When I first moved to New York City, it was around the time of the Clinton and Monica Lewisnsky scandal.  I had short, dark layered hair and was considerably… voluptuous.

I noticed that at certain restaurants, such as Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse. (Yes, I frequented them, for a taste of home…you have too, so don’t judge me) I would often be treated extremely kindly by the waitstaff.  Then the check would come, and I’d pull out my credit card, and the waitress would say:

“Oh wow!  I have to admit I thought you were Monica Lewinsky!  Well, we’re gonna comp that dessert for you.”  The waitress nervously went on about how pretty Monica was. Yes, I gave her a nice tip.

Being mistaken for the woman who had illicit relations with the president at the time came with mixed feelings.  Monica wasn’t a bad looking girl, we were both on the heavier side.  Honestly, if Bill Clinton propositioned me, I’d say yes. I can’t really say that I blame her. But I didn’t love being mistaken for her.

So I dyed my hair blonde. Shortly after, I was mistaken for Kelly Clarkson at Outback Steakhouse. The perks: I got a free bloomin’ onion, but the disappointment that I was not the American Idol star, was apparent all over the waitstaffs’ faces. I had received amazing service that day, by at least four different waiters. Yes, it was odd, but I felt special. My regret, I should’ve paid cash, maybe they would have never known. Then no one would’ve gotten hurt.

It’s not that these statements made me want to change my appearance and lose some weight. It was when the subway seat offerings started coming my way.  I knew it wasn’t because anyone thought I was a star.  It was because they thought I was pregnant.  At first I was angry at these requests.  How dare someone offer think I was fat and pregnant?!  Once a woman kept offering and offering her seat to me during rush hour.  The train was packed, I politely declined.  She persisted.  I lost it and said, “I’m not pregnant I’m just fat!”.  The poor woman turned red and just stared into Us Weekly, while people applauded my bitchiness.  Looking back, I feel awful because she was making a genuine kind gesture.

Now that we’re well out of the Clinton era, I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and I do not get mistaken for anyone.  However, there are those times when I choose to wear big baggy clothes and I will be offered a seat on the train.  When this happens, I take it.  If you’re going to assume that someone is pregnant, I will feel better about taking your seat.

I had a semi-traumatic moment in Walgreens today where I thought I was having a heart to heart with a woman about Reese’s peanut butter cups.  I went on and on about how much I liked them.  I do realize that may have sounded odd, but I didn’t care.

“Well, you can eat those, you know, because you’re having a baby.”

She pointed down to my stomach, I was wearing my North Face puff coat.

“Oh, no, I’m just wearing layers, see.”  I proceeded to unzip my coat, then just stopped because I’m sure she felt embarrassed.  I tried to leave the conversation, but she wouldn’t stop talking about her love for Almond Joys.  I wasn’t offended, because I do not look pregnant for the most part.

Randi Newton

See, by touching my stomach it looks like I’m with child. This coat will definitely score you a seat on a crowded train or bus.

The real point of this article?  I don’t know about you, but I was raised to NEVER ask someone if they were pregnant, not even if they looked like they were getting ready to go into labor at any moment.

Why?  Because you never know the situation someone is in.

Maybe they are pregnant and their husband left them, and the pregnancy is painful for them to talk about.  Maybe they just gave birth and are having issues with that baby weight coming off.  Maybe they did give birth, and there were complications and the baby passed away.  There are plenty of things one needs to consider before they immediately ask that seemingly innocent question of whether or not someone is with child.

Here are some more that you may never even had considered.

Fibroids: This condition can make a woman look pregnant.

Mysterious Bowel Conditions: This woman has looked pregnant for fifteen years.

Eating can make some people look pregnant?!:  In some cases yes.  The phrase “food baby”, in some cases is literally food, not a baby.

Giving up Seat Etiquitte:

When in doubt about offering your seat up to someone on the train?  I just simply get up and say to the woman in question.  “I’m getting off on the next stop if you wanna sit.”  That way if there’s any accusation of “Do you think I’m pregnant/fat?”, you can simply just respond with, “Oh, excuse me, I was just trying to offer you a seat.  You’re welcome.”

The other day when I was wearing my puff coat, a man simply said, “Want to sit down?” I said yes.  This works better when a gentleman offers, because you just think he’s being polite.

My thoughts are that, if you’re a pregnant woman and you really want to sit down.  I see no problem with politely asking for a seat on the train or bus.

If you WANT people to think that you are pregnant, simply hold your hand over your tummy and pretend like you’re caressing the pretend baby in your stomach.  That’s a guarantee to get you a spot!

I’ve also used this trick in getting a cab if there is a lot of traffic.  I stick my stomach out as far as I can and rub it.  Bingo.  There you go.

Empire waists and big long flowy tops also help succeed in getting that maternity look, if you’re aiming to snag a seat in warmer weather.  For now, I’m making sure that I empty my coat pockets out, and perhaps I’ll start wearing more form fitting clothing out in public.  Then again, there’s nothing like a seat on crowded train or bus.  Or maybe I’ll just walk, or take a cab.

Randi Newton can be found on twitter @worldofrandi and her blog www.worldofrandi.com