Monday was great.
The child and I spent time with some kids/moms neither of us knew very well.
It was a welcome reminder of the fact the persona we see at drop off or pick up (rushed, brusque) is not always who the person is.
Book. Cover. Judgeth not.
As often happens when women gather conversation turned fitness and weight-loss.
Not negative self-talk, fat talk and other sorts of discussions I strive to avoid/or nudge to the positive, but more laughing about the awkward life-moments which have come out of trying to get fit.
And, as often happens with people who aren’t aware Ive not always been fit & healthy, one mom looked at me and joked:
Can you even relate to any of our stories? I bet you can’t, can you?
“Oh Sister,” I longed to say, yet didn’t quite know her well enough for said sister reference.
“I can relate. I’ve been there, experienced that, and yes he thought I was pregnant.”
It would make for a better story, perhaps, to say “I’d entirely forgotten about the awkward-interactions until yesterday’s conversation” but I’d be lying.
I may have moved past—but I definitely remember.
The first was so predictable and verging on trite (can you say that in reference to real life?!) it still feels as though it belongs more in poorly written TV sit com than in real life.
I was car shopping.
I owned a large dog.
years later. still no mini-van.
I knew most likely I didn’t want to own a minivan sized car since I had no child(ren), but given Hercules’ size (and ick-capacity. note the rope of drool in the photo above) I decided check them out anyway.
I’d look around the *entire* lot before committing to a test drive.
(Can you see where I’m going with this?)
The salesman followed close behind making a valiant effort to spark conversation and get his sales pitch going.
(I’m sure you can guess now?)
I approached the ‘too big for my needs but would rock for Hercules’ vehicle.
I opened the trunk, peered inside and tried to envision my canine companion leaping into the mini-van.
(Now you know, yes?)
I turned. The salesman turned. He looked at me and said:
“Oh!! I see! You’re expecting!! How exciting!!” He called out as he scampered to my side.
I was not. Either expecting a child or his comment.
And, of course, being who *I* am (character flaw alert!), I grew more embarrassed for him and his error than even for myself.
Time has gifted me the inability to recall precisely how I clarified for him I was not expecting (I imagine 20something me turned the joke on myself).
Time has not gifted me the inability feel on a visceral level how embarrassing the entire situation was.
(and no. no car was purchased.)
same tattoo. different lifestyle.
The next interaction was more humorous (even in the moment), but also transpired in front of someone I r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to impress.
Someone I eventually married.
Three of us were hanging out and the conversation eventually turned to tattoos (shocking, I realize).
My then-boyfriend said to his friend:
You should see the tattoo around her navel! Show him your Star of David!
Before I could we were distracted by something and it was only later I remembered I was going to show Then-Boyfriend’s (very, very fit) friend my navel art.
I lifted my shirt slightly (just enough so he could see the ink) and waited to hear what he thought.
Without missing a beat the friend glanced at my belly and said (loudly. we were now in a big group and no longer just 3):
That’s not so bad. You can probably lose that pretty quickly.
Yep. He’d forgotten the tattoo-comment and assumed I was showing him my stomach in search of weight-loss tips.
Whats my point with all this?
In a small way it is a reminder never to judge a person’s experience
by how s/he currently looks.
In a bigger way, yesterday reminded me of the positive-power of laughing at situations & ourselves and how contagious laughter can be.
I didn’t laugh back then.
I only mildly chuckled a year or so later.
Yesterday, as we normalized experiences & laid witness to how far we’d each come (emotionally and physically), all of us were able to find at least a kernel of humor in the awkward life experiences we shared.
- Have you found sharing uncomfortable experiences helps you see they’re not so bad after all?
Runner Girl saysOctober 13, 2015 at 4:49 am
I think I judge books by their human covers a lot.
When I see a skinny girl joining us for a run I assume she’s lucky and has always been skinny.
Allie saysOctober 13, 2015 at 5:06 am
YES, totally! I also always feel worse for the “commentor” and try to make it ok for them too. Why do we do that?
I also love when a group thinks I cannot relate to something like weight loss or struggling with fitness, etc. I always have a few stories at the ready 🙂
Liz saysOctober 13, 2015 at 5:11 am
Omg! I would have died at the belly comment.
Coco saysOctober 13, 2015 at 5:53 am
Yes! That’s why we need “new mom” groups and “running” groups and “blogging” groups so we can discuss all those “TMI” topics and realize that we are not alone.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysOctober 13, 2015 at 6:00 am
People see me now and don’t believe that I was ever larger or overweight. You never know someone’s history until you ask about it.
And I have found myself in this situation (but from a different angle, the wanting to ask angle) a few times this summer! I kept my mouth shut!
Bea saysOctober 13, 2015 at 6:12 am
I do that same thing. I get embarrassed for the person who was the idiot and I never know what to say!!
