WIW and K/P: More food baby woes

Should I get rid of this sweater--does it make me look pregnant?

I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but I keep getting stupid comments about me being pregnant. This time one of my coworkers thought it would be hilarious to tell another coworker I was pregnant so coworker B came up and congratulated me and said he heard I was expecting. Then Coworker A came and told Coworker C (in front of me), "Did you hear what evil person B did? He was saying that Dr. N was preg...." I angrily told him to stop and that it wasn't funny. But the stupid thing is that then I cried because I was so upset and angry at him. I'm so embarrassed that I cried at work. It stings because one of the doctors is actually pregnant--not me! I am so sick and tired of these comments. It's not just him, my patients ask me this at least once or twice a month. One of my other coworkers asked me this (not in a joking way, he was serious). Even my own 4 year old patted my tummy recently and said "Is there anyone in there?" (ETA: I'm not mad at anyone except for coworker A, because he did it on purpose to make fun of me--he is known for playing practical jokes on all the staff, but they are sometimes a bit inappropriate or offensive).

I'm not overweight or obese, I have a normal BMI. Yes I have a tummy, I had three babies so I don't have a perfect bikini body. I don't have much time to exercise because I'm so busy with kids and work. When I'm on call, I'm often working until midnight and last week I was up till 3 am one night because of emergency procedures.

I am trying to eat better and exercise when I can, but short of getting plastic surgery (which I don't want to do because of potential risks of complications, since I have kids, who ironically are the source of my issue), how can I get these comments to stop? It's really wearing me down and making me feel bad about myself. It doesn't seem to matter whether I wear loose baggy clothes or fitted clothes (it's way worse when my clothes are fitted). I don't want to starve myself or spend all my free time at the gym (I try to do exercise videos at home after the kids are in bed, but lately I've been having to catch up on my charting at night). When I'm done with work, I'd rather spend two or three hours with my kids before they go to bed instead of staying late to go to the gym. Sorry to unload, but I am so demoralized and need a shoulder to cry on!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • kikidee replied 6 years ago

    So sorry this happened to you!! I also work in the medical field with babies and kids so I have some perspective on the issue. Although it is unfortunate that your coworker is so insensitive, there are many unflattering adjectives I could use to describe that person.
    I also have had patients or coworkers ask if I was expecting. I attribute it to their wanting to share in the joy and excitement of new life! Especially when babies are our profession, it seems that’s what our patients and clients are focused on.
    Instead of seeing it as a reflection of your body shape, I would see it as a reflection of how young and happy you must be!! I have been wistful but appreciative in recent years as I develop wrinkles and a few gray hairs that I rarely get asked those questions anymore!
    I love the sweater on you by the way, it is killer!! I know you are a hard worker and a great mom with great style, don’t let the meanies out there get to you!!

  • JAileen replied 6 years ago

    You don't look pregnant!!! You look healthy to me. I admire you for wanting to spend what free time you have with your children.

    People don't ask me if I'm pregnant because I have nearly white hair. So there's that..

  • replied 6 years ago

    No, it does not make you look pregnant.

    I really thought we all knew by now that you should never speculate on wether or not someone's pregnant. Best case scenario is it's going to go badly, worst is it's mortifying to everyone involved.

    Sadly, some people haven't caught up yet, and the issue is NOT wether you look pregnant or even about you at all, it's about THEM commenting inappropriately on your appearance in the workplace. 

    Maybe it's time for a little damage control from HR? Especially at the moment when inappropriate behavior in the workplace is in every news source, circulating a refresher course on what not to say or do seems timely.

    I'm sad to hear someone hurt your feelings. I've never seen you as anything other than lovely, with happy, loved, children and beautiful clothes worn joyfully. You're about as close as a person can get to someone who has it all and I'm sure you've inspired many women. 

  • Elle replied 6 years ago

    You look wonderful in the picture and very attractive in that sweater. More importantly,  I admire you for working a demanding job while raising three children

    I"m so sorry you are having to deal with this. I feel you are the subject of work place harassment.  These comments are not meant kindly and although they may say they are joking, it similar to laughing when someone slips on a banana. It is inappropriate behavior. Having said that, I'm not sure there is much you can do except to coldly say no with no explanation and no smile when asked if you are pregnant. They want to provoke a reaction so don't give them one.  If you have an HR department that isn't a ineffectual (most are), you can ask for harassment training

    It's very tempting to to say you were taught it wasn't polite to comment on someone's appearance and that therefore you have refrained on pointing out their flabby arms/large rear/etc. 

