Love’s Labour a Liability? | Teeny Manolo

Love’s Labour a Liability?

By raincoaster

Aunt FattieNow, regular readers will know several things about this blog. They’ll know about Listmania. They’ll know about the Friday Caption Contest. They’ll know, if they’ve got the right hormones, about the Celebrity Dad Face-Off.

And they will also know that if you’re looking for practical parenting advice, you go to Glinda. If you’re looking for attitude with or without a side of tentacles, you come to me.

But today Glinda has her hands full making fun of neurasthenic Desperate Housewives, so we must look elsewhere in the blogosphere for a good, stiff dose of sense. Where do we find it?Mary Martini

Ask Aunt Fattie! Seriously, this may be my second favorite advice column, right after Ask Sister Mary Martha (She had me at “Home Depot.” The only way to make Home Depot more awesome is to add nuns). The question o’ the day is, how to look for a job when you’re quite obviously pregnant, even if you’re not actually pregnant. A fraught question indeed. Let’s see what she’s got to say:

Dear Aunt Fatty,

I’m a college senior, about to enter the big wide job market, and I’m looking for some advice on how to handle my Ultra Super Special Body Shape.

You see, I look like I’m about 5-6 months pregnant, despite a complete and total lack of fetuses in my stomach…


Dear Imaginary Fetus,

Aunt Fattie’s first suggestion would be a T-shirt reading “No, I’m Not Pregnant.”

Her first serious suggestion would be “no empire waists.”

In truth, this is a poser. It is reprehensible but undeniable that firms and companies are reluctant to hire pregnant women because they don’t want to immediately pay for an extended leave of absence. Due to both social and legal restrictions, you can’t solve this with words — they can’t ask, and it’s awkward to answer unbidden. And so, you must solve it with clothes…

Finally, please remember: the “problem” in this case is not your belly, but widespread discriminatory hiring practices. Unfortunately, changing the latter is a huge project, and you shouldn’t have to go unemployed while it’s being undertaken. But even though Aunt Fattie’s advice involves hiding your belly, your belly is NOT the problem here.

And so it goes, with practical advice, witty phrasing, and motivational delivery, and with many amusing and several actually very useful suggestions in the comments. Did you know what happens to your ladyparts when you wear a spandex bodysquasher when you’re actually pregnant?


Note that the recommended outfits would not include this:

Maternity dress from HELL

9 Responses to “Love’s Labour a Liability?”

  1. class-factotum Says:

    ” It is reprehensible but undeniable that firms and companies are reluctant to hire pregnant women because they don’t want to immediately pay for an extended leave of absence”

    Why is this reprehensible? If I own a business and am paying someone to do a job, I need that person (I can’t even say “that woman” anymore, because of the pregnant used-to-be a woman but really still is who is pg) to be at work, not on maternity leave. I would never hire someone who was obviously pregnant. I’m in business to make money, not lose it.

  2. raincoaster Says:

    It is reprehensible because it is bad for society as a whole. Some women do go on extended maternity leaves, some frankly can’t wait to get back to work.

    It’s bad because it encourages you to pre-judge, and eliminate, people who could make meaningful contributions to the growth of your business long-term, on the basis of appearance and speculation.

    It’s a small step from “she’s not going to work much because she’s pregnant” to “she’s not going to be dependable because she’s got kids” to “she’s not going to be reliable because she’s Polish” or whatever.

    Studies have shown that corporations (and, even moreso, small businesses) that create a supportive atmosphere for pregnant workers have much lower attrition rates than standard for each industry, and tend, to have more growth, over a given five-year period. That looks like a good investment to me.

  3. raincoaster Says:

    I, use, too, many, commas.

  4. class-factotum Says:

    Perhaps, but I worked in a small office (five women) where two of them were on maternity leave at the same time. They were still paid their full salaries, which meant we had no money to hire temps. Their work didn’t go away, so it fell to the rest of us to pick up the slack. Even while they were there, they weren’t pulling their weight. One of them wouldn’t walk down the stairs to answer the door (somewhat understandable), but she also wouldn’t answer the phone, which did not require stairs and was inexcusable.

    Many of my friends (professional) quit their jobs once they had their second baby. They quit because it became too much of a problem to find reliable day care — because kids get sick — because they could not do their jobs and raise their kids at the same time. (Women who are not married to men who can support them do not have this luxury.)

    What this meant to their employers was that someone who had taken a lot of training and was an essential part of the team was now gone and would have to be replaced. If you’re a manager, do you want to have to find and hire people, then train them, only to see them leave in a few years? Or would you rather hire someone who will have fewer reasons to leave (ie, a man, an older woman, someone who is not at peak fertility and married to someone who can support her)?

    It’s practicality — what is the easier option?

  5. raincoaster Says:

    That’s a brutal situation and no mistake, class-factotum, but the problem was, you were working with lazy, self-interested losers, not that you were working with pregnant women. A good hiring process should have screened them out.

    As a dedicated Socialist, I support universal daycare for working women which is, of course, a whole ‘nother controversy.

    But you must also look at it from the other side, particularly when the labour market is tight. Can a company afford to write off the majority of the labour pool? Women of childbearing age in the labour market are a larger group than men of similar age or people of either gender outside of that age bracket.

  6. class-factotum Says:

    Raincoaster, you are absolutely right — I was working with lazy women! (I was at a non-profit where everyone got paid whether the business made money or not, so the wrong incentives were in place.)

    And yes, if there is a tight labor market, you wouldn’t want to overlook any qualified candidate. But all other things being equal, if I could choose between a pregnant woman and another candidate, I would pick the other candidate, just so my business would run more smoothly, just as I would pick the person who was not going to need three months off starting next month for surgery or any other reason. It’s not prejudice against pregnancy, it’s prejudice against someone who is not going to be at work for 12 weeks!

  7. class-factotum Says:

    PS I absolutely agree about a tight labor pool. My former employer was always bemoaning the loss of young professional women after five or ten years when they would have babies. I suggested that they create part-time professional positions — the women still wanted to work, just not 70 hours a week, and the company wanted the benefit of their experience. I don’t want this to be legislated, but business could gain a competitive edge by taking advantage of this situation instead of whining about it. But they wouldn’t — what about office space? they asked. What about benefits?

    Good grief. It’s not that complicated.

  8. raincoaster Says:

    Job sharing could solve many ills in our society. What’s strange is that where it’s not wanted (at the lower end of the job market, where 30-40 hours minimum is needed just to put a roof over your head) it’s most common. After seven years at Starbucks I’m quite familiar with the barista/waiter/handyman archetype. Why is it that office jobs don’t offer 20-hour a week chunks to a labour pool? Then you get permatemps, like Microsoft has, which wouldn’t bother me if only they had benefits and wage parity.

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