Kelly saysOctober 13, 2015 at 6:35 am
UGH! What is wrong with people? My husband and I are car shopping now, and we are thinking about a wagon. We have no kids. The assumptions people make and feel like they’re entitled to share are astonishing. Fabulous tattoo, by the way.
Corinne Rodrigues saysOctober 13, 2015 at 6:42 am
Good reminder! It’s easy to fall into the trap of judging others based on their present situation.
Thanks for the smiles too!
Pamela Hernandez saysOctober 13, 2015 at 6:58 am
Yes! While I try not to make the gym about me – it’s about my clients – it helps when I share my former unhealthy girl awkward moments. Like the time my boss said to my teammates “skinny people like you” and I was decidedly not included in that group….
Leanne@crestingthehill saysOctober 13, 2015 at 7:08 am
the moral of the story is never (that would be NEVER) assume someone is pregnant and if you are silly enough to assume it then DON’T say anything – you can’t unsay it! Looking at your mighty impressive abs now you will never have to worry about that comment again. I have huge envy of your fitness level 🙂
Jennifer FIsher saysOctober 13, 2015 at 7:16 am
Well, in my late 20s my older male running coach (who prided himself on a few of his Olympic athletes) pinched the flesh at my waist and said — too many candy bars? Mind you I am 5’7″ and was then *maybe* 120 soaking wet . . . not a waif, but definitely fit,and was secretly pregnant — could run a 2:50 marathon, damn straight. Gotta say, I did NOT feel embarrassed for his comment, he was an ASS. But, honestly, it took a week to get over it — and I apparently am still bugged by it.
Jody - Fit at 57 saysOctober 13, 2015 at 7:35 am
I could write a book… some help.. some just make it more raw… BUT I remember all the bad stuff from being overweight for sure!
Jamie @ Rise.Run.Mom.Repeat. saysOctober 13, 2015 at 7:46 am
The best thing about being friends with other women is for exactly this! None of us are alone. We’ve ALL been there.
crabby mcslacker saysOctober 13, 2015 at 7:57 am
Somehow I suspect when men gather talk does not immediately turn to weight and fitness! But funny how inevitable it is for women. Why are we so obsessed? Although it IS more interesting than how the Cowboys/49ers/Patriots etc are doing. Gender is too funny.
Becki @ Fighting for Wellness saysOctober 13, 2015 at 8:10 am
As much as I try to find humor in these things, they can still be so hurtful. My freshman year in high school my aunt said to me, “Don’t worry, we can definitely get you smaller by your junior prom.” People think they’re helping even when they aren’t.
Sagan saysOctober 13, 2015 at 8:17 am
I get together with some girlfriends every couple months or so for wine & cheese, and one aspect of our get-togethers tends to be the sharing of these types of stories. It gets pretty hilarious – and it helps to know that others can relate to exactly what you’re talking about!
Drives me CRAZY though the number of times that I’ve heard people say comments based on a person’s appearance, and they just make broad assumptions about how a person must have good genetics (or, conversely, must be lazy). UGH. Why is it so hard for people to take a step back and realize that there is so much that they don’t know about others?!
Sharon Greenthal saysOctober 13, 2015 at 8:18 am
Inevitably whatever awkward experience I’ve had, someone has had a similar one. Share away!
Michelle saysOctober 13, 2015 at 8:26 am
I often share it for a funny story even if I don’t find it funny yet. I find that making it funny for others can often make it sting less in my brain and start to be humorous.
I work on a radio call in advice show. The host is an older man (70s) who is great on the air but socially awkward and not very observant in real life. We were stuck waiting together in the lobby and he tried to make small talk with me. He looked me up and down and said “So you are still pregnant? When are you going to have that baby?” We had never spoken before and I was most definitely not pregnant. In his defense, I was wearing a baby doll type shirt (empire waist and flowy) but come on man! I tried to crack a joke while letting him know I hadn’t been pregnant in years. He was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. I told the other folks in the control room (one of who is his wife) and they all cringed but no one was surprised as he apparently does that sort of thing and the woman who had the job before me had left because she was having a baby. So every time we are short on calls, I offer to call in and ask advice on how to make things less awkward with my bone head boss who asked if I was pregnant.
liz saysOctober 13, 2015 at 9:04 am
I could write a book full of this type of experience. My ADD combined with my family and personal history has created a rich environment for embarrassing behavior.
Erica saysOctober 13, 2015 at 9:46 am
It is never okay to assume a woman is pregnant. My motto is, unless her water just broke on your shoes, never ask and never assume. It pisses me off so much that people are always commenting on women’s appearances. We don’t do this to men. Aside from the pregnancy comments, or weight gain comments women often get, I also hate the, “You look tired.” Does anyone really think that’s going to be taken well? There is still this assumption that it is our job, as women, to be thin and attractive. Men, on the other hand, do not live under this same expectation. That being said, we women are just as much to blame for the negative comments we throw around about others’ appearances.
