a pregnancy test at a drug store and pee on the stick in front of the entire hospital if they wished, but I would not take time off work to get a pregnancy test at the lab.

              Reply
              1. Rara Avis*

                I just had that conversation today, strangely enough. Because I’m not yet 50 (by 4 months), my gynecologist said I should have a pregnancy test before a biopsy. But she took my word for it when I said it was impossible. I guess 49 2/3 was judged close enough to 50?

                Reply
            3. Rebecca Stewart*

              They tried to insist on running a pregnancy test on my girlfriend when she went in for breathing difficulties. She kept telling them, “I’m not pregnant. No, there’s no way I can be pregnant. Really. I can’t get pregnant.” Finally had to disclose being preop trans and then got treated badly. Lungs are lungs, bronchitis is bronchitis!

              Reply
              1. Squidhead*

                To be fair, some antibiotics aren’t safe during pregnancy. But the last time I needed antibiotics, they just asked me if I was pregnant and then believed me when I said no. And it’s not even anatomically impossible for me to be pregnant. I’m sorry she had that experience.

                Reply
            4. DDDDD*

              Ha! I had the exact opposite at urgent care — my last period was months ago and I knew the date very precisely and the doctor asked “oh, are you on birth control that stops your period?” and I was like “no, I’m pregnant.”

              Reply
            5. Eva*

              There’s definitely a way they ask that gets weird. I’m not sure what it is, the tone, the way they’ll actually ask twice (but are you SURE you’re not pregnant?)

              The best was when someone asked like ten seconds after asking when my last period was and I’d just told her that it was two days ago. I just blinked at her.

              Reply
        3. RagingADHD*

          It has nothing to do with you being a Vessel, and everything to do with them not wanting to get sued for malpractice, fired, or lose their license.

          A test or treatment doesn’t have to have anything to do with pregnancy to potentially impact a pregnancy.

          Reply
          1. Nicotene*

            The *same person* has to ask me three separate times? Unless they just had sex with me, my answer wouldn’t change and should be in the chart. I’m not saying I mind being asked at all – fine whatever – it’s the repetition that makes it seem like this is the only thing they’re interested in. My age could be a factor for things, or how much I drink, or what medications I’m on – but they didn’t ask me that five times. Not to derail. I realize this not relevant to OP – let’s drop it.

            Reply
            1. Dahlia*

              I was in the hospital for a week in 2020 and only got asked before I got an X-ray or CT scan (had to get a couple). It’s not standard by any means.

              Reply
        4. OhNo*

          Sometimes I wonder how much of that is rote memorization of a standard pre-procedure script. I’ve been in the same situation, with a provider asking me the same (invasive! potentially insulting!) question multiple times in the same appointment. They didn’t even realize they’d done so until I pointed it out.

          Reply
    2. Where the Orchestra?*

      I think in a medical setting there is more latitude for the question – but then it is “could you be pregnant or are you trying to get pregnant.” And only because some medical treatments can be impacted or contraindicated by pregnancy.

      Reply
    3. straws*

      and even then it’s “is there any chance you might be pregnant?”, covering scenarios where you wouldn’t be showing and thus not being a question about appearance.

      Reply
    4. WellRed*

      In a medical office there’s a health reason. In The Office it means you look pregnant, which is not a compliment.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s “not a compliment” because the implication is that the person “looks fat” and we all know that fat is the worst thing you can be in this society.

        This whole thing is problematic in a lot of ways.

        Reply
      2. Database Developer Dude*

        I get the question on forms in many medical offices. I’m male. I just skip over the question, and have been called out for it at times. I just look at the person.

        Reply
  19. Kira-Lynn Ferderber*

    15 years ago after I was asked when my baby was due and I had no idea what was going on (at first I didn’t get it! I thought they thought I was a mom of a toddler who was about to get dropped off or something??) I made little buttons that said “not pregnant, just fat” and sold them at a craft fair and women shared their stories about the shame this question carries for them for all kinds of reasons – weight stigma, but also struggles with motherhood or infertility.

    Now I teach sessions to workplaces about weight bias/fatphobia/health & size stigma.
    The same way workplaces have sessions on racism/anti-racism and other diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives, we ALSO need fatphobia addressed in our workplace discrimination. And that also helps address racism and sexism and ableism, because fatphobia is tied in with all of that.

    If your workplace has no policy and no training around size, it needs one!!!

    Reply
    1. PivotPivot*

      One time, when I WAS pregnant, I had a SIL who routinely said thoughtless things. Usually I am left blinking while the wheels turn after she said something mean or cutting, but this time, I was prepared. So when I hadn’t seen her for a couple of months, she exclaimed, “Wow! you have gained a lot of weight!”
      I responded coolly, “Thanks for noticing.”
      The one time when she went beet red, started sputtering and basically ran off.

      Reply
    2. Lisa*

      A cheerful “nope, just fat!” is my go-to response. It makes people so uncomfortable, but as Alison said, I get to prioritize my comfort over theirs when they ask a rude question.

      Reply
  20. Ghostess*

    I like a perplexed “what do you mean?” to rude questions if you can pull it off, or maybe a “sorry, when am I what?” with *concerned eyebrows* to convey “I must have misheard because you would never be so clueless to say what I thought you just said.”

    Reply
  21. katie*

    This has happened to me too many times and makes me so upset. Each instance haunts me! I’m a relatively fit person with a tummy, and I guess people just assume I’m pregnant. It’s truly the worst. And it’s from people who I respect, who I think should know not to do stuff like this! Ughhh. Sorry it’s happened to you at work, so many times.

    Reply
    1. RosyGlasses*

      Same!! I had this asked to me twice after I had just LOST weight and was thinking I was looking more svelte than normal. That popped that balloon so fast! One should never comment on another person’s body unless you are a medical professional and have a need to know.

      Reply
      1. Anon Supervisor*

        Yep, most women have a protective layer of fat over their uterus and depending on your organs and how they’re situated in your frame, women will most likely always have a little tummy (some women don’t, and that’s OK too).

