A Word Of Advice To The Stranger Who Grabbed My Fat Belly At Starbucks Thinking I Was Pregnant

Hands. Off.

A Stranger At Starbucks Grabbed My Fat Belly Because She Thought I Was Pregnant Courtesy of the author

Here are four important facts you need to know about me before we get into the terrible floor-please-open-and-swallow-me-right-now-thank-you thing that happened to me at Starbucks today so that you can fully appreciate just how awful an experience this was. 

1. I am fat. 

2. I am 34 years old.

3. I am female. 

4. I am not pregnant. 

All of these are facts you need to know. Their relevance will be explained shortly as I begin my narrative of these foul events.


Prepare yourself because it is MAD cringe-worthy.  

Today, while I waited in line at a Starbucks to use the bathroom, a woman I've never met sidled up into line behind me.

She smiled, and I smile back because that is what you do when someone smiles at you. At least, that's something I do that inexplicably hasn't been beaten out of me after over a decade of living in New York City. 

I should have known better. 

She took my smile as an invitation to talk, you see. I'm not big on chit-chat in general. If I'm going to talk to someone I want it to be for a reason, not just because I feel obligated to do so.


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Plus, waiting-to-sh*t small talk is infinitely worse than all other small talk because while the two of you are standing there talking about the weather or how long the line is, what you are both tacitly saying to each other is, "I need to pee and/or poop and you need to pee and/or poop, but we're not going to directly address the situation because we are strangers and that would be weird." 

This particular small talk, however, would prove to be worse than your average "gosh it's a chilly day" kind of talk.

That's because the woman in line behind me, having made eye contact with me while baring her teeth in a smile, had been welcomed and received by my own toothsome rejoinder, which she apparently took as an invitation to place both her hands on my gut and said to me cheerfully:


"Any day now!" 

It took me a moment of frantic blushing and blinking to realize what she meant.

She thought I was pregnant.

She had mistaken the gentle swell of my fat stomach, replete with that morning egg and cheese on a roll, with that of a growing new life and decided that my portion of breakfast was so sizable that at any moment my water my break and I might welcome a new addition to my family right there in Starbucks. 

To be fair, I'd eaten a lot of cookies the night before, so I can see where she was coming from.

Instinctively, I stepped back and away from her hands. Because that's what you do when a stranger decides to touch you without your permission.


At first, I didn't say anything. I was simply stunned. Her own puzzled expression matched my own. 

She tried again. "Coming along, aren't you?"

To which I finally said (well, barked if I'm being honest), "No. There is nothing coming along."

I walked away from the exchange mortified, both for myself and for her.

I cringed at the thought of being in her shoes, because, frankly, that was easier than sinking into the shame of knowing that I have surpassed a new marker for fat women: Being the one who gets mistaken as pregnant because she cannot keep her fat self from eating. 

I poked at the shame I felt and was surprised when it melted away into something else: White. Hot. Rage. 


Here's the thing. It doesn't matter if I'm fat. It doesn't matter if I'm thin. It doesn't matter if you think I'm pregnant or not.

Regardless of my shape or whatever happens to be growing inside of me, be it baby or burrito, my body — and any woman's body — is not yours to talk about or to touch. Ever! 

I get it. People love babies. And they hate fat people.

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When you see a fat person and think they are pregnant, that concept makes their "fatness" totally okay.

It also gives people the false illusion that their thoughts, opinions, and hands are somehow on the receiving end of a standing invitation when it comes to a pregnant body.


Chances are that this woman didn't seek me out to destroy my day or to paw at the dangling raw nerve system that is my self-esteem.

Chances are she thought that she was being nice, sweet, and even polite!

But the truth of the matter is that we as a society have so little respect for women's bodies that even other women often don't stop and think twice before invading another woman's personal space and/or making comments about her body as though it is all that she is and all she has to offer.


I'm 34.

I'm fat.

I'm not pregnant, but I do hope to be pregnant someday.

Ideally, the next time someone makes a comment about my expectant belly there will be something my belly is actually expecting to give birth to in it. But even if that is the case, it STILL will NOT be okay to comment on or touch it! 

In closing, yes, I would like to make that Frappuccino a Grande.

I'm sipping for two, apparently. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor, and lifestyle writer who has been featured in CafeMom, FemPop, The Awl, Newsweek, and more. For more of her work, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.