Q. My lovely daughter-in-law is expecting her first baby at the end of November. She works in a very upscale ladies’ clothing store. Celebrities are most often their clients. They continually tell her how big she is. This is so rude and mean! There must be a tactful way to shut them up and make them realize what they are doing is hurtful.
A. Yes, how hurtful, insensitive, rude and inappropriate for anyone (family, close friends, strangers) to make comments to a mother-to-be concerning her size or weight gain. As a matter of fact, referring to anyone’s weight, whether pregnant or not, is rude and “verboten” One wonders what people are thinking when they make thoughtless comments about weight especially to pregnant women. Unfortunately, the answer is: they are not thinking at all before speaking. Do they actually think mentioning a pregnant woman’s size or weight gain is a compliment or something which will make her feel glamorous when she likely does not.
Perhaps it is a question of what kind of manners and etiquette individuals who make comments like this, were taught when they were little children. Or, apparently not taught. As a little girl growing up, I never heard my immediate family, or extended family and friends mention anything about pregnancy or pregnant women at all. Conversations regarding private, personal matters, such as this, were that: private.
As to what a pregnant can do or say in your daughter-in-law’s position, when someone comments about her size or weight gain, the answer is, unfortunately: better to say nothing. Why, because the person who said it would either not be smart enough to “get it” (as they say in today’s world) or might feel “confronted” and uncomfortable. The result could then be a problem for your daughter-in-law with her employer. It is far more mature and well-mannered to just smile and ignore the comment or say “Thank you, I feel wonderful”.
If someone does not know what the appropriate comment is to say to a pregnant woman, here are some suggestions:
What a pretty (or beautiful) dress you are wearing today.
You look so beautiful today.
You look beautiful.
That is a great color for you.
You look great (or wonderful)!
Note: Thank you to the reader who sent in this comment regarding the “age” subject in my last column:
Great story on age. You might add advice that came from my father. “Never regret growing old as many are denied the privilege.” So people who do not want to tell their age — just look in the paper and see how many young people pass on each day. They would have loved to be able to tell people I am 80. So tell your readers be proud of your age. I am at 64 and my brother died at 56.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.