        Reply
    2. Anon Supervisor*

      I hear you. I struggled with eating disorders through college and my stomach area is definitely something I obsessed over (and still have a hard time with). It really sucks when you tell yourself that no-one cares what you look like or that people really don’t pay much attention in order to try and deal with negative self-talk, only to have some jerk off say the very thing you dread.

      Reply
  22. Murphy*

    Ugh, I had this happen once and I can still remember it clearly. It’s so not ok. And people know that. I don’t know what makes them ask anyway.

    Reply
    1. cat biscuits*

      Yes. I actually had an acquaintance say, “I’m going to say this and it could be awkward, but are you pregnant?” I stared for a moment and then said, “You’re right, this is very awkward.” Ugh.

      Reply
  23. momjeans*

    I once had someone coo over my newborn baby in his car seat and then look at me and ask when the next one was due…. I was about 4 weeks post partum. No one will ever know why people think it’s ok to ask the things they do!

    Reply
    1. FunTimes*

      I would love for that person to explain by what biological mechanism they thought you could be pregnant again, let alone showing, at 4 weeks postpartum. Is Superman the father? People are just ridiculous!

      Reply
        1. Dagny*

          It is impossible to be second trimester 4 weeks after giving birth, which is how far along you would have to be to really be showing. Furthermore, even if you are ‘pregnant’ 4 weeks postpartum, it’s more like – you ovulated like two days ago and the egg is five days from implantation.

          Reply
    2. AKchic*

      After my 3rd was born, I was in a store with all three. I was tiny back then (pre-car accident, 20 years old… I miss that metabolism). On my heaviest days, I was maaaaybe 125lbs and 5’3.5” (that half inch counts!).
      So, here I am with a 3.5 year old, 18 month old and newborn, in the store, and some idiot asks me when I’m due. Baby was born 5 days early, so there were a few days I could say a day in the future while they were still holding/looking at him – much to their confusion!

      Reply
    3. Just Another Zebra*

      This happened to me! I was at the doctor with my daughter for our 6-week follow up, and one of the receptionists asked me about my “Irish twins”. I was mortified, but (loudly) said, “I can’t have sex yet – what makes you think I’m pregnant?” She was mortified, but I just stared and waited for her apology. But then I’m just like that.

      OP, I’d be as flat and cold as you’re comfortable with. “I’m not.” “What?” and “What a weird question.” are all acceptable and get the point across.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC*

        is she not aware that a pregnant woman’s stomach does not immediately go flat? I mean, she works in a pediatrician’s office!

        Reply
        1. PostalMixup*

          Or worse, for the OB-GYN! 6 weeks is a typical follow-up appointment for the person who gave birth.

          Reply
    4. Firecat*

      People who don’t know shit about pregnancy love to comment on pregnancy.

      Not surprising when we have senators claiming they remember being born. “I had this overwhelming urge to pull myself out and emerge…” no you don’t and if you did your memory would be of getting pushed out of your warm space not of an urge to pull yourself out like some monster thrusting their arms forth to claw themselves out of the womb.

      Reply
      1. Lisa*

        Wait, what? Senators? Claiming they remember being BORN? Like, Senators with an actual responsibility for lawmaking? WHAT?!

        Reply
  24. AGsgirl*

    I’m a bit of a yo-yo dieter. Though they mean so well, I actually hate it when people say, “You look great,” when I lose a few pounds. Cuz then I gain them back. I always remember fondly in my workplace of 16 people there was one person (male) who NEVER EVER mentioned my weight. He didn’t say I looked good when I was thin in the guise of complimenting me, and he didn’t look at the ground when I gained a few pounds. I always appreciated it so much. I’m sorry, OP

    Reply
    1. Dust Bunny*

      When I was in college I asked a friend if she’d lost weight and 25+ years later I am still ashamed of myself.

      Reply
    2. londonedit*

      Yeah…I tend to flip-flop within a range of about 10lbs, and no one ever comments on how I look unless I happen to be at the lower end of the range. Then all the ‘You look great!’ starts. Which makes it hard for me not to assume that if I’m any heavier than that, I don’t look great.

      Reply
  25. Observer*

    As Allison said, there is something VERY off about your workplace culture.

    Go back to HR. If she tries to get into whether you look pregnant or not, stop that dead in its tracks. Tell her that it doesn’t matter if you ACTUALLY look pregnant or not. People keep on asking you and it needs to stop. Either they are commenting on your body or they are commenting on wild gossip and you don’t care which, because neither is appropriate and the behavior really needs to stop.

    I do understand the initial “I can’t believe that so many people said that to you” because, well it IS pretty unbelievable. But making that the focus of the conversation is supremely unhelpful, to say the least. She needs to send out that email.

    You could point out to her that if this is happening to you, something similar could be happening to someone else. Because it’s not just one person who has said this, i was MANY who said this.

    Also, stop trying to smooth this over. If it happens again (and I sincerely hope it doesn’t!) don’t tell them that “it’s ok”. It is NOT ok. I think that you are right that they weren’t trying to hurt your feelings, so I wouldn’t see them as being mean. But that still doesn’t make their behavior OK. And it is probably a good thing to let people know that it is NOT OK when they do stuff like that even though they didn’t mean any harm or offense. Obviously, it’s not going to do you any good to be dramatic about it. But NOT smoothing it over, NOT reassuring people, and letting them stew in their embarrassment is not dramatic and very appropriate.

    Reply
    1. AY*

      Regarding the HR person’s response, it definitely seems from the comments up and down this thread, that it IS believable that so many people have commented on LW’s body. Unfortunately, it seems like it happens all the time. It just hasn’t happened to the HR person (I would assume).

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        Well, obviously it happened to the OP. It’s happened to me, too. But it STILL is kind of unbelievable. Not in the sense that I think someone is lying, but in the shocked sense of incredulity. Followed, in my case with a sigh and “like this is the first time you’ve heard this line?”

        Reply
    2. Pennyworth*

      HR is a huge part of the problem: why on earth respond to OP’s complaint about people commenting on her body BY COMMENTING ON HER BODY. That might be a good starting point – complain about the HR response, and keep escalating up the line until you find someone who actually understands the problem and will address it.