  • Joyce B replied 6 years ago

    It’s not you, it’s them. I agree with Isabel on bringing in HR. What they are doing is a HIPAA violation. You don’t have to disclose to your coworkers if you are or are not pregnant. If you were a patient or a friend to one of them and they disclosed information they would be in violation. Many have been terminated for unduly disclosing medical information. It should not be different with colleagues and coworkers. One would think people in the medical field would know better but obviously many still don’t. They can use a good refresher for sure.
    I always wait until they either tell me they are pregnant or until it’s so obvious that the woman is ready to go into labor before congratulating.
    And no, you do not look pregnant. You work very hard in addition to being a very dedicated mom. The little bits are a scar of battle but they will go away eventually.
    The sweater looks lovely on you and will be good in the cold weather. It does not make you look pregnant.
    You could develop a comeback sentence to stop your coworkers from acting stupid. You could ask them if they are or, if they are men, if their wives or girlfriends are pregnant.

  • The Cat replied 6 years ago

    You don't look pregnant in that sweater. You look GREAT! Wear it proudly.

    I am sorry to hear about what you are going through at your workplace, and would encourage you to tell your boss and HR about it.

    By the way, I wonder how coworker A and others reacted if they saw you cry. It may have made them realize how difficult they make it for you. If so, they must be very rude if they continue making those comments.

    I recently read an interesting article on how to handle bullying. Though it was primarily written for teenagers, some of the practical advice can be useful for adults as well. I will try to link to it here:

    Warm thoughts and best wishes.

  • Jane replied 6 years ago

    It is so not you, and so other people’s issue.

    I think you have a very balanced views and your priorities seem right to me.

    I very much like the top, and I think you should keep it. I think you are absolutely right to share / vent with YLF.

  • LaPed replied 6 years ago

    Ugh, I'm so sorry that happened to you. There is a lot of body shaming, intentional and unintentional, in the health care profession. You'd think people who dedicate their careers to health and wellness would have figured out how to deal with this by now!

    Anyway, no. You don't look pregnant AT ALL. The sweater is awesome -- cozy and edgy at the same time. Some people (men) assume that if you're wearing roomy clothing, you're trying to hide something. I'm rolling my eyes over here at your shallow coworker. Hope there's someone in HR who's able to set him straight.

  • jill58 replied 6 years ago

    Wow, that is just so rude and not funny. What an idiot. Again, you do not look pregnant. I feel outraged on your behalf. I don't know why people think it's ok to make any sort of comment about other people's bodies.  Also, I totally sympathize re: crying at work. As a doctor you're under lots of stress--plus you've got young children--a hectic schedule. Who wouldn't cry? These people you work with are dunces. Nobody should have to endure this kind of behavior.

  • MsMary replied 6 years ago

    Ugh. People are horrible.

    Sending big hugs!

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    Your coworker`s behaviour was shocking.  How could anyone think that was funny?  It is bullying.  You are a hardworking, caring and attentive physician who also is a mother.  Do these people not have better things to do! 
    You have always impressed me with your passion for your work and your family.  And your amazing style.  Your sweater is fantastic.  You look lovely.

  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    That's just terrible.  I'm shocked that your coworkers would even discuss you being pregnant - it's just so frowned upon normally.  Anyway... I think the sweater looks great on you and I don't see any tummy, even from the side view.

  • Jenni NZ replied 6 years ago

    I feel so sorry that this has happened and want to give you a big hug. You look gorgeous in the sweater. I understand feeling demoralised and hope gradual body acceptance may come your way over time. As a doctor myself I decided it didn't mean I had to be perfect including having perfect health practices. I definitely think playing with the kids is more important than trying to do extra exercise when you are working so hard. Also crying at work, which I have done occasionally over the years, is not to be embarrassed by but a sign of the stress you are under. If you could involve HR over your co-workers behaviour that may help stop him doing similar to others?
    With regard to your own 4-year old who of course is quite oblivious, it could be a teaching experience about body shapes and variation? Much love to you x

  • kellygirl replied 6 years ago

    Keep and wear this! You look beautiful as always. Shame on your coworker—some people have no clue. I want to kick him in the a#$! Sending you hugs. You look great!

  • gradfashionista replied 6 years ago

    Regarding the sweater, no, I don’t see any belly protruding, and can only assume that people might ask based on the cut and bagginess. On that note: wtf is wrong with your colleagues. It is offensive to ask and comment on a woman’s body like that unless she volunteers the information—why is that so difficult to understand? It’s not funny as a joke, either, given the sensitivity of pregnancy, infertility, and miscarriage that affect so many women. I think your colleagues need sensitivity training, which would be required if you worked in a hospital and reported them. Otherwise, I would probably send a cautionary email to the relevant parties.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I would not be embarrassed about crying at work! That is a lot to take. It is good to get it out. Strong people cry a lot.

