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Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor strongly believes that you should never ask a woman if they’re pregnant.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time the singer, who has five boys of her own, says being pregnant is private business. Recalling a time last year when someone asked her the very same question, she said it’s “really not OK.”
“Last year, when I did a video for Crying At The Discotheque, I won't name him, but a guy that I work with saw some of the footage, and he phoned me up and he said, ‘I just wondered if you have big news?’” she recalled to podcast host Kate Thornton.
“And I was like, ‘Are you asking me if I'm pregnant?’ He said, ‘Yes’. Afterwards, I was so angry. I was like, if I wore a sequin catsuit and for whatever reason, I don't tell you I'm pregnant, either, because I'm not, I am and I'm not ready to say or I have been recently, and I don't want to talk about it, then don't bloody ask me!”
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“I think that's really not okay, because I think there's some things that are very private”
The singer, who entertained the nation during lockdown with her live kitchen discos, said the comment made her so angry that she immediately emailed the work colleague back, copying her mum, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis and husband, songwriter and guitarist Richard Jones, into the email.
“I put them on blind copy, because I thought they'd get a kick out of how brilliantly articulate I was,” she told Thornton.
“But then he replied, saying, ‘I'm so sorry’. And when he replied, he copied my mum and Richard in and I realised I didn't put them on blind copy! I went from feeling really empowered to a right dingbat.”
Despite the huge faux pas, Ellis-Bextor says we all need to be bit more mindful of asking the pregnancy question, particularly as many women struggle to start a family.
“Family life, in that way, is still something we discuss in a very light-hearted way, like the weather,” she said.
“There's lots about that I totally get and it's totally understandable. But yes, I think when it comes to some questions that get asked... Especially now we're much more aware and much more open about the fact that — actually — for a lot of people having a family, in the way you want, doesn't necessarily come as easy as you hope.
"I think it's a shame that still something that can be sort of casually talked about and actually be really harmful for people.”
Ellis-Bextor believes most women will have been asked the question at some point, and it’s certainly not the first time it’s happened to her.
She detailed one example on her Instagram account after a night out with her husband, when someone asked her if she was expecting. Talking about the incident, she said she can deal with the odd social mistake like that.
“I suppose I've never had a flat stomach,” she exclaimed.
“Obviously, it's never great if someone thinks you're expecting a child when you're not, but I I've just kind of thought, I'm a woman and that’s a shape that we tend to gravitate towards anyway, and it's fine. Just be OK with that.”
One thing Ellis-Bextor is glad that has changed when it comes to pregnancy is that women — especially those have children when they’re not married — are not judged as harshly as her mum, Janet Ellis, was thirty odd years ago.
“When my mum got pregnant with my brother, she then wasn't on Blue Peter anymore,” she told Thornton.
“It was still quite controversial to have a child out of wedlock. To be pregnant was still private. I mean, now we're much more used to all that but really, I think there's still been a big shift in women being able to have that conversation about how it works for them best and you know, it's still not a level playing field with working world.”
While Ellis-Bextor hasn’t dealt with any such biases juggling her successful career with having a family, she says she’s got mum to thank for her gung-ho attitude to life.
“It’s something I probably inherited really that however the cards fall, you kind of have to make it part of what's actually quite positive for you,” she told Thornton.
She continued: “Otherwise you just spend your time feeling angry or resentful or whatever!”
Buy now: Songs From The Kitchen Disco: Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Greatest Hits | £10.99 from Amazon
Pre-order now: Spinning Plates: Thoughts on Men, Music and Motherhood | £16.99 from Amazon
WATCH: Why Sophie Ellis-Bextor hates being asked, "Are you pregnant?"