      Reply
  26. Tuesday*

    I appreciate Alison’s comment “your previous responses already might be prioritizing your own comfort – handling it that way might be what’s easiest for you, and that’s fine too” because it acknowledges that for some people at least, letting the other person squirm is even worse than letting them off the hook. It would be for me, but I think people often don’t get that. If the OP ISN’T prioritizing her own comfort, I absolutely agree that she should start. I’m sorry, OP, I’m very frustrated on your behalf.

    Reply
    1. Kira-Lynn Ferderber*

      So many people in these comments are acting like a woman in an office can give sassy or sarcastic replies to rude questions without it harming her career, as long as the asker was in the wrong.

      Reply
      1. une autre Cassandra*

        Yeah, lots of fantasizing in these recommendations. As satisfying as it might be to daydream about shutting down the rudeness with the Ultimate Comeback, for many of us that would be professionally unwise. :(

        Reply
      2. JimmyJab*

        I mean, I sure could in my office. Sure, there are jobs where this would be judged against the woman but my bosses would applaud me for putting a rude person in their place.

        Reply
        1. GothicBee*

          Same. I’d hate to work somewhere where I’m expected to put up with rude comments from coworkers because I’ve got to keep the peace or something. I mean, sure if there’s a client who makes a rude comment, I’d reign it in and avoid being overtly rude and sarcastic, but I’m not just going to smile and laugh it off either.

          Reply
      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I always used the blank stare, or blank stare with cocked eyebrow someplace where a snappy comeback would be appropriate.
        I had a pair of very critical grandmothers – my dad was always there to convince me it was their problem, not that anything was wrong with me. Led to me ultimately becoming one with the “return awkward to sender” replies.

        Reply
    2. TootsNYC*

      I agree!
      This is such an important point.
      Women are often urged to respond to harassment with strong responses, but that’s a huge load, and it’s not comfortable–it can be even MORE upsetting. And of course, we can’t predict the reaction of the offensive person, and that’s a huge risk to ask someone to take.

      It’s easy to get enthusiastic about retaliation, but we should all get to choose our own path.

      Reply
    3. tangerineRose*

      Probably just saying “No” or “Due for what?” should work. Some of the other answers are fun to think about though.

      Reply
  27. bubba*

    I had a coworker come up to me at a company happy hour saying “I think you’ve had enough to drink.” I had switched to seltzer and lime a couple of drinks earlier because, work, and explained as much. He said “That looks like a drink and besides, you’re pregnant.” I explained that I was not pregnant and just gained weight in my stomach, to which he replied “oh yeah, well your boobs are too big, too.”

    I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not pregnant, and that he was being rude, and then he YELLED at me for being offended since I obviously knew I looked pregnant and should expect people to say as much.

    Five years later (and one missed promotion for him because I would not work on the same team with him), he tried to apologize, saying “I only asked you when you were due, it was a simple mistake.” I told him again, that is not what happened, and he waived me away and we never spoke again.

    Reply
    1. Persephone Mongoose*

      What on EARTH. This boorish gaslighting pig needs to never work with or around women ever again.

      Reply
    2. Bex*

      High five. Sounds like you handled this as close to perfectly as it gets with something so bizarre and awkward. (Declaring that you’re pregnant AND policing what you put in your body?!?!)

      Reply
    3. Kira-Lynn Ferderber*

      Thank you for sharing that it cost you a promotion! That is so important and why he have to stop telling women to just boss up and act like a bitch back, and it will all work out fine.

      Reply
      1. Renata Ricotta*

        It sounds like HE is the one who didn’t get promoted, thankfully (which apparently prompted his terrible and belated “apology”). Not that it’s impossible for this to blow back on the woman in this situation, but it sounds like it didn’t here.

        Reply
      2. LikesToSwear*

        From the post, it sounds like *he* missed out on the promotion, which is absolutely as it should be!

        Reply
      3. Batgirl*

        I mean (aside from the fact it was his promotion which she blocked), it depends. There are definitely some hard line responses elsewhere the thread that you couldn’t say everywhere, but simply not going along with it is not harsh. Here for example, failing to agree with his false impression and objecting to your drink being taken off you while he discusses your boobs is hardly bitchy! I mean what’s the alternative? Agree that your boobs invite comments and let him dictate your drink choice?

        Reply
    4. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      You handled that better than I would have. I’d have been seriously tempted to throw my seltzer & lime in his face and say “See? Non alcoholic.”

      Reply
      1. cassielfsw*

        I immediately had the same thought. This guy 100% would have gotten a face full of seltzer from me.

        Reply
    5. Kyrielle*

      HE obviously DIDN’T switch to non-alcoholic drinks soon enough.

      Glad to hear the consequences for bad behavior landed on him as they should.

      Reply
    6. greenwalker*

      He was policing you from the very first comment. I can’t personally imagine feeling like I had to explain/justify to some male coworker what my drinking choices were about, much less explain my body size or reproductive status. You don’t owe explanations to anyone about your choices, at work , unless its about work. People approaching you like this are just going to keep going, because they feel entitled to all of you

      Reply
      1. Ally McBeal*

        And legally, bartenders/servers are NOT allowed to refuse someone an alcoholic beverage even if they are very obviously pregnant. It was a fireable offense at one of the restaurants I worked at in college. It’s absolutely not anyone’s choice to make except the pregnant person.

        Reply
  28. Goose*

    A stamp, stickers, business cards, and a tastefully embroidered sign for your office that say “I’m not f***ing pregnant”. Stamp their hands. Sticker their shirt. Toss the cards behind you like a trail of crumbs. People suck, and I’m sorry.

    Reply
  29. Ashley*

    I don’t think there is anything HR can do. Unfortunately people feel comfortable casually asking this question and other questions that I think are intrusive.

    During my first week at a job I was introduced to a colleague and after 1 minute of small talk she asked if I was married (yes), did I have kids (no) and when was I planning to have kids. The first two questions I was ok with but asking women without kids when they are going to have kids or why they don’t have kids is ridiculous.

    Reply
    1. Observer*

      I don’t think there is anything HR can do.