    Your coworker is astonishingly thick in this circumstance.

    How is your work-life balance going? The older I get, the more balance and self-love (I dislike this term, but you know what I mean) I need and take.

  • harmonica replied 6 years ago

    So sorry you have to deal with this. Sending hugs and agree with the wisdom of the other ladies. YLF! <3

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Omg you work with a bunch of jerks (actually I am thinking a different word but trying to remain family friendly here lol). Seriously this makes me really angry and they definitely should know better.

    In any case you definitely do not look pregnant in that sweater. It looks great!

  • Joy replied 6 years ago

    You look great and not pregnant, although the looseness of the sweater may suggest a pregnancy garment to some people. My DH thinks anything loose in front means a pregnancy even though that is no longer the style.
    Have you tried the South Beach Diet? It is designed for the reducing middle body and I think it works. ( it was designed to help heart patients) Cutting out all wine and other alcohol drinks is also very helpful.

  • Brooklyn replied 6 years ago

    You look fabulous in that sweater. 

    Think about reporting your colleague. If he is doing that to you he is probably also saying inappropriate stuff to junior staff who are not necessarily in a position to complain.

  • ClaraT replied 6 years ago

    I suspect that it is because you are otherwise slim that your belly gets mistaken for a baby--when someone is plump all over, the belly bit might not be as noticeable. And that is not to say it *is* noticeable, but those comments are the worst, so I'm just wracking my brain for an explanation. Plus you are in the right age group for having kids (still young!), plus sometimes people want to connect that way, plus sometimes people are insensitive! I love all of your outfits, always, and you don't look pregnant.

    Will a commiserating story make you feel any better? Several months after I had my oldest, I ran into a store and the clerk, who knew me by sight, said, "Haven't you had that baby yet?!" I burst into tears and left the store just as my husband came in, baby in tow... And I'd lost all the weight! But the belly! So: it's not only you, and it made me cry too...

  • Karie replied 6 years ago

    That coworker is just horrible. I am so sorry this happened to you. Some people are such jerks. I think the sweater looks good on you.

  • anne replied 6 years ago

    So sorry to hear about that insensitive co-worker. You look fab in the sweater!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Oh, sweet Natalie. My heart goes out to you. (((BIG HUGS))).

    I can't get my head around how insensitive these people are - AND THEY ARE DOCTORS. Good grief. The question, "are you pregnant? " should be banned. 99% of the time, it's simply inappropriate.

    Natalie, the pullover looks fabulous. You look and are fabulous. OF COURSE you would rather spend your spare 2 to 3 hours a day with your kids, than working out. Good heavens. I would too. Lucky kids and lucky you. These are the moments your kids will will wrap up in their hearts and minds forever. Priceless. 

    FWIW, A good friend of mine was in a similar situation after three children. She is a full time professional like you, extremely sensible, and actually did work out when her kids were asleep - and very diligently for three years. She also went on a strict eating plan. It didn't yield the results she was hoping for on her midsection, although she went down a few sizes and the rest of her body looked buffed and toned. She decided to have what she called a "Mummy Make-Over" in January. She had to take three weeks off work. She is very pleased she did it. 

    You know what is best for you, and I'm sure hubs is supportive no matter what. We are here to tell you how much you rock 24/7. Much love to you. 

  • Roxanna replied 6 years ago

    Having young kids myself, and often fluctuating between sizes, I know what that is like - and it sucks. Have you seen the Jennifer Garner clip on Ellen where she talks about the 'phantom fourth baby'? It helped a friend of mine accept her baby bump and not feel so self conscious about it. But I know it's hard when there are insensitive jerks in the world. Know that this is just a season in your life, and in this season, you are prioritizing spending time with your kids. If/when the time is right, you will prioritise your body if it still bothers you. But no need you stress about it until then!

  • Jenni NZ replied 6 years ago

    The trouble with plastic surgery in my view, as well as the risks which are substantial, is the never knowing where it would end if you add that to the mix. I've seen those photos of the old women in either Brazil or Argentina ( can't remember which) with the terrible faces from years of not accepting ageing. So even though I have the odd moment of distress about my ageing body and face, I prefer to keep cosmetic procedures out of the mix. I understand why others make different decisions. Because comparison has been psychologically problematic for me, on the whole my contentment has grown in recent years by sticking to this.

  • bridgie replied 6 years ago

    Sorry you work with such an ignorant person.  But, they are everywhere. I would like to be next in line behind kellygirl when she kicks him!  You look great and are a beautiful person inside and out.

  • Runcarla replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, your coworker is a dumba**, and too many folks are leaving their social filters at home these days.

