Please Stop Telling Me I “Don’t Look Like I Had a Baby”
Sarah Wheeler

I would imagine that, based on the content of this post, honesty is the best policy here: I cannot believe this was your response to a compliment. It is not lost on me that the purpose of the article is that you do not *agree* that it was a compliment, but it was intended as such. I say that as a father, who has heard more than once (I have three kids) that I “don’t look too exhausted” or “wow, you look rested!” I suppose I could have taken those comments as some sort of commentary on the fact that I must’ve been being judged, and that the bags under my eyes were clearly noticeable, so the comment itself is bullshit. You know what? It was bullshit. It was nice bullshit. It was a person trying to say something nice, if trite, because it sounds better than, “You look like you just had a kid, and probably don’t have time to take care of yourself, but I’ve definitely seen worse so you don’t look so bad!” Once again, it isn’t lost on me that the point you’re trying to make is that casual compliments should focus less on your looks and more on the deep content of your soul, but I hope you understand that isn’t always a gender issue. Sometimes it is just a “I don’t really care to make a poignant, personal comment when a simple ‘You look nice today’ will do” issue. I compliment women’s looks as well as men’s, and every once in awhile, I’ll go a little deeper in the break room by discussing the person’s strengths in detail.

I find your premise both shallow and insulting. Drawing conclusions about what people think of you as a person from inane comments that everyone makes, and extrapolating that into a discussion of body-shaming issues in society simply serves to minimize the *real* body-shaming issues that exist. Perhaps you’d have convinced me if the comment was, “I see you haven’t lost that baby weight yet.” or “So, you’ve just given up now that you have a kid?”. However, my take on what you have posited here is that the only one with unresolved issues is you, and that’s too bad, because I bet you that most of those inane comments were pretty sincere. Perhaps your co-workers, friends, and strangers really DO think you look great, and the applesauce stains are just expected and easily overlooked. Many men are well aware of the fact that pregnancy runs the female body through paces we would hope never to endure, so sometimes we’re just generally impressed you’re even walking around at all. At least I am. And if I saw you, I’d probably make a light, jovial comment about how you don’t look like you had a baby; not because I want to re-enforce gender inequality issues, but because I know how *I* would look after having a baby, and it ain’t pretty. Sometimes a compliment is just a compliment.

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