Jenn saysOctober 13, 2015 at 10:03 am
I tend to assume that skinny gals are blessed more often than not. This is especially ironic, as most people wouldn’t know by looking at me that I had a “before” story.
A woman actually implied to me via Facebook that I was jealous of hard-working skinny moms because I wasn’t willing to put in the work. Ouch!
Losing 100 pounds takes a lot of work, but so does putting your foot in your mouth every time you think you “know” someone.
Thanks for highlighting this, Carla!
Haralee saysOctober 13, 2015 at 10:55 am
Great reminder to not prejudge or make really stupid comments! I would have a hard time wearing clothing at all if I had a body like yours. I would also be performing for everyone if I like you was able to do a head stand on a moment whim!
I had one woman in the market ask me if my kids had lice too. She was referring to my very short hair just regrowing from chemo. During the same time period another woman ask me why lesbians all cut their hair so short. I did not know either woman. My entire life I have a persona or face or something that people feel they can talk to me!
Laurie Oien saysOctober 13, 2015 at 11:18 am
Remember no one is perfect. Everyone’s ass has a crack in it!
Love this saying and a good one to remember through life.
Estelle saysOctober 13, 2015 at 11:42 am
I’m sorry but all I could see in that picture was your amazing abs!
Tamara saysOctober 13, 2015 at 11:45 am
I’m like you. I always feel more embarrassed for the commenter than myself. Although I do wish I were better with the snappy come-backs…
Sandra Laflamme saysOctober 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm
Experiences like that after the fact are often funny however in the moment they can be hurtful.
Sandra Laflamme saysOctober 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm
Powerful though how stories can be such great connectors!
Marcia saysOctober 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm
This just happened at “meet the teacher” before school started. One of the moms was speculating the teacher was pregnant and was on her way to up ask. I held her back with all my might. Some people I just don’t “get”.
mimi saysOctober 13, 2015 at 3:04 pm
There have been a few embarassing moments, and i do try to laugh them off so others don’t feel uncomfortable. It’s great when you can connect with people and all laugh about these things that happen to everyone.
Geosomin saysOctober 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm
We had a lab instructor as a student at the start of a semester when she was due (to be fair she did look about 6 months pregnant but I’ve learned to never go there!). She wasn’t pregnant. The whole rest of the semester was horribly awkward for them both…
I still think of myself as pudgy and awkward so I don’t see the me that people see now. I think it’s easy to forget how we all have our pasts and things we’ve dealt with and really can’t tell at all 🙂
Carly @ Fine Fit Day saysOctober 14, 2015 at 12:45 am
My husband says he will never ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless the baby is crowning in front of him. Luckily, he has only witnessed this moment twice (with me, in a hospital.) It also led to him *never* sitting down during rush hour during his 17 years of commuting on NYC subways because he just didn’t want to deal with the struggle of “Should I offer her my seat because she’s pregnant…right? Right??? But what if she’s not pregnant?”
misszippy saysOctober 14, 2015 at 7:14 am
It’s funny how time/situations change things. There was a time when awkward comments would probably get to me (20s?) but not at all now. But say it about one of my kids….
Jess @hellotofit saysOctober 14, 2015 at 7:24 am
Gahhh at your stories!!
I’ve found that telling people about my embarrassing moments lightens the mood and makes me more relatable hehe. Esp when training or teaching a class.
Lisa @ RunWiki saysOctober 14, 2015 at 8:47 am
I have been asked if pregnant ( I had twins and have a permanent belly/saggy skin) and honestly, for me, I felt horribly uncomfortable for the person who said it, but for me it wasn’t that horrible or humiliating. With that said, I have never struggled with weight issues and I am a very forward in my conversation ( think New Yorker- and friends called me things like, “Bitch” without offense) kind of person.. does that make sense? I would never ask someone if they are pregnant ( these are personal matters) and I am a very sensitive person when it comes to others, but it’s tough to offend me ( although someone did say to me the other day, “must be nice to be a stay at home and blog all day.” I was kind of annoyed because of her catty tone, and then I agreed with her. Let’s hope I am not offending anyone by not being offended. Tee hee.
Rena McDaniel saysOctober 14, 2015 at 11:24 am
Oh sister! My whole life has been filled up with moments like this! Being able to look back and laugh now is one of the greatest gifts of midlife!
Elle saysOctober 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm
My friend told me a similar story once and it really stuck with me. Since then, I would never ask or assume someone is pregnant unless they are more than 7 months along and it’s very, very, very obvious!
And I agree, we should never judge a book by it’s cover. Who knows, the person on the receiving end might be take is as a joke and laugh or they could be extremely sensitive and take the comment way out of hand. It’s something I keep in mind because I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments in the past!