      Actually, I do think that HR can do something about this. This kind of thing is rude and it touches on a number of areas that HR should be concerned about. Both a general email and some sensitivity training here could be useful.

      Some general rules that people need to realize:

      In general, don’t ask women if they are pregnant or any question that assumes pregnancy. Full stop.

      In general, don’t ask any question about people’s reproductive plans or situation. Full stop.

      In general, don’t ask any questions that are based on how their bodies look, especially when those looks could be seen as negative (ie “looks pregnant but not actually pregnant” is also seen as “fat”.) Not based on tummies, breasts, weight change, etc.

      Reply
      1. Ingles*

        I totally agree that this is something HR can and should take care of. Sensitivity training is definitely called for at this company!

        Reply
      2. starsaphire*

        Exactly; this is absolutely an HR issue.

        Because people are making comments about her body and about her sexual activity. Literally.

        If that’s not an HR issue, I don’t know what is.

        Reply
  30. Whereismyrobot*

    I think this might be a good use of the phrase “Why would you ask me that?”
    or “That isn’t your business.”

    Reply
    1. Robin Ellacott*

      I agree. I’d suggest “why would you ask me that” and if they are rhinoceros-skinned enough to answer with “you look pregnant”, or – heaven forbid – a boobs comment, just “Wow.”

      Reply
    2. miss chevious*

      My go to response for questions and unsolicited statements about my appearance (including statements about my mask-wearing) is “oh! Is that your business?” while sounding surprised, but cheery. At that point, people usually figure out that, hey, no! It’s not their business and wander away.

      Reply
  31. Jean*

    This has happened to me quite a few times, and my response has always been “I’m not pregnant, just fat” followed by intense eye contact and a poker face. People who ask this question have no home training, in the words of my grandmother. (I even responded that way a few times when I WAS pregnant, just to embarrass people. Sometimes it’s the only way to teach people how tacky they’re being by asking this.)

    Reply
  32. A tester, not a developer*

    I often look pregnant (thanks chronic illness!) and very few people have ever asked. But I got a tip from another lady that drives home what a terrible question it is to ask without having to get into specifics…

    “Are you pregnant?”
    (place hand on belly, sigh sadly) “No…” (gaze off into the distance, maybe sniffle a little)
    or
    “Not anymore…” (which is true – I was pregnant, then I had my kid so I’m not pregnant anymore)

    Reply
    1. OfficePro*

      I’ve legit just told the rude person asking ” I can’t have kids, but thanks for bringing up an intensely painful and private subject up in the workplace.” The look on their face… I doubt they’d ever ask a woman about pregnancy ever again.
      “My uterus is non of your concern”
      “Congratulations, you win today’s contest social cluelessness”

      It is my body and I’m f-ing tired of other people’s opinion on it.

      Reply
  33. Bex*

    This is the worst! So much sympathy for you, LW, and I second Alison’s advice to respond however makes you feel the least bad. I also have a body shape that makes people think I’m pregnant, but luckily I’ve never been asked at work. I still hate having to evaluate what I wear based on how pregnant it makes me look, especially for job interviews (glad so many of these are on Zoom now!).

    But why, WHY do people ask this?! Because note, this question can also be super uncomfortable for people who ARE pregnant but don’t want to talk to you about their private medical business! And potentially super painful for someone who, say, just had a late miscarriage but still looks pregnant. What benefit are you, nosy pregnancy interrogator, expecting to get out of this conversation that is worth risking hurting someone in all these possible ways?!

    Reply
    1. Home Away from Work*

      Q-When are you due? A… For the XYZ project? At 2:00
      Q-when’s the baby due? A… You’re having a baby? Congratulations!!!
      Q- Are you pregnant? A… You’re pregnant?! Congratulations!

      Reply
    2. Just an autistic redhead*

      Yeah, if someone asked me that I’d go either for this or for the “I-misheard-you” variant, “When am I doing what?”

      Reply
  34. Macaroni Penguine*

    Good Grief OP, your workplace needs a culture awareness shift. In this context, it’s impolite to ask if a woman is pregnant. And these people have even been reminded by HR that they shouldn’t comment about their co-workers bodies. If you’re dealing with repeat question offenders, you can say something like, “No I’m not pregnant. Please stop asking me that.”

    Not all work places are so clueless about pregnancy and co-worker bodies. I’m five months pregnant, and not a single uninformed co-worker commented on that. Their noticeable efforts of polite social awareness is endearing.

    Reply
  35. DNDL*

    I’m a librarian, and a lot of my patrons have formed this parasocial relationship with me. I am friendly and chat with them as I answer questions and make recommendations, and occasionally I’ll throw in an anecdote if I think it is warranted. Think something like “Oh you if you liked Stephen King, you might enjoy Fear Street. My husband and I have really been enjoying it!” This will inevitably lead to, “Oh, you’re married?” And I will politely answer appropriate questions. Over the years, some of my regulars have come to really take ownership of me, thinking of me as a close friend despite the fact that I’ve never seen them outside of work. I am also a heavier-set woman, and I tend to carry weight on my belly. This means I often, and I mean *often*, get asked by people who I have no real relationship with asking me when I’m due. I’ve had women run up and hug me, yelling their congratulations. And when I inevitably say, “I’m not pregnant,” I get comments like “Oh, I thought you were married.” or “Oh, but you’ve been married for a few years now.” or “But you’re so good with kids!”

    It is the single worst thing about my job, especially now that I *am* trying o get pregnant and it isn’t happening yet. I wish people would just stop, and I have decided that even when I do get pregnant, I will *always* insist that I am not pregnant, merely fat, because it is nobody else’s business but mine and my husband’s.

    Reply
    1. Paris Geller*

      Yeah, as a fellow librarian, I totally get that. It’s not as bad now, but when I was a newly minted librarian in my mid-2os just a few years ago, there seemed to be a lot of those questions directed at me because I was in children’s services. Now I work in adult services and don’t get them nearly as much, but they still occur. The worst was when a woman asked me if I was married, I said no, and then she asked “why not?”

      Um!?!?! Because at the time I hadn’t met anyone I wanted to marry?