    Slim arms, legs, a modest bust, short waist with a tummy - I got asked the same question fairly often between ages 20-45! My response was a shocked look, and a loud "I sure hope not!"

    My body did/does cool stuff, so I'm not going to disrespect it by hating parts of it, hurting it, or starving it. I do find a really good bra that gets the girls up front and center and creates waist definition helps with figure flattery, as do mid rise or highrise pants with a smooth zipper, or skirts with flat fronts, and tailored tops rather than knits.

    Pic - Botecelli's 'The Three Graces'

  • minimalist replied 6 years ago

    I love that sweater!

    Echoing what gradfashionista said. It's absolutely inappropriate, EVEN if you also thought this was funny and were playing along, to joke about this in the workplace. So many people are carrying very private pain of infertility, miscarriage, young children having died, or so many other issues along these lines. Even congratulating people who announce healthy pregnancies has pitfalls; I'm thinking of the childfree-by-choice co-worker who discovered she was five months pregnant, and of people who've lost previous children so experience new pregnancies as bittersweet. Also, what Isabel said. In the workplace, your body is nobody's business to comment on. "My body is none of your business" may sound abrupt, but it sets a boundary and doesn't cross a line of turning the intrusion back on the offender.

    Coworker A sounds like a liability for the employer.

    A good friend made the same choices you're making, in a comparable situation: she prioritized time with the kids. Frankly, and she was the first to say this, for a long time her belly truly looked five or six months pregnant, even though she wasn't exactly lacking mass in other areas. But she was a warm, caring mom, and a sought-after mentor, and kept surpassing milestones and securing additional funding for her lab. Around the time her youngest turned eight, a few things shifted, and she made some changes in her way of eating, then joined a boxing gym and started sessions with a personal trainer. Now she has visible abs, and if your coworker A asked her something rude she'd be able to knock him out cold. But she didn't rush any of this, and wouldn't be happier today if she'd had less time with her kids early on but been as fit as she is now.

  • Bijou replied 6 years ago

    Natalie you are gorgeous and you look beautiful in the outfit. Your sweater is oversized and is meant to be worn that way.

    I think this is a matter for HR too. Your prankster colleague needs to understand the impact of his actions. You should be proud that you cried, because that showed him how hurtful he has been. He should have apologised and been mortified by his callous actions. If he did not show remorse, then he is a bully and needs to be censured.

    As a working Mum (of only 1 child - so not Superwoman like you), it is hard to balance time with family, career and health. Everything in moderation is my mantra. You are healthy, that is the main thing. 

    Once you get into your 40's, people assume that you are over the having children stage and you won't get these comments. Hang in there.

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    Oh I just want to give that co-worker the death stare. You should not need to defend your decision to spend your precious free time with your kids rather than chasing after some ridiculous beach body ideal to anyone - most of all yourself! You look great, you are doing a fabulous job running your practice and your family and the last thing your patients or family need is for you to further stress yourself out by giving up sleep in order to work out. I don't know what your area of practice is, but there may be something about it or the medical setting that puts babies on people's minds - I am shocked people keep saying things to you. Regarding plastic surgery - something I have dreamed of since my huge last trimester with my twins - as you say the cause of the problem is the reason not to take the time, risk and/or expense. Alas.
    The sweater is great and so are you. 

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    I love this sweater. I love you in this sweater!

    Ok. I think you need to find your Spirit of Mean. Double up on the awkward. If someone asks you, you should say, ‘Thank You!’ Then say ‘Do you want to feel my tum?’ Or talk about boob swelling.

    Or just think about doing that. That would be hella funny. Maybe you’ll get presents...

  • unfrumped replied 6 years ago

    Oh good grief. That behavior is unbelievable.
    You look fabulous in the sweater- it’s a great pick.
    Since my babies I struggle with the weak lower ab muscles and belly pooch. A lot of regular exercises don’t really target that. I have had some success with some exercises I found as “ 5-Day Abs” ( not get fixed in five days, but a rotation of exercises that hit the different ab muscles) and core exercises like the Plank. I mention those because I can do them at home in just a few minutes and they’re low- stress.
    But yeah, my tummy is different now and there are many constraints on vigorous or explosive exercises such as ongoing muscle & joint probs so I have to plod along.
    I think those office people have lost their filters, manners, brains, really.

  • gryffin replied 6 years ago

    You are a beautiful, loving, kind person, mom, and professional. You look beautiful. I am so very sorry when you are not feeling good about you body someone was cruel. Our bodies perform miracles but there is a price. Your colleague is a jerk if he meant to deliberately hurt you. There is a special place on h*** for people who do that. He is the ugly one and while you go home to love he lives in envy and ugliness. I would file a complaint w HR. It's not ok to harass people and putting an ugly spot on his record is important. It's possible he grew up in a climate of harassment perhaps a convo w HR will be an awakening and he may change. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If not they are aware and will hopefully monitor and sanction further negative behavior.

