As most people who read my column probably already know, I'm a bit pudgy. Probably even a little more than pudgy, I'm actually kind of chunky. I don't generally let this bother me too much, but over the past couple months I gained 2 pounds. Two pounds may not sound like much, but for me it seems like it was a very critical 2 pounds.
I have a body shape known as an "apple," rather than a "pear." This is not because I can be sweet and firm at the same time, but because I gain weight in my midsection rather than in my below-the-waist section. Unfortunately, I probably resemble a pot-bellied pig more than an apple. I eat everything, I'm surprisingly adept at living in apartments, and to the right audience, I am totally adorable.
Now, with the addition of my 2 extra pounds of midsection weight, people often think that I am pregnant. I know that most of us have probably made that mistake before, that really awkward moment when you ask someone when their due date is, and then want to lie on the floor, cringing in embarrassment after you've found out that the only thing in the room that's pregnant is that long silent pause in the conversation.
Imagine feeling that embarrassed and awkward several times a week. I know it's embarrassing for the person who made an honest mistake, but it's also embarrassing for me, as well. I'm ashamed of my weight, and also incredibly embarrassed on behalf of the other person.
When my son, Silas, was younger, I would laugh off the occasional mistake that people would make, and say, "Oh, I had my baby! I've just still got some baby weight." Silas is now 8.
I've tried the excuse more recently, but it inevitably leads to someone asking me how old my child is and the embarrassment starts all over again as I try to explain away pregnancy weight that is nearly a decade old.
Usually it's people at my work that think I'm pregnant. I can understand this; there are a large number of pregnant women at my work right now. People see two or three pregnant women come into their room and by the time it's my turn to come in and see someone they've got pregnancy on the brain.
One woman that I met at work asked if I was pregnant and was, as is usually the case, incredibly embarrassed when I told her that I wasn't. She felt so apologetic that she brought in a huge bowl of Halloween candy as an apology present. I had to explain that I was going to share the candy with my co-workers rather than eat it all, since I obviously have some self-control issues when it comes to sweets. And salts. And bread. Me and the pot-bellied pig, we're omnivores.
Once in a great while, if I feel confident that I will never see the person again for the rest of my life (a rare circumstance in a valley as small as ours), I'll just go with it. Sure! I'm pregnant! I'm about six months along! Yes, My husband and I are incredibly excited (if I'm going to fake a pregnancy I might as well fake myself a nice husband, too). I'm usually having a boy, other times I like to mix things up.
One time a co-worker walked in on a conversation like this and stared at me with fear in her eyes; she probably thought I was having a psychotic break. She finally walked the rest of the way into the room, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Zoe? You're not pregnant." I don't often blush, but just remembering this story makes me blush, and I'm sure at the time I turned a lovely shade of puce.
So now I'm back to going to the gym and watching what I eat. I may have a fair amount of weight to lose, but the good news is I should only be about 2 pounds away from looking nonpregnant again.
After writing this, Zoe Abel can never fake another pregnancy. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.