The 1 Truly Offensive Thing No One Should Ever Say to a Fat, Pregnant Woman

Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina

I'd wager that most fat people are used to being interrogated about their health on a regular basis. In my own life, the questions sometimes seem constant: Do I work out? Are vegetables part of my daily diet? Am I at all concerned with my blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or the possibility of heart failure and diabetes in my future? The questions that only seemed to double when I was expecting my daughter, Luna. My already-fat body got even fatter -- you know, because pregnant women are supposed to gain weight. And suddenly, relatives, nurses, and even strangers on the internet became obsessed with asking me a new question: Was my baby OK?


It might seem innocent enough at first, when void of context. Retrospectively, however, it was probably the most offensive question I could’ve been asked as a fat mom-to-be. You see, to some of these people, it seemed impossible that I could give birth to a perfectly healthy child. After all, fat bodies are thought to be inherently damaged and unhealthy. We are believed to be an “epidemic.” The thought that we might be able to carry our babies to term sans challenges or defects genuinely blows some folks’ minds -- and sometimes, it’s worse than that.

Marie Southard Ospina

Sometimes people don’t believe that fat women should be allowed to get pregnant in the first place (internet trolls were particularly keen on telling me this). So certain are they that fatness is deplorable, that they think it best we skip on reproduction altogether. We wouldn’t want to risk passing on the "disease," right? And anyway, our kids may end up resenting us for being so gross-looking. Why risk it?

I’ve long felt that, as a culture, when we're not determining people's worth by their beauty -- in a very conventional sense of the word -- we resort to determining it by their health status. If fat people can prove that they are clinically healthy, they are often given an existential pass that other fat, unhealthy people are denied.

Normally, I respond to questions about my health with some derivative of, “That’s no one’s concern but mine,” or “I don’t owe anyone my health.” When I was pregnant, however, the question of my daughter’s health, which almost always felt more like an accusation, was more irksome than the standard insult, “Why don’t you join a gym, fatso?”

Marie Southard Ospina

I guess this is because it was such solid proof that we live in a world that, for the most part, cannot conceive of the intersection between happiness and fatness, or fatness and wellbeing. The messaging that fat people aren’t supposed to dress in cool clothes, or date beautiful people, or have incredible sex, or get married to someone who actually loves them, or have children of their own, or live a well-balanced life is pervasive -- and it not only affects fat people’s perceptions of themselves, but other people’s perceptions of fat existence.

It isn’t just that we’re not “supposed” to do these things, either. It’s that some folks genuinely don’t believe we can: Like they think it’s a biological impossibility for fat people to get laid or make babies; let alone have babies born free of any health concerns.

The information, or misinformation, out there about pregnancy and fatness doesn’t help matters. During my third trimester, in particular, doctors grew very fond of telling me that my weight might "complicate" the birth. Whenever I’d ask how or why, they would simply say, “Well, your BMI makes you a high risk.” They rarely told me more than this.

The only solid information I ever got was that if my baby ended up being heavier than average, her head might not be able to fit through my vagina and I’d need a C-section. When I was actually in labor with Luna, I also learned that some anesthesiologists may not have much experience giving fat patients epidurals. Mine didn’t, which meant she stabbed my back approximately ten times in order to get the needle in the right place -- the consequence being months of severe back pain; an issue that I still don’t believe was my fault, but rather a result of the medical community’s incompetence and poor training.

The Internet filled in some other blanks, telling me that my weight increased the risk of Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia (or, increased protein levels in the urine that often result in high blood pressure). I never experienced either, though. And I know many fellow fat mothers who could say the same.

Courtney Mina, plus size writer, blogger, and model is one of them. She carried and delivered her baby with no complications whatsoever in 2017, despite weighing in the 350 to 400-pound range herself, and now has a happy, gorgeous little girl.

Courtney Mina

“If having a child is something you want, do it,” she says. “If complications arise from it, so be it, that’s life. Pregnancy is always a risk, to every woman, no matter her size. Being fat doesn’t change that. What does matter is your attitude, your dedication, and your willingness to accept and deal with whatever comes your way. At the end of the day, you have every right and [just as much of a] chance to have a smooth, healthy pregnancy, as anyone else.”

I weighed close to 300 pounds when my daughter was born -- but in the end, I too had the smooth, healthy pregnancy Mina referred to. Luna fit through my vagina, she came out as wide-eyed and alien-esque as any other baby, and she’s developed beautifully in the thirteen months since. Thankfully, I've seen no evidence to suggest that she won't keep on doing so.

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