I came across these photos on my friend’s facebook page. She has apparently deleted the post since I last saw it, but her comment said something to the effect of, “This woman is going to make men of my generation think that all women look like this when they are 8 months pregnant. MEN: YOUR WIVES WILL NOT LOOK LIKE THIS.”
All I could think is: wow. These photos — this woman’s post — clearly touches on femininist issues, but… is it sexist? Before I can come to any conclusions, I need to break down the layers of emotional response that these pictures bring up.
First, this picture has clearly made women feel badly about themselves. I’ve never been pregnant, but my sister had her second child last December, and I remember very specifically that she did not look like this. And, she absolutely did not feel like taking selfies in a bra and panties. Also, my friend who originally posted this link was obviously upset. She is currently 8 months pregnant, and — like most women — is not currently able to see her abs.
Then, there’s the backlash that this model experienced for posting these pictures. Her instagram feed was covered with comments, expressing that she was “obviously” unhealthy; that she was doing something wrong; that she needed medical attention. Now, don’t get me wrong… I’ve never seen a 37 week pregnant woman with a baby bump this small. But I’m not a doctor, and I know there’s an entire television show called “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant,” so clearly pregnancy looks different for different people. Who am I to shame her for how her body has responded to pregnancy.
Finally, why is she posting these pictures to begin with? Who is she posting them for? Granted, she is a model, so she’s probably used to posing for pictures in her bra and panties. But what does it say about our society, that we are sexualizing and objectifying women even when they are nearly 9 months pregnant?!
I feel really conflicted about this woman’s post. I’m lucky (and happy) because these pictures don’t make me feel bad about my own body. With that said, I totally understand the impact it could have on a woman who is currently (or recently) pregnant. It also makes me a little bit sad that this woman is being so objectified. But on the other hand, she is happy with how her body looks and she’s proud of her appearance, so that makes me feel bad about feeling sad. Finally, are the women who are harassing this model for being “too skinny” propagating sexism by body-shaming? I just… I just don’t quite know how to feel.
Why is it so complicated? Why can’t I just look at her photos and rather than think about her motivation for posting the photos, the intent behind her internet commenters, the anger and shame that these photos “make” other pregnant women feel, why can’t I just accept that she is a really fit pregnant woman and think, “Wow… just… Wow.”
***UPDATE*** As I was writing this post, I found out that the model Sarah Stage delivered a healthy baby boy. He weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. I say it again. WOW.