      Reply
      1. DNDL*

        It did get better when I moved from youth services to adult services, but it still happens. I’ve even gotten unwanted belly touching! Like congrats lady, can you feel my food baby kick? Ugh.

        Reply
  36. Blackcat*

    YUP.
    I did wilderness first responder training. We were taught to ask for certain types of ailments “Do you have a uterus?” followed by “Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”
    And… only in the context of providing emergency medical care! Pregnancy is relevant to more medical things than you’d think (ex: a broken ankle can cause blood clots in pregnant people more easily than in non-pregnant people, so a broken ankle in a 20 year old cis man is much less of an emergency than a broken ankle in a 38 year old pregnant person), but unless you’re providing medical care to someone, it is zero percent your business.

    Reply
    1. Asenath*

      I would think it very peculiar if a first responder asked me if I had a uterus or not, and not only because I’m pretty obviously well past the age at which a uterus, assuming I had one, could be occupied. I’d also wonder, at least for a minute or two, which other possibly present, possibly absent organs are going to be of interest, or remotely relevant to that bone sticking out of my leg. If the first responder needs to know whether the patient is pregnant, that’s what should be asked. Ask necessary questions as briefly as possible.

      Reply
      1. Cef*

        Well, I think the question is premised on the fact that not everyone who has a uterus is a cis woman or presents in stereotypically feminine ways. An at-a-glance assumption about who does or doesn’t have the capability of becoming pregnant could have serious ramifications in the emergency medicine context Blackcat describes.

        Reply
        1. TreeHillGrass*

          Well, 999 out of 1,000 are CIS so it seems like a strange thing to get hung up on while providing emergent care

          Reply
          1. Lenora Rose*

            If it directly effects the care you give, and you deal with multiple people every day, then you don’t want to miss a likely person. You can obviously avoid asking anyone who’s underage, over age, or liable to punch you.

            Reply
      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        Well, you could miss a kidney, part of a lung, lower intestines… Or, like one of my friends, a big chunk of your brain.

        Reply
      3. Momma Bear*

        My mother had a hysterectomy at a fairly young age, so I can see how that’s a legit question to ask. In the context of maybe you are pregnant, it might affect the medication they can give you in an emergency.

        Reply
      4. Eva*

        I had a pulmonologist ask me once what birth control I used. I thought it was super weird and invasive but I was so surprised by the question that I just answered.

        Turned out he was thinking about prescribing a drug that lowers the efficacy of most birth control and he needed to know which precautions to tell me to take. He could have handled it way better, but it was a valid question even if it didn’t seem so at first.

        Reply
      5. Lenora Rose*

        I might think it peculiar if they asked an obviously post-menopausal woman this question, but the plain fact is that in the age range where a person with a uterus can get pregnant, not all uterus bearers *look* like women, and not all women have a uterus, whether due to transness or medical condition.

        So, modulo obvious age categories or other evidence, not a crazy question.

        Reply
    2. European doc*

      This is ridiculous. I am an MD and if my patient is a man I am not going to waste precious seconds of rescue treatment time on asking him if he could be pregnant. I ask women of childbearing age if they are pregnant if it’s relevant. A sex-change surgery would come up in the medical history regardless.

      Reply
      1. Lenora Rose*

        If you are an MD, you are meeting a patient whose complete medical history you have access to, and generally in the occasions the patient is not conscious or otherwise able to inform you of things themselves, where someone else has triaged the situation and can give you a precis.

        Someone doing emergency care at a car accident or a wilderness site, not so much.

        Reply
  37. HannahS*

    Oh no! How inappropriate. Here are some things you could say in the moment, in addition to returning to HR.
    Without smiling, “I’m not pregnant.” Then just…be silent. Return the rudeness to sender. Let them sweat.
    “I’m not pregnant, and I’m getting really annoyed that people keep asking me that.”
    “I’m not pregnant, and I’m not comfortable with that question.”

    Reply
  38. Quickbeam*

    Apples everywhere unite! When I was in nursing school we had to wear the most godawful student uniforms that only came to a size 12 US. I’m a 14 so it was not flattering. I had a nursing professor and mother of 13 ask me daily if I was pregnant. I finally told her if she wanted to be helpful she’d get the school to expand the uniform sizes.

    Reply
    1. Anon this Thyme*

      A youtuber I like (Justine) did a series on different ways to dress for body types, using three celebrities (who each have different personal style) for each body type.

      While some body type names sound more flattering (e.g. hourglass), pear and -especially- apple can be less-than-thrilling names for one’s weight distribution. Ever since I watched her videos, instead of “apple shaped”, I think of myself as the Katy Perry / Kate Winslet / Catherine Zeta-Jones type. It has a lot more panache!

      Reply
    2. cncx*

      this is me, a size 14 apple. ALL my weight is in my stomach. *solidarity fist bump*
      the cool part about being in my 40s is the questions have died down

      Reply
  39. Shelly*

    When I was a bank teller, every female bank teller under 50 was asked that at least once by a customer. Didn’t matter what size she was, if she was wearing something loose fitting, BAM “Are you pregnant?” Infuriating.

    Reply
    1. Banker chick*

      I am a bank teller over 50—-56 to be exact and a couple months ago an elderly client asked when I was due! He didn’t mean any harm and I guess compared to him I WAS young. I let it go. Not the first time but hopefully it will be the last. But you are right that it is a favorite topic of conversation with customers.

      Reply
  40. SP*

    I have no children and have been asked this question multiple times over the years. I’m guessing it’s because I am married, of childbearing age, and although I am not overweight, I tend to gain weight in the stomach area first (although one person insisted it was because my face was glowing). I usually just stare at them and flatly state something like “No, I’m just fat.” Invariably, they are horrified and rush to assure me that I am not in fact fat. I have no advice other than what Alison has already given, but I just want to empathize that this is a horrible, universal phenomenon.

    Reply
    1. Van Wilder*

      Lol at someone insisting that it’s because of your glow. I appreciate their commitment to the lie.

      Reply
      1. SP*

        Hahaha, they actually insisted I should take a pregnancy test. I didn’t, but it’s been about four years, so I think I’m good!

