A while ago, Mamamia ran a story that really annoyed me.
It was this article about what pregnant women ‘really’ look like, and subsequently it was shared with a caption around what ‘real’ women look like during their pregnancy, without Photoshop and the rest of it.
The premise of the article is great, as is the project. Photographer, Natalie McCain, who has struggled with her own body image and weight, compiles a series of photographs of heavily pregnant women, showing the perceived ‘truth’ of the matter. The heaviness, which goes everywhere not just on said baby belly, the stretch marks, the cellulite, the linea negra etc etc. You name it, and a lot of pregnant women have experienced it.
The project celebrates the female form and the magic behind conception and carrying a baby. Sounds great, right? I love it, truly.
But here’s the issue. When you start bandying terms around like ‘real’ women, and an ‘authentic’ pregnancy it starts to offend people. Women like me for example, who recently gave birth to a 3.6 kilogram baby girl, but gained very little weight during their pregnancy.
Yes, I was one of those women with a teeny baby bump that everyone hates, who wears their own clothes the entire pregnancy, can exercise up until the thirty-eighth week (which is basically the end) and then returns to their original figure in a few weeks sans stretch marks, loose skin, linea negra etc.
But, why hate me? Does the fact that I carried smaller make my pregnancy less ‘real’ or ‘authentic’? After all I did have a baby in my uterus for 10 months and I did birth it from my vagina.
Vagina, there’s a real word for you.
So the article made me angry. There are a lot of women out there who had to endure commentary throughout their entire pregnancy about how ‘small’ they were, comments like: