By ALISSA WARREN
Yesterday, former Miss Australia, Rachael Finch posted a very pregnant nearly-nude selfie. In her undies. In her bedroom. And it’s really got me and my own bump in a bother. You see, we’re due around the same time, Rachael and I, and I’d say this is where our similarities end:
But already, I know too much. I’ve had visual information overload and I’m frowning.
I don’t mind a selfie.
I’ve never selfied myself. But I certainly don’t mind looking at other people‘s selfies. It’s the perfect way to show, well, um, yourself. Hair. Shoes. Make Up. Kids. Drinking milkshakes. Cuddling puppies. Whatever. Go for it.
But for the first time in my selfie-viewing history, I’m feeling a bit cranky. A bit depressed. A bit anxious. A bit disappointed. Rachael Finch in her undies has made me feel like this and I’m trying to work out why.
Help me unpack this, will you?
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Sure, there’s no denying there are hundreds of unbeautiful pregnancy experiences – like today, I’m chewing on Mylanta (for heartburn) like it’s my job – but overall, the bad bits are stored away in your memory bank with things like jetlag. A bit sucky but not worth arking up over.
Because ultimately, pregnancy is about love. It’s about sharing an overwhelmingly incredible experience with the people you love the most. It’s about sharing the news, the updates, the scans, the fears, the kicks, the hiccups and the joys.
And perhaps that’s why this photo has me feeling confused. Because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love here. Real love. Not for the bump anyway.
Not to say that Rachel Finch doesn’t love her bump – I wouldn’t dream of implying that. But looking at a posey picture of a pregnant model in her underwear feels less about an expression of love and excitement and uncomfortably like a cry for external validation of hotness.
So what? Good question. I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is that’s bothering me about it. Is it the undies? The boasting? The pretence of asking for ‘tips for the birth’ when it’s actually just a desire to show the world her body?
Or all of the above? If this was a photo of one of my girlfriends, I’d feel very differently. I’d be cheering her on “You go, girl”, “You look hot”. But this is different because it’s a photo meant for strangers.
Is it jealousy? No. I’m not jealous. I certainly don’t look like Rachael – very few pregnant women do. And perhaps that’s what makes me feel uncomfortable. Because I think it’s a bit mean. A bit mean to every other mother and every other woman who will be a mother one day and will consciously or sub consciously (and certainly self-consciously) feel like she doesn’t measure up. One of the hardest bits about motherhood is looking after yourself. And mothers need all the inspiration they can get. If Rachael’s photo was of her in her gym gear/ doing yoga/ walking, I wouldn’t have a problem. Posing in front of a mirror in skimpy knickers and a tan doesn’t feel natural. Or normal.
The caption beside the Facebook picture makes it all the more bizarre – “Taken at 32 weeks, although only 4 to go now! Tips for the birth? R x”
Let me paint a picture of me asking the same question at 32 weeks as I am right now: dry shampoo hovering over head in a cloud of dust. On phone. Baulking at circle diagrams and something called dilation in Sarah Murdoch birthing book. Crying? Yelling? Combination of two. Puffy face. Mouth full of Mylanta. And perhaps chocolate. Gym gear on. But haven’t been and have no intention of going because I have a two year old and a one year old to wrangle and everyone wants juice and an Octonauts DVD and their nappy changed.
Since posting the photo yesterday, she’s had over 1300 Likes on Facebook. A lot of the comments certainly do give her tips about childbirth but easily 60 per cent of them are about her body. “You look fabulous”, “Stunning”, “wish I looked like that when I was pregnant” and “Holy shit. How is possible to look like that with only 4 weeks to go? I looked like an orangutan”. But that’s just the thing, she doesn’t look like this at the moment.
Rachael says she took the photo 4 weeks ago? Huh?
She’s had over 4600 Likes on Instagram. But there, she’s asked a different question “Growing a baby or a watermelon?”
So what’s going on here? Does she want tips about childbirth or discussion about the size of her belly? Neither. Because this is why people post selfies. For validation. Let’s not pretend they’re anything else. But this isn’t an ordinary selfie. It’s pregnant. It’s sexy. It’s posey. And when you combine all of that its cringey. Its sad. And I’m bothered by it because it isn’t real. Not for you. For me. Or Rachael.
Alissa Warren began her career at Radio 2UE and has worked as a reporter for ‘A Current Affair’ and Sydney’s Nine News. Recently, Alissa has written for various publications including News Ltd and Fairfax and appears as a regular panelist on various news programs. You can follow her on Twitter here.