        Reply
      2. Ann*

        That happened in a Midsomer Murders episode, I think. A teacher thought one of her teenage students was pregnant and she wanted to adopt the baby. “But you were… you were glowing.” I thought that couldn’t be realistic but here we are…

        Reply
    2. Some Lady*

      I have also done, the “Nope, just fat I guess!” comment and while I still feel awkward they usually feel even worse.

      Reply
  41. Pleeease*

    People are so clueless. Even when you actually are pregnant and answer that question with a genuine answer, they follow it up with “are you going for a natural birth” or “was it planned?” or other STUPID and OFFENSIVE remarks. And I work in a generally great place, but I think there are some subjects where people are just weird.

    Reply
    1. Twisted Lion*

      Right! Once I responded that I cant have kids so thanks for the horrible reminder and they responded with “well you can always adopt why wont you do that or are you selfish?”

      People are insane jerks.

      Reply
      1. Miss Muffet*

        I had the opposite issue with adoption – which just drives home what Alison said about all things baby being somehow public property (and you can’t win, no matter what) …. I was a young newlywed when I started a new job and when people asked when I was having kids, I’d say, “oh not for a while but we’re planning to adopt.” I can’t tell you how many times I was told, “you’ll change your mind”.

        Reply
    2. Caboose*

      I had a coworker once ask ME if I was planned, because my brother and I are so far apart in age!
      I’m pretty sure I was, and that it was just weird timing for my parents during “normal” sibling age ranges, but like…I guess I get to be anxious about that, now? (And sure, I could just ask, but I don’t think I want to know. If I *was* planned, great, I’d be thrilled, but I don’t think I’d survive finding out that I wasn’t.)

      Reply
      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I got that so much after I had my second – and it passed me off to no end. I had several years of miscarriages between my two kids…….my relationship with my mom is still recovering almost 6 years later.

        Reply
      2. Pleeease*

        Indeed. My children are far apart in age and I have been very clear with the younger one that things were planned that way. Everyone assumes the gap must be an accident. I also know several people who openly say that their youngest child was an accident and I wonder how on earth it makes the child feel to hear that.

        Reply
    3. Batgirl*

      Reading this thread is great education that it’s not safe even for pregnant people to answer this question, because it heralds a really tactless person you can’t trust with personal information.

      Reply
    4. Whodat?*

      Them: “Was it planned?”
      Me: “Well, we’ve been going at it like bunnies but most of our antics wouldn’t result in a pregnancy. I mean, this one time we …..” Stare

      Reply
  42. Beancat*

    Ugh, this is so frustrating! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this so frequently, OP. It’s not okay once, but so many repeat offenses??

    I’ve had people ask me at a retail job (“should you be lifting that?” -“Um, it’s my job. Why do you ask?” – “Well, aren’t you pregnant?” – “……no.”) and she didn’t even apologize when called out. I wish people would take a moment and think before asking! It’s an incredibly rude assumption and can be so hurtful on many levels.

    Reply
    1. Justme, The OG*

      I had a customer aske me if I should be lifting that, and told me that it was “becasue I was going to have babies one day.” UGH. I was just fine lifting it, and what is the obsession with women bearing children?

      Reply
      1. Beancat*

        WOW. How rude of them! I wish people weren’t so obsessed with childbirth. I get it all the time with even doctors; I’ve told my doctor multiple times I don’t want children and he still started my most recent appointment with a bright “so! You ready to have kids yet?”

        SIGH.

        Reply
      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I guess she never heard of farm women like two of my great-grandmothers, who had 10 and 12 children and worked their asses off.

        Reply
  43. Justme, The OG*

    I have a coworker who is pregnant. She told me, I congratulated her. That’s the end of it until her baby shower.

    I had a former coworker who I hadn’t seen for a while and in a meeting thought “Her shirt is extremely unflattering” (which is a bit of a jerky thought, I know) and it turns out she was pregnant.

    It is so incredibly easy to just not say anything.

    Reply
      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup it’s the brain to mouth filter. Not every thought that occurs to you needs to be voiced out loud. Most people have a reasonably well developed filter by high school- unfortunately some people just never learn that just because you thought it doesn’t mean it has to be said aloud.

        Reply
  44. Also not pregnant*

    I don’t have any advice, but I get asked this at least once a year (and my kiddo is 10, roll eyes…), so I understand your feelings.

    I’ve never been very good at returning the rude to sender, but I usually go post on FB and get a lot of external validation. Lol.

    Reply
  45. Cherry Danish*

    Ooh boy. OP, I sympathize. I carry all my weight in my stomach too (it got worse once I actually had a baby!), and I get that question a lot. Now my only goal is to make the other person as uncomfortable as I am (or used to, I don’t care anymore)

    “Are you pregnant?”
    “Nope. Why, who told you I was?”

    This turns it back on them. At this point it’s fun to watch them back-pedal and try to come up with any explanation that sounds better than “I thought you looked fat.”

    Reply
    1. Batgirl*

      Yeah, I feel like I would need them to explain if it was a rumour, because if it is then I go to the source, and if it’s not…”Why’d you think I was then?”
      “…..but lots of people carry weight in their stomach”
      “Are you looking really closely at my body or something?”
      “Nope, sorry I still don’t see how you’d get pregnant from that”
      Or whatever you’d feel comfortable saying!

      Reply
  46. beer hug*

    I was once sure my colleague was pregnant (like, sowomeone had told me and I had heard about her maternity leave). She also looked pregnant. I still hedged and asked “how are you feeling?”, and she said “fine, why?”. I panicked that maybe I got it wrong, and said something about a cold she had a while back. Phew. But turns out she was pregnant (like, she came back with a baby). Not sure exactly what happened, but it rattled me enough that I decided, just, to never go there again (when I was asked about my own pregnancy I was actually quite happy that people were concerned about me, but I realized not everyone feels that way, and of course it’s terrible if you’re wrong).

    Reply
    1. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m so curious—why DID you ask, if you weren’t 1000% sure/hadn’t been told by her directly?

