Apparently, mom-shaming starts before the child is even born. Jane Helpern just learned this at a hair salon, where an employee scolded her for having the audacity to get her roots touched up. In an Allure essay, Helpern tells this effed-up story and calls for an end to the shaming of pregnant women we've somehow come to consider socially acceptable.
When Helpern visited the same salon she'd gone to for five years to get her roots bleached, a man told her he'd never seen a pregnant woman do such a thing and that she must "not give a fuck." He compared her beauty routine to a childhood incident in which he spilled acid on himself. Mind you, there's no scientific basis for this: Using hair dye is perfectly safe during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"There is nothing society enjoys more than policing the behaviour of pregnant ladies, or so it seems," she writes. "The list of behavioural restrictions is as endless and ever-expanding as our bodies — spanning the consumption of tuna melts and the taking of hot baths to the changing of cat litter to the ancient practice of gardening."
In fact, pregnant-woman-shaming starts before women are even pregnant. Last year, the CDC released guidelines suggesting that all sexually active women not on birth control — i.e., anyone who might possibly become pregnant — avoid alcohol completely, eliciting criticism for imposing impossible standards on women.
Of course, there's value in learning what might affect the outcome of a pregnancy. But we need to respect women's right to do what they want with that information. And we really need to stop giving them unsolicited advice about decisions that are none of our business.
Take it from Helpern, since she would know: "If you know or happen to encounter a pregnant lady, please keep your opinions to yourself and trust that she knows what’s best for her body and her baby. Let her have that 4 oz. glass of wine and soft cheese plate in peace. Chances are she’s done her research."