Rule: You Just. Don’t. Ask.

When teaching high school English, I endeavored to impress upon my impressionable young ninth graders not only the life-giving truths of simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia, but the simple life rule that you NEVER ASK A WOMAN, ANY WOMAN, IF SHE IS PREGNANT.

“What if she’s obviously pregnant?” they said. They hadn’t yet learned to trust my absolute wisdom. It was the first half of the school year, after all.

“That’s the problem. She might look obviously pregnant, or she might look sort of pregnant. But if she’s NOT pregnant, then you’ve just committed a serious crime. And keeping your mouth shut is always safe.”

Not every person was blessed with a high school English teacher of my caliber. I pity these people.

So let me say this again, for the benefit of busybodies and other uncool members of the public who think it’s okay to ask a woman personal questions about the contents of her uterus: Keeping your mouth shut is always safe.

On the bright side, no one has asked me this question in a long time (it’s either the glare of my gaze or the beer in my hand), and this blog post is instead the result of someone else telling a friend she looked pregnant. And I’ve gotta say, this friend has a supermodel’s body. I would do just about anything to have her body (except give up chocolate, and therein lies the problem, my friends). The fact someone asked Super Amazing Body Friend if she was pregnant is reassuring to ME. But not to SABF.

Again, just in case someone missed the announcement: Keeping your mouth shut is always safe.

It’ll be on Friday’s quiz.

Oh! And don’t forget to comment on last Friday’s post, for a chance to win an advance reader’s copy of Heidi Ayarbe’s new YA book, Compulsion. Click here to go there.


  1. Dana · May 11, 2011

    Did your friend belt them one? I would’ve.

    Who the heck asks this question? Maybe the person had Asperger’s and just is incapable of knowing better. Like one of my ex-bosses. “What did you do to your hair? It looks awful.” and “Wow, have you been gaining weight lately?”

    I like the last tag you gave this, and the artwork. Hehe.

    • Beth Hull · May 11, 2011

      I don’t think she hit the person, but I thought of hitting the socially-clueless person for her. I’ll happily hit your ex-boss, too, if you like. Feeling militant today, I guess.

      People are clueless sometimes. Maybe this post will help overcome their ignorance, and I will relax for the rest of my life (eating chocolate) knowing I have solved one threat to world peace.

  2. thegracefuldoe · May 11, 2011

    My mother-in-law actually asked me that question last week (answer = no I’m not). She then tried to cover up by saying, “You’re looking really good.”

    I never ask even if a woman looks pregnant until she or someone else says something that indicates that she is. I never just go by her stomach. Although a nine month pregnant skinny woman who looks like she has a basketball shoved up her top is probably safe.

    On the other side of the coin, when I was pregnant with my first child a student came up to me while I was on yard duty one day and asked why I was so fat (she was six).

    • Beth Hull · May 11, 2011

      Little kids are so honest. TOO honest sometimes.

      And you’re right – if I’ve heard some indication from the woman herself, or from someone else, then it’s a safe topic.

      Since we’re sharing…one time my husband and I were buying donuts for breakfast, and the donut shop owner asked me if I was expecting! I didn’t eat donuts for a long time after that. 😦

  3. Janna · May 11, 2011

    I had to explain this rule to my 50-something boss. (Who has a wife and a grown daughter.) He then proceeded to ask the same question your students asked – if its okay to ask if a woman obviously looks pregnant. I, and the other three women in the room, responded unequivocally, NO!

    On related matters, my friend posted the following rule on Facebook recently:
    Top four things not to tell a pregnant woman:
    4-Your face looks fuller. (I’ve experienced this one, and let me tell ya, it stings.)
    3-Let me tell you my horrible delivery story…
    2-Are you sure you should be doing that?
    And the number one things not to tell a preggo: Are you sure you aren’t having twins??

    This is from the same woman who overheard her high school students discussing her cankles and subsequently advised them that if they didn’t find cankles attractive they should remain abstinent.


  4. SABF · May 11, 2011

    Thank you for this blog post! Brought much needed smiles and laughs to my day. And, for your information, I did not hit the individual. But I probably should have thrown a banana at their head. 🙂

  5. Beth Hull · May 11, 2011

    I love your friend’s rules, Janna! WTF, “Your face looks fuller?” What is it with people not thinking about what they say? Grr.

    And SABF, I’m glad you had a chance to see this post today! If you need any bananas, gimme a call…heehee, Mommy X.

  6. Pingback: Stuff to check out | In the Land of Ridd

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