    Golden pig, as another physician, I always marveled at the balance you strike between work, family and style. You are an inspiration. A beautiful, graceful person inside and out. Sending hugs, strength and wishes that you see all the beauty and goodness in yourself that the rest of us see!!

  • Momo replied 6 years ago

    I am so sorry Natalie. I can’t believe your coworker did that to you . Ugh.
    I have had those comments before too and I know how embarrassing and hurtful they are. I tried to spin it that at least they think I am young enough to be pregnant! But you are younger than me so that may not work for you ;)
    Hang in there. You are beautiful and accomplished and seem like a great mom.

  • krishnidoux replied 6 years ago

    It is so unfair that this happened to you. Especially about the colleague who tried to prank another innocent colleague through you: what an insensitive thing to do on the part of the first colleague, hurting two people with the same stone. You and coworker B should join forces and get back at this person (not too meanly of course, but enough to get the message across). 

    I am a (French) teacher to young adults/older adolescents and recently in one of my classes they called me on my belly. I was wearing a hip-hugging  high-low skirt from Marciano I love. Students had to construct sentences and one team came up with "What if Madame were pregnant and not telling us...?". I tried to laugh it off and take it as a compliment, since at 49 I am rapidly moving away from the child bearing years, but deep down I was quite disturbed. In my office I have a thin mirror in which I caught a glimpse of what might have prompted them to imagine I was pregnant. That skirt came off as soon as I got home home, while I declared to my husband I wouldn't wear it anymore, and, also, was quiting wine.

    If one small comment sent me there, I can't imagine what it must be like for you. I don't understand these people because you are tiny and so sweet, and always dress with such taste. Have you thought that some people might feel insecure because of your beauty, and respond in a way to make you feel in turn insecure as well (humans, sometimes...)? Some people might also be jealous because you are blessed with a wonderful family and practice and get to help others, and are beautiful too. Hugs to you. You are so strong. I'm sure you do so much good around you and one proof is the radiant smiles of your children in the pics with them. 

    And BTW this sweater does NOT make you look pregnant, it just makes you look stylish and cool. I love the purse you chose too! So bad-ass! I am inspired and might copy you.
    xoxo hugs

  • RobinF replied 6 years ago

    I love this outfit on you. It looks stylish and cute, not pregnant at all.

    That co-worker is a jerk, unbelievable that he thinks that is an appropriate way to act. Embarrassing for you and I assume also for the person who "congratulated" you, while he laughs? Simply outrageous. That is a bully through and through.

    As a working mom of three kids older than yours (26, 24 and 21), you are totally smart to focus on them right now. All too soon they will be moving on and making their own lives and this phase will be over. Our time with them as children is so short and goes so fast. 

    I can relate to body issues, I think many of us here can. Hang in there! 

  • Glory replied 6 years ago

    It is so bold an intrusive and I am sorry you have to deal with this.
    You look absolutely gorgeous in my opinion. 

  • Gail replied 6 years ago

    I am so sorry that you are experiencing this rude and obnoxious  behavior.  Quite frankly you look awesome in the sweater and certainly not pregnant. 

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, I didn’t even read the comments, but I just want to say I’m sorry that your coworker makes such ignorant and thoughtless comments and jokes. People can be awful. :-(

    I don’t see pregnant or big or anything like that looking at your photos. I see a beautiful, busy, dedicated mom in a fab outfit. The sweater is way cool.