      You asked in an oblique way, which is far better than some, but why go for something understood (by you, at minimum) as referencing pregnancy instead of a typical “how are you doing today?” I don’t get where it comes from and would appreciate hearing your thought process at the time.

      Reply
  47. Renee Remains the Same*

    You are not alone, my friend. I had a bright, yellow floral dress that I thought was cute. I wore it to work without a thought, just revelling in its cuteness. I was walking back from the water station one morning, when a coworker said, “congratulations.”

    “On my water? I hope it’s that good!” I replied.
    “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
    “I am not,” I replied.

    And then went back to the bathroom to scrutinize my formerly cute dress, which I never wore again. I’m a big girl. It’s pretty apparent. I have a double chin. I have a gut. I have chonk. It’s ok. Do I resemble a pregnant person? Maybe. My gut doesn’t have a name, but I suppose I could give it one. Mabel, maybe? Chester? (Old-fashioned names appeal to me) But more likely, I’m just big and if someone took the time to actually look at me and not my gut, they could deduce that pretty quickly.

    At the time, I was mortified. Now, it just shows the asker is ignorant. Being fat is not something to apologize for. And anyway body parts from head to toe should never be a topic of conversation at work (unless you’re my boss who let me walk around with my bra showing when my cardigan lost a button because HE was so embarrassed by it… It’s been 5 years, I can laugh at that now).

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not let someone’s uninformed and quite frankly stupid opinion make you feel less than. You’re a great employee, a kind coworker, and I’m just going to assume a nice person. You have gorgeous hair/eye/teeth/nails (I don’t know you, but there is at least one gorgeous thing about you). Being human, means being imperfect. You get decide what your imperfection is, not others.

    Reply
    1. emmelemm*

      I don’t get asked if I’m pregnant often, but a couple of times long ago I did, and I clearly remember thinking, “Well, I *did* like this shirt…”

      Don’t ruin my illusion that my clothes are flattering!

      Reply
    2. Gigi*

      Yes, girl! I came here to say something similar.

      OP, you are allowed to take up space. You are allowed to walk through the world in the body you have now, today, and feel good about it. People are dipsticks. I’m not going to try and tap you with my magical self-love wand and expect you to feel better about all this. But as you process the events and all these comments out, I hope you won’t let the bastards get you down. Great big empathetic hugs to you. And a virtual cocktail.

      Reply
    3. Emily Spinach*

      That’s such a bummer. I similarly had a favorite dress ruined for me when someone asked if I was pregnant while I was wearing it. It was very sad.

      Reply
  48. 2horseygirls*

    I have had this happen as well. It was about 7 months after I had my daughter. It was horrible. Hugs to you, Enid.

    Frankly I would email a link to this column to HR, and give them 48 hours to address it before emailing the link to the entire office.

    Absolutely loving the SVH references!

    Reply
  49. Twisted Lion*

    I carry my fat in my belly for some reason and used to get asked a lot. It hurts and its rude and made me cry too, especially the time a guy actually touched my stomach and asked when I was due. He got smacked with my purse. Not that you should smack coworkers with your purse but I understand the urge :)

    I will say that I noticed the comments happened more often with certain blouses that I wore, specifically empire cuts. Not that you should have to police your wardrobe for morons. I agree with Allison that you can look horrified/annoyed/pissed. I now pepper my responses with F-bombs.

    Reply
    1. LikesToSwear*

      And that right there is why I have never liked empire waistlines. I’m already fat, I don’t need to look pregnant also!

      Unfortunately, the hernia I now have just makes me look pregnant no matter what. Thankfully, all of my coworkers know it’s not a possibility for me (I kicked cancer’s ass), but I don’t think any of them would ask anyway.

      Reply
    2. Gigi*

      You should also not touch a coworkers stomach without consent! Ew! He’s lucky you just smacked him with your purse and didn’t lay his ass out. I’m so mad for you.

      Reply
  50. Loli*

    I was in a bar drinking a beer, when I stepped out to the smokers patio to take a phone call. Beer still in hand and standing in a swirl of cigarette smoke, 2 woman asked me when I was due. I have always carried my fat in my belly and have been asked this before. But I was over 50 years old and DRINKING A BEER. I told them I was just fat. My tone was disgust (like Inside Out). I felt sort of bad for them after that because I shared the story to a bunch of people at the bar and they made the women feel so uncomfortable they left. Bar friends are awesome!
    It is perfectly ok to use a shocked and disgusted tone when you tell them you aren’t pregnant. They need to learn not to do that and you need to feel more empowered. We are not just our bodies. We are so much more.

    Reply
    1. KTB1*

      Something extremely similar happened to me years ago–I am a tall woman with an athletic build and was wearing what I thought was a loose but cute tank top to an outdoor music festival. I had a beer in my hand and was sipping from it when a friend of my husband’s came up, put her hands on my stomach and asked me if I was pregnant.

      In retrospect, it wasn’t an honest question and it was pretty much the last straw in a long series of bad behavior. Neither of us have spoken to her since, and that was about a decade ago.

      Reply
  51. Teensyslews*

    Last time someone assumed I was pregnant (a pharmacist!) I just looked at him and said very flatly, “I am not pregnant, just fat.” That certainly shut him up but your mileage may vary.

    Reply
  52. TootsNYC*

    If one of my people came to me about this and said that HR hadn’t ever issued that statement, I would be on the phone to HR on their (the office’s) behalf. And if I didn’t see that, I’d be sending out my own alert to as big an email list as I thought I could get away with.

    OP, could you turn to your manager for help?

    Reply
  53. Goldenrod*

    I absolutely totally and ENTIRELY agree with Alison that you should stop prioritizing these idiots’ comfort over your own. Let them 100% feel the awkwardness of their stupid question. Let it hang in the air like a fart.

    I hate, hate, hate the way people feel so weirdly entitled to comment on other people’s bodies. I am unusually tall and I can’t tell you how many people feel the need to comment on it. Sometimes very negatively! And even kind of accustory…as if I had any choice in the matter. (Like: “Why are you so tall?”) What’s wrong with people??!

