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WHY WE TELL PREGNANT WOMEN "NOW IS THE TIME TO EAT WHAT YOU WANT"

Updated: Mar 18

AND WHAT IT REALLY MEANS


INCITING INCIDENT:


Today, I was an observer to an interaction between a 60 something male (let's call him Bob) and 30 something female coworker (we'll call her Jane).


Jane stops by Bob's office and comments on how good his cheesesteak looks. Bob, knowing Jane is newly pregnant, offers the advice "you can eat this now, you're pregnant. You can eat whatever you want." Bob informs me that Jane normally eats salads and is very thin but now she doesn't have to be. He also tells me how the whole office gets on her about how she's always eating salad.


LET'S DISSECT:


- This interaction implies that Jane needs to stay thin until pregnant.

- Now pregnant, she has an excuse to "let herself go"

- Now's her time to live freely, because she's doing something that men deem valuable.

-And after? Will Jane need to "reel it in" to "bounce back" after giving birth?


WHY THIS IS PROBLEMATIC:


- It perpetuates the belief that women are objects maintaining their bodies as a way to attract men to have children with them.

- Now that that conquest is complete, the woman is given permission by other men to stop shrinking, eat what she pleases, and has a "free pass".

- This message affirms that thin is the ideal, fat is only acceptable while you're pregnant. Eat up while you can.


SIDE BAR:


Bob has a slew of health problems and has no business eating that cheesesteak nor recommending it as a lunch on a Wednesday at the office for anyone.

Cheesesteaks can have a place in a healthy diet. They belong at home or at a game or after a night out, when they are truly enjoyed to the fullest.


LESSONS LEARNED:


-Women do not need to be thin to be accepted.

-Women are not objects.

-Women need to eat to be healthy in life and during pregnancy, Bob should try it.

- Women don't need an excuse (pregnancy) to eat what they desire.

-Implying that pregnant women have earned the right to eat what they want, implies they don't have that right the rest of their lives.

- If you think telling a woman it's ok to eat whatever she wants during pregnancy is not about equating women's worth with her thinness. Then, what qualifies you to be giving a pregnant woman health advice?


We royally fuck women over during and after pregnancy. This is just the start. Everyone has an opinion, feels the need to share it with this person who is going through a transformation period.


Recall a transformational period in your life, now think about if it would've been improved by every person you interact with in year period giving you their opinion.


Pregnant women are given the culmination of every mixed message we have in our current society about women. We tell them to let themselves go, eat what they want, bounce back immediately. If she plans to breast feed, we ask how her partner will bond with the baby. If she plans to bottle feed, we tell her the benefits of breast milk. Whatever decision she tells you when you ask her plans to feed her baby, you'll spew your experience at her.


WHY DO I CARE?


1. I might want to be pregnant in the future.


2. Because you're bombarding pregnant women with unsolicited advice, pregnant women are less likely to reach out for support and accurate health information they need to know. You're overwhelming them and they can't think.


3. This behavior and belief is a set up for eating disorders, disordered eating, and mental health issues in postpartum women. All of which are already a safety concern for women.


4. Moving the goal post is burning women out. We don't understand how we are supposed to play by the rules when everything is a double bind.


5. When we realize everything is a double bind, refuse to deal with it. You find ways to label to discredit and punish us.


6. Women deserve support. Overwhelm is the opposite of support. Projecting your rules onto another person is the opposite of support.


7. Women especially deserve support in times of transformation and transition. The transitions in life are the hardest periods humans go through.


8. Women need space and support to have their own experience and listen to themselves to know what's best for themselves. Your noise is wearing them out and clouding their minds when they need themselves the most.



Pregnant women are wrapping their head around their life change, how it will impact her, her partner, and/or family's lives. And there everyone is busting in with tons of questions.


Tell us, What do you plan to be doing a year from now Susan and Bob? Do you plan to stay at this position? How might your life change in a year?


Maybe if people (still) commented on your appearance and eating habits you'd make different choices too and also be ridiculed by your coworkers for eating salad.







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