ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Jaclene Paolucci tweets a lot about U.S. politics, women's rights and occasionally about her own life. One of those tweets about her own life went viral last week - about 80,000 retweets so far. And she joins us now to explain what got everybody so animated.
JACLENE PAOLUCCI: Hi, Ari. Thank you so much for having me.
SHAPIRO: Well, first, let me just say congratulations on your pregnancy. I understand you're due in just a few months.
PAOLUCCI: Yes, thank you. December 2 - a baby boy.
SHAPIRO: All right. And your pregnancy is central to this story. This was a tweet where you described an exchange with a stranger at Starbucks. Just tell us in your own words what happened.
PAOLUCCI: So when I was in Starbucks, I ordered my regular latte, which is doctor-approved. And a stranger who was right ahead of me looked at me with judgment in her eyes and told me that it would be better if I drink decaf. And it was - like, I could tell it wasn't just coming from a place of, like, caring. It really - I really felt like I was being judged, as if I wasn't the best for my body and for my baby.
SHAPIRO: And your response to the stranger was...
PAOLUCCI: I'm not pregnant.
PAOLUCCI: She immediately got so flustered. Oh, my goodness. I'm so sorry. She apologized, you know, profusely. You know, when I left there holding my latte, I kind of like had a little like, you know, smirk to myself. I was like, ha-ha, that was funny. So I shared it out to, you know, my 900 followers, thought some other people would enjoy it. And then what ensued was way more than I bargained for. I think within maybe a half hour, it was liked by like 50,000 people.
SHAPIRO: Why? Why do you think it struck such a chord?
PAOLUCCI: Well, it really started this entire conversation about why, when it comes to pregnancy, society feels like it's OK to just insert their opinions and advice. And often the advice feels a lot like criticism and judgment.
PAOLUCCI: Even to perfect strangers. And, you know, it's things that we wouldn't normally think is socially acceptable to ask or tell people. It obviously hit a big nerve, and interestingly enough, with women all over the world. One of the coolest things to see was it being shared in different languages. You know, I saw people commenting on it in Italian and Portuguese and Dutch. And it was just so wild to know it was hitting all of these different countries and that all of these women around the world...
SHAPIRO: Where women all felt the same way, yeah.
PAOLUCCI: Yes, felt the exact same way. And they all kind of came together and started to share their own stories. Something that I just thought of as funny opened up like a Pandora's box.
SHAPIRO: So many women shared their stories in response to your initial tweet. Will you just tell us one that specifically stands out in your mind?
PAOLUCCI: Oh, my favorite was from - her name is Tara Chettiar (ph), M.D....
SHAPIRO: MD - relevant.
PAOLUCCI: ...(Laugher) Shared - I had someone say that to me while I was in the hospital working wearing a white coat that said OBGYN.
PAOLUCCI: I mean, is that not so perfect?
SHAPIRO: And it's not only men saying things like this to pregnant women.
PAOLUCCI: No. Actually, interestingly enough, so there were many people that actually assumed that it was a man. But from my perspective, most of this advice and criticism and whatnot comes from other women. I think maybe men don't like to butt in on things like that, but women maybe feel like it's a communal experience, almost like - and then your communal body is no longer your body. It's like society's body.
SHAPIRO: One of my colleagues who is a mother said, if she thinks it's bad during pregnancy, wait till she's out in public with a baby.
PAOLUCCI: Yes. Oh, that was a response that was over and over again. One of my friends just said, just wait till your kid is crying in the supermarket.
SHAPIRO: Jaclene Paolucci, thank you for sharing your story with us.
PAOLUCCI: Thank you so much for having me, Ari. I've enjoyed it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.