    Don’t get sad, get mad. And screw those people!! They are the sub-humans, not you. You are a normal person with a normal body – and also, a normal brain which is more than those dumb co-workers can say!

    Reply
  54. Mama with manners*

    I’m so sorry LW! I asked a women at the grocery store if she was pregnant. At the time my mom was pregnant with my younger brother and I was 2 years old. The woman was very kind about it and my mom then told me that it wasn’t a question that should ever be asked. It’s crazy to me that more than 1 person at your work has asked you this question. Is it possible someone has told people you’re pregnant? If it happens again (hopefully not) maybe ask if someone told them you were? It may shed light on why so many people think you’re pregnant.

    Reply
  55. Abigail*

    This is SO ODD. Like, I get that there are rude people out there, but for it to have happened so many times in a row – I just wonder if there was some kind of weird office mix-up that happened, like someone sent out an email that said “Jane is pregnant! Congratulation her!” and didn’t specify that it was Jane X and not Jane Y.

    Regardless, there’s no excuse for it. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. :(

    Reply
  56. eons*

    I think someone in that office is telling people that LW is pregnant. Any nosy gossipers in the office? Mom-aged women obsessed with the wombs of the younger co-workers? That person who is constantly crossing normal work boundaries? There have been so many stories on this website I can’t even imagine who it could be. But I am having trouble believing that several adults, *in such a short period of time* would have the nerve to ask a woman that!! One maybe, but 3 women in 3 weeks – regardless of body shape/size etc!! Unless… they were told otherwise. Someone has to be behind it.

    Reply
    1. Environmental Compliance*

      It does make you wonder.

      Recently I was told that there was a rumor running around that I was pregnant.

      I told them that that would take a miracle, considering I can’t have any, and man, what a boring rumor to bother spreading around. The look of pure panic & horror on the person’s face when I said I couldn’t have children was priceless.

      (I do have reproductive issues that would make it pretty difficult, but also do not want children, so I’m comfortable being a bit blunt with the topic if it means someone gets to learn how damaging that question/assumption can be.)

      Reply
    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      My thoughts went here, too. Or, of it’s a larger company, someone heard “Kris” is pregnant, and via the game of “telephone” 3 people later it’s “Kate” is pregnant.

      Reply
  57. Dark Macadamia*

    I hate this. The first time it happened to me I was so confused and embarrassed I cried right in front of the person who asked.

    Please do whatever makes the situation least upsetting for YOU, and don’t be afraid to let them feel really guilty and embarrassed about it. Personally I like “No I’m not pregnant, are you?” regardless of the person’s gender/age/body or “Nope, just fat!” as cheerfully as possible.

    Reply
  58. Phony Genius*

    We had an employee here who was rather superstitious, in that she didn’t want to talk about a baby that hadn’t been born yet. Her consistent response to people who asked her or her husband (who also worked here) was “Oh, we’re not talking about that yet.” (Which sort of answered the question without answering it.) There was one employee who wouldn’t leave her alone about it. She finally snapped and threatened to give birth AT him! He shut up after that.

    Reply
    1. Anon Supervisor*

      I have this mental image of her lifting a leg and shooting out a baby with that “pew pew pew” sound…haha!

      Reply
  59. chai latte*

    I also get asked this and it’s infuriating. Especially because people often do it when I’m standing next to my cis male partner – they’ll jump right into the “congratulations you two!” and I just stare at them confused until they awkwardly explain. I just don’t get it. I don’t get it! Literally just don’t comment on others peoples bodies. Not strangers, not coworkers, not family.

    I usually tell people “not pregnant, just fat” which is horribly awkward for them but that’s what they get for pointing out the size and shape of my stomach.

    Reply
  60. Snackers*

    I hear this from time to time too (sometimes more regularly than others), and I generally just respond with “nope, just overweight.” I don’t use the death stares or flat voices that others do, but I’m generally a cheery person. Personally these comments don’t bother me – after all, I do look pregnant. Based on the reactions I’ve had, it is as effective in a friendly tone as it is in a stern one.

    Reply
    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it’s better if you use a cheerful tone, because it makes you look like a pleasant, confident person (even if you’re really upset) while making them feel extra awkward. Prevents the defensive “it was just a question, you don’t have to be so pissy about it” type response, too!

      Reply
    2. Observer*

      Personally these comments don’t bother me – after all, I do look pregnant.

      I’m glad that these comments don’t bother you. But I don’t understand the logic.

      Do you think it’s ok to ask someone about their weight because “after all, the are fat”? Or ask them about their scar because “after all they have a scar”?

      My point is NOT that you should be bothered. But that’s your personal reaction and not something that’s reasonable to expect as a norm. Because commenting on how people look is generally rude. And asking people about their pregnancies if they haven’t shared about it is also generally rude.

      Reply
  61. Stevesie*

    I also have a pouchy belly and have been mistaken for pregnant multiple times. It’s no fun! Once when I was taking multiple samples at Costco (one was for my husband) and he mentioned I was “eating for two”. I was young and I just let him think I was pregnant to avoid the awkwardness. But I’d like to think I could be a little less gracious now and let someone live with the realization that they were a jerk.

    Reply
  62. Catabodua*

    I have such sympathy for the OP. I carry all my weight in my stomach and I’m asked that often.

    I decided to stop being pleasant / cheerful and instead I reply “I’m just fat, not pregnant” with a flat tone. About 99% of folks turn bright red and stumble to apologize. And, I have trained myself not to say “that’s fine” or “it’s okay.” I let them stew in their embarrassment for a moment before I ask “I assume you wanted something else?”

    Hopefully they learn to stop doing it, but I doubt it.

    Reply
  63. Texan in exile*

    My mom asked my cousin when she was due.

    Cousin snapped, “I’m not pregnant; I’m fat.”

    I love my mom but she deserved an unsugarcoated, direct response. I hope she learned her lesson.

    Reply
  64. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

    This happened to me at a holiday party a few years ago.
    Busybody – “Oh, you’re pregnant!”
    Me – “No, just fat.”
    It didn’t feel…great, but it also felt like, you know what? You’re going to make a judgement about my body that you feel entitled to make? Nope. Not today.

    Reply