  • goldenpig replied 6 years ago

    Thank you all so much for your kind words and support. It means so much to me and makes me feel so much better! To clarify, none of the other doctors I work with was involved. We doctors are considered the heads of our organization (ie I don't have a boss) because the revenue we generate pays the salary of all the staff. Coworker A is a midlevel employee. He is the only one I am angry with. All the other staff are super nice. Coworker B is a junior staff and was tricked into congratulating me on being pregnant--he did not do it maliciously and was totally contrite, so I am not angry with him. Though I did sit him down and educate him that you never ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless she tells you herself or is in the process of giving birth! Coworker A lacks a filter and has a habit of making inappropriate jokes and playing practical jokes on the staff. I was fine until he started blaming Coworker B in front of Coworker C (another junior staffer) for what Coworker B said to me. That's when I angrily told him to stop and started crying. He looked startled and said "Sorry!" and beat a hasty retreat. He never said anything to me afterward or all day yesterday, so at the end of the day I confronted him in the break room and told him that what he did was insensitive and hurt my feelings and that he needs to stop and think before he speaks and if he's not saying something nice, don't say it. I can't believe he doesn't know this, but he has the brain of a 12 year old boy. He was defensive and said he was sorry and didn't think I would be offended and that it was just a practical joke on Coworker B, not me. I told him he needs to act professionally at work. He said, "Look, I've already apologized to you twice, once yesterday and once today and I'm not going to keep apologizing." Yeah, barely apologized, but only because I confronted you! I ended up talking to my office manager who is coworker A's immediate boss (unfortunately he's the one who also asked if I was pregnant a few months ago, but he wasn't trying to be mean) and the office manager said he would talk to this person and said he has been talked to several times about this. I told him about other inappropriate things Coworker A has said to other doctors and even patients. Also, now that I think about it, every other staff member calls me Dr. Lastname, except Coworker A who calls me by my first name (I think maybe he tends to see himself as the equal of the other doctors, even though he is not a doctor). Another midlevel employee who is the same position as Coworker A always calls me Dr. I think I am going to insist that he call me Dr. from now on. I don't care if he thinks it's petty, I deserve respect! I think I have been extra sensitive about this because of all the harassment cases being brought to light in the news (not to mention the attitude toward women displayed by even the top officials in the country), even though this is not a sexual harassment issue (and is not a HIPAA violation either, I am not a patient). Anyways, I have done what I could and I think I am happy to move on from this. I am not going to let him bully me using the excuse of trying to be funny (though I do think he wasn't intentionally trying to bully me, he just has no insight or social graces). And I will keep the sweater! Thanks to all of you for your wisdom and warmth!

  • AviaMariah replied 6 years ago

    WHAT?  Well that co-worker is just a clod!  You look great and in no way pregnant (and who cares if you did?).  I'm in the same boat as you except 2 kids and a full time profession and you know what?  We just can't do it all.  I have to keep telling myself that.  But you know what your priorities are and who cares about anyone else!  Plus, like Angie's friend, you could be working out everyday and still have that "problem".  

  • JAileen replied 6 years ago

    You definitely should insist that he calls you by your title. When impertinent people used to ask me my name I would say, "My name is Firstname, but you can call me Mrs. Lastname." I would say this without a smile.

    IMO, if he does something like this again, he should be fired. You should make a note in his personnel file.

  • sylvie55 replied 6 years ago

    Unbelievable! Your co-worker is a sexist jackass with a vision impairment. Heck yes he needs to call you by the title you worked so hard to earn. 

  • Scarlet replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, I am so sorry. This really makes me mad. The immaturity and lack of sensitivity is just mind-boggling. I think your outfit looks fab, and if it's any consolation I often think of you for inspiration with your awesome style. To be honest, obviously I am not the expert, but my feeling in observing my own body is that due to hormonal changes I now put fat on my tummy whereas before I did not. My suspicion is that exercise and diet would only go so far unless I were an extreme/professional athlete with no body fat at all. You are doing everything right and your style is fabulous. I think nearly every mother has a tummy, at least more so than before, and I also suspect that with menopause one develops more of a tummy as well. I think it's normal.

  • 3style replied 6 years ago

    You look fab :)

    Mr A is destructive to your organization.

    If you take Mr. A at his word, that he was only trying to play a joke on coworker B., it still tells me that he has no interest in furthering career growth opportunities for Mr. B. Instead he's trying to secure his own position and make Mr B so miserable that he leaves.
    By tolerance for bullies, you may lose less aggressive more competent junior folks. It would be be great for your organization if all of upper management (all of the doctors he works for) held a meeting where they called him in alone and him that he needs to be a team player or find himself another job. What he did was disruptive to everyone and could easily compromise patient care. What if you or the other person who was the target of the bullying were too upset to prescribe the right dose for your next patient? There's so much you cannot control in a medical office that no one should be purposefully adding more chaos.

    I saw a medical receptionist wearing normal clothing and a headband with furry ears on Halloween. I was not at a pediatric practice. That's the kind of silliness which improves patient experience by giving them a humorous surprise.

  • Elle replied 6 years ago

    Congratulations on calling him out directly.  I would ask the office manager to start documenting Coworker A's "pranks" with a view to terminating his employment because it sounds like he is disruptive to the entire organization.  

    On another, more frivolous note, I'm seriously thinking about copyng your sweater, although I wonder if I could carry it off as well.   I love the conservative color combined with the drama of the drape.

  • Aquamarine replied 6 years ago

    Sigh....I guess every office/work environment has its share of jerks. It just never goes away. I’m sorry you had to deal with this jerk and that he hurt you. You look fab in that sweater. My baby is almost 21 and it took me 10 years to lose the weight and the tummy is still hanging around. But you know what? Those years went by so fast and I don’t regret one moment spent with my children. You’ll get some “me” time eventually. You rock, Natalie.

