I first saw you inside the gas station. Your daughter was trying to get your attention by asking you to guess what flavor soda she picked out. You ignored her.
Outside, when you told me my daughter was cute, at first I thought it was nice. But when you followed it up with a note about how hard it will be once she gets to be your daughter’s age, and “Good luck! HAHA,” I was ready for our conversation to be over, so I continued to walk with my husband and daughter away from your vehicle.
That should have been your cue to stop talking to me.
But then you asked me if I’m pregnant with my second child. It got my attention so I turned around to look at you. You then said, “or are you still trying to work off the weight from your first kid?”
I reacted violently, but you only heard a sliver of what went on in my head. I swore at you in front of your family and mine. I wish I didn’t do that. I wish that on top of the hurt, I didn’t feel regret, too.
When you commented on the way my body looked, you violated me. You not only studied my body close enough to make an assessment — the thought of which makes my skin crawl — but you felt like it was your business to say something about it.
I wish you wouldn’t teach your pre-teen daughter that this type of behavior is okay. I hope you realize you’re showing her by example that it’s normal for a man to comment on a woman’s body. And when men inevitably comment on your daughter’s body, I hope you understand there’s the distinct possibility that she may not react, she may not defend herself, because her father taught her this type of behavior is acceptable.
When you commented on the way my body looked, you violated me in front of my daughter. I really wish you wouldn’t have done that. You should know that hours later, when I was rocking her before bed, I explained to her that I got really upset at a stranger today and I was sorry. I told her a man commented on my body, and this type of behavior is unacceptable. A man can never tell you what you’re worth, I said.
I wish I didn’t need to explain this to her.
When you commented on the way my body looked, you violated me in front of my husband. My husband who had our daughter in his arms and couldn’t do much to safely diffuse the situation. My husband who had to deal with the emotions I carried afterwards. My husband who thinks my body is beautiful.
I really wish you wouldn’t have done that.
Before you commented on the extra weight you thought I was carrying around, you didn’t take a moment to consider my story and how I would react to your cutting words. You didn’t know if I wished I was pregnant. If I couldn’t get pregnant. If I miscarried or lost or was desperately trying to get pregnant. You have no idea what my body has been through and how deeply those words could have hurt me. You’re lucky that the only pain you caused me was the triggering of my own insecurities.
To the man who asked me if I was pregnant, I want you to know that what you did was wrong, and I’m sharing my story because people need to be aware that men like you exist. Men who think it’s okay to study women’s bodies, who think it’s okay to comment on women’s bodies, who think themselves worthy of these types of conversation.
It’s not okay. You need to check your behavior. And when you do, tell your daughter. She needs you to teach her the way men should treat her.
To the man who asked me if I was pregnant, I hope you never think of me again.