While I don’t take issue with any woman’s right to show off her baby bump, I do often wonder: why is there such a need to publicize this process with a magazine spread?
Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, yes, but there shouldn’t be some unrealistic image of what a “perfect” pregnancy body looks like; regardless to how “glowing” Kelly Rowland looks in the photo above, it merely offers another opportunity for the world to body shame a woman.
If you don’t believe me, just take a glance at this excerpt from Women’s Health Magazine:
“…The physical changes that come with pregnancy that come with pregnancy can be both exciting and totally disconcerting. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see a woman who’s expecting embrace those differences, especially when she’s a celebrity under even more perfect-body pressure than most women. The latest role model leading the “pregnancy is beautiful” charge? Singer Kelly Rowland” (Women’s Health Magazine)
While I agree that the process of pregnancy can be hard on a woman’s body—I gained 72 pounds and struggled with the emotional and psychological issues that went along with it—I can tell you that seeing a perfectly pregnant woman, on the cover of a magazine, wouldn’t have made me feel better about myself. And while I understand this is more about the entertainment industry’s view of pregnant women, the message goes far beyond just Mrs. Rowland; we are all being held to that standard, whether we acknowledge it or not.
So, again I ask: why do we, as a society, feel the need to set a standard that will only further serve as a way of shaming those whose bodies don’t fit into the societal mold of a beautiful pregnancy.
Years ago, Demi Moore appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair—naked and very pregnant—and that
photo (seen right), taken by Anna Leibovitz, remains the gold standard for what a pregnant woman, in America, should look like..
More would follow: Mariah Carey, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Nia Long, Roselyn Sanchez, Brooke Shields, and Britney Spears have all disrobed to show off their fully pregnant bodies—all gorgeously coiffed and made up, of course.
And all—let’s keep it real here—photoshopped to perfection; and none of them your average Joan next door. Few pregnancies look or feel that perfect, trust me.
Let me be clear here: I don’t have a problem with Rowland, or any of the other women I’ve named, for showing off their bodies; regardless of the message you take from this post, understand that as a mother of two, I believe pregnancy is a wonderful, life-changing, and personal experience.
That said, it was also hard to look into the mirror some mornings and realize my body would never truly be the same again—it’s a tradeoff I’d gladly take again, but it was a challenge no less.
My only real problem, ultimately, is with the message it sends to that woman who gains 70 pounds, breaks out with acne, and fights with swollen feet and ankles for months. That woman who will forever see stretch marks when she takes her blouse off at night. That woman who battled morning sickness to the point of sheer exhaustion.
Don’t tell that woman that her pregnancy has a standard because that’s not fair.
That woman doesn’t need to feel like the world continues to judge her even now; that the mechanism and propaganda machine that surrounds the world’s standard of beauty—one that she’s come to know since the time she was old enough to hold a Barbie doll—never abates; that even when she’s 8-months pregnant she’s still not good enough.