  • binkle replied 6 years ago

    I'm sorry you have to deal with a coworker (subordinate!!!) like this. And good on you for speaking directly to the point with A (who sounds like a classless coward).

    If you are interested, there is a good blog, Ask A Manager. She is great with scripts for dealing with problem employees.

    Though be forewarned that the comments from readers can veer off in wild tangents and speculation, so tread carefully if you go beyond her own advice.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 6 years ago

    Why do women so often respond as if there were something wrong with us or it’s our fault when we are harassed? This needs to be reported to HR; he is probably doing this kind of thing to a lot of people. HR needs might not want to get involved after one small incident, but if they have a series of reports on one person, eventually they can have a real case.

    I think you read him absolutely correctly and are right to insist he use your appropriate title in speaking to or about you, always. This kind of “joke” is all about power, wanting to increase his by making other people feel bad. If he does it to you, how does he treat patients and their families?

    You might be right that his development is stuck at a 12 year old’s level. Most people eventually develop beyond that point. Does he need some kind of assistance growing up?

    You’re beautiful and you look great in that sweater. You know you are healthy and are making the right choice about time with your little ones during these precious years. Parents’ empathy and love literally help their brains to grow and develop. Isn’t it awesome how they are so curious and love babies and life?

  • Column replied 6 years ago

    You did the right thing by confronting him. He is a bully--and a stupid one. How do you bully your boss? He should fear for his job. Perhaps you should document his attacks on not only you, but patients and other co-workers. Keep a running list; there's always a last straw....

  • Mary Beth (formerly LBD) replied 6 years ago

    I am so angry on your behalf, that someone would behave in this manner.   I want to put on my steel-toed boots and go give that person a swift kick where the sun don't shine.   I don't even own steel-toed boots, but I would go buy a pair right now, if it meant I could take a crack (pun intended) at this person.

    You should definitely report this.   Absolutely get HR involved.   What your co-worker did was harrassment and bullying.   Not just to you, but to the co-worker he/she set up to come congratulate you.   This person has created a hostile environment for you.   NOT COOL.

    I feel like this is so important.   People think they have free reign to harrass women on their looks - men and women both do this.    This is so ingrained in our society and it is NOT COOL.   Every time someone (male or female) critiques a woman's looks, they are critiquing all of us;  re-establishing that there is this almost impossible standard, that most of us can't possibly meet, because it is a construct.  

    Stamp hard on that snake.   Talk to HR.

    You are beautiful, and NO, that sweater does not make you look pregnant.   I think, though, that you should pass it along, because I think it's going to hold memories of feeling unhappy and uncertain.

    I found two things really flattened out my stomach:   1)  I did Whole30 last year.  Not going to lie, Whole30 is extremely time-consuming, both for shopping, and food prep/cooking.   So let me break down what I learned about myself, from Whole30:   flour, legumes, and dairy all give me a poochy belly.   I've had other friends report the same, so I think maybe this is common to a larger portion of the population.

    I still have flour in my diet, but when I see my belly start to ploop out, I cut out the flour again.   It's sneaky and creeps back in.   (Actually, it isn't sneaky, I seek it out in breads and wraps).   In place of flour, I eat sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes, Korean sweet potatoes, salads, fruits, berries, raw veggies, and meat.   Coffee with coconut milk, and I still eat dark chocolate.

    2)  The other thing that flattened me out, are two 30-day challenges that I've been doing every day since June.   At the start of the month, I start it over.   It takes me maybe 15 minutes a day, because I take breaks.   You can modify the planks to accomodate your strength.

    My point is... you don't need to give up time with your kids, or kill yourself trying to achieve some imaginary 'standard'.   Give yourself 15 minutes a day.   And/or take your kids outside, and play with them.

    So much love to you, Natalie, you ALWAYS look fabulous, and I always have considered you to be one of the stylish cornerstones of this community!

    <3 <3 <3 



  • harmonica replied 6 years ago

    I'm so glad you found the strengt to do the right thing. You're intelligent, beautiful, caring and have your priorities right. I know too well how kids, family life and full time job puts you in a crazy place. Be kind to yourself, breath and focus on your priorities. Suddenly your babies are all grown. And keep in mind that tiny, tiny baby steps goes a long way. (My eight year old literally embraces my tummy every day and says he loves it because it is so soft and cushiony. I think his perspective is both adorable and quite healthy.) 

  • kwood replied 6 years ago

    This sweater is massively cool...where did you get it?  

    I don't think you look like you have a baby bump at all, I think people associate loose styles with pregnancy, because if you're not pregnant, people expect you to wear form fitting sexy stuff. *shakes fist at the patriarchy*  

    Seriously though, you look awesome in this outfit.

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Kwood, you’re right about that.

  • karen13 replied 6 years ago

    I just saw your post and think your outfit looks great, and not remotely pregnant! I share the collective horror at your co-worker's treatment of you, and probably others. I understand how upsetting it is to cry at work and I am so proud that you stood up to him so directly and professionally. 

    I hope he has learned something, but it sounds like that might not happen. As it sounds like a pattern of behavior, all you can do is not tolerate it and report it when it happens. Hugs!!

    (When I was younger I have gotten the "are you expecting?" question and completely agree that it is never appropriate.)

  • Laurie replied 6 years ago

    Does Coworker A do anything so special he can't be replaced immediately?   This is certainly not his first offense, he isn't going to change.  You don't need the stress of dealing with someone and something like this in your life.

    I just want to say that you are so healthy - your reaction was completely normal and your resistance to do unnatural things is excellent.  I fear I would have been down a far less sensible path already in this circumstance.

    You are beyond fabulous.   We all know it, you know it.  Get rid of A, ASAP!

  • minimalist replied 6 years ago

    What Elle said. As well, could you and other doctors log what A has said so far, with contexts and dates as well as you can remember, and then ongoing?

  • Staysfit replied 6 years ago

    Dear wonderful Dr. N,

    I don’t have time to read through everyone’s responses because I have been trying to play catch up after taking my second 10 year cycle MOC exam last week. As a physician, my perspective may be different than some of the others you have received.

    First, under no circumstances is it okay for someone to make a joke at your expense, especially if it is one that is demeaning, degrading, or alludes to anything about your person that makes you feel discomfort. Comments that are sexual or that make reference to your body, or allude to your being “less than” because of your gender or role orientation, or that evoke shame for any of these reasons are called “sexual harassment”.

    I had hoped female physicians would experience less sexual harassment now compared with 2.5 decades ago when I was in my residency. Clearly, there is still much room for improvement. I could share many awful stories of how I was treated in the past. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen anymore.

    I have a way to think about the type of “joking” done by your male co-worker. He belongs among the characters who experience shame and insecurity......
    Here is a bit of my thought process, FWIW: You are wonderwoman, or whatever other super hero you would like. As a superhero, you are mother to your lovely children, spouse to another working physician (if I am remembering this correctly) and working in a surgical subspecialty. You do it all, and you do it well, plus you have an amazing wardrobe with the best shoes and bags I’ve seen! You are confident and competent. (Even if you don’t always feel these things, you must feel them often enough to be where you are, so I bet it’s true.). There is no one more intimidating to an INSECURE man than a competent female who is successful in the roles of parent, profession and personal relationship. No man can accomplish this in quite the same way, because, men cannot get pregnant. What if you show him up and are a better doctor than him? So, it really is the most insecure who become the most obnoxious with their harassment. This may be the only way they can tolerate being in the presence of someone who they worry may outshine them. Dr. N, you are a burning bright sunbeam! :-)

    All people in a high stakes medical workplace get concerned if the professional they rely on for care or coverage is either ill or pregnant. I understand this all too well. All medical practices benefit from clear coverage plans for when something like this takes place so the rest of the practitioners are not left feeling anxious about what to do or feeling resentful about extra work. Sometimes obnoxious joking can come from anxiety over this sort of worry. In my fellowship two of six of us were pregnant at the same time leaving four to cover what normally would have been done by six. (I was one of the pregnant women).

    Hopefully other people have addressed the issue of what to do when this situation happens with caring and curious people. It’s a completely different line of thought!

    Regarding time for exercise and priorities. Everyone has different values and ideas of how thei life should work. There are limited hours in the day. I started to exercise every morning with my dad when I was a young child. It’s a habit that I continue regardless of my circumstances. The same has been true for my brother. (We are both physicians, his wife is also an MD, my DH is not). I know that most people do not share this family habit. We both chose athletic spouses (my DH was on the Crew team, and SIL, rides horses). Our savior has been carefully selected hired help. I have had times when someone has chopped and prepped the veggies I need for meals, transported children to various activities, and entertained them or gone over homework while I was exercising. The time savings from our household helpers, allowed us to do some things that maintained our sanity.

    Finally, KEEP the sweaters! :-)

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    So late to this - pleased you have a plan of attack and are feeling better.  You look great and keep on rocking on!!

  • Helen11 replied 6 years ago

    Gosh, Natalie, I've been away form YLF for ages. You're always so stylish,I'm sorry that an insensitive person made you feel bad about how you look.  
    You have so much support from all the other comments here, I just wanted to say keep on going - you are fab!

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