NPR logo Please Mind Your Business, Not My Belly

Ashley Charter

Please Mind Your Business, Not My Belly

Ashley Charter, 21, thinks she's often mistaken for a pregnant teen because she looks younger than her age. Courtesy of Roxy Haney hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Roxy Haney

I don't understand what happens to people when they see a pregnant woman. Some of the comments you hear are insane. I am on the younger side when it comes to wanting to have children, and I understand that, but the bigger I get, it becomes more obvious that people think it's OK to say anything to me.

First of all: Yes, I am pregnant, and no, I do not feel miserable. I can still walk around and do everything I need to just fine. No, my hips don't feel quite as mobile as they did eight months ago, but that's to be expected. After hearing, "You must be miserable" from every random employee at the supermarket, I start to wonder, "Do I look that miserable?"

But to the really annoying part — I am smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, and it's obvious; not just from the fact that there are four different churches on the same block, but the rather displeased looks on people's faces when they see me.

I'm a rather petite person — 4 feet, 11 inches, and a little over 100 pounds pre-pregnancy — so I often get mistaken for being younger than I am. So put together a girl who looks like a teenager, plus pregnancy swelling that means my rings don't really fit anymore, and you end up with the disapproving attitudes that are normally directed toward pregnant teens.

About Ashley

Ashley Charter, 21, is a college student who lives in Lillington, N.C. Her husband, Jesse, is in the Army and is currently deployed to Iraq. They welcomed Abel Weston Charter on July 23.

The amazing thing is the comments that come along with those obviously displeased looks. Earlier this week, a girl in front of me at the store — who I assume was actually in high school — turned around and looked straight at me and said, "Geez, it looks like you're trying to steal a basketball." I didn't even know how to begin to react to that.

Two days later, the same girl in the same store (yay for small towns, right?) saw me walking down the aisle and ran up to me to say hi, and called her mother over while saying, "Mama, you have to see this girl's belly."

I could feel my face turn red. I was so shocked that the girl had said that, and that her mother came over to look like nothing socially unacceptable was taking place. I thought my face was going to melt off when the girl's mother looked at my mother and said, "My little girl just had a baby a few months ago too, and they think it's wrong to not have sex ed in high school."

I just stood there and continued to look through the aisle like they weren't even there. My mother looked at her and said "Well, she is 21 and married," as we walked away.

I honestly do not understand how people can be so rude. Don't get me wrong, teen pregnancy is not a good thing, but my goodness. People seem to believe that just because they think I am 17, they are free to make any comment no matter how inappropriate or rude it may be.