Why it’s time to ban the selfie bump

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP -

When I was preg­nant, I had vari­cose veins as long as Lower North East Rd. They went all the way to — let’s call it — Par­adise. I sweated like a zoo an­i­mal, had weird brown lines on my stom­ach, and re­flux that made me smell like vomit. Naked, I looked like a flesh­coloured Tele­tubby with an out-of-con­trol bikini line.

Not sur­pris­ingly, I do not un­der­stand some women’s ob­ses­sion with doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery as­pect of their preg­nan­cies on so­cial media.

No siree. I ran — or, to be more pre­cise, wad­dled — away from any cam­era dur­ing my three preg­nan­cies.

Even now I do not care to see strange women’s bare preg­nant bel­lies. I do not want to see other women’s dis­torted tummy flesh. And I def­i­nitely don’t want to see alien-style baby bumps mov­ing un­der skin on my Face­book or In­sta­gram feed.

And yet this is ex­actly what we get from a hand­ful of yoga in­struc­tors/pro­fes­sional wives/bikini mod­els who seem to have noth­ing else to do but ad­mire them­selves in mir­rors and post self­ies of their stom­achs online.

They’re usu­ally decked out in the latest over­priced yoga wear or match­ing lin­gerie and pos­ing in im­mac­u­late mar­ble-filled bath­rooms. And they al­ways — al­ways — have cute lit­tle baby bumps and not an ounce of fat any­where on their bod­ies.

In most cases they’re not post­ing be­cause they want to de­mys­tify preg­nancy or break down bar­ri­ers for other women. Rather, it’s about show­ing they can still rock a $300 bikini when they’re 38 weeks preg­nant. It’s pure nar­cis­sism, in my book.

The leader of the pack is Hilaria Bald­win, the wife of ac­tor Alec Bald­win, who ob­ses­sively doc­u­mented her re­cent preg­nancy one ex­hi­bi­tion­ist post at a time.

She was re­cently even lauded on one web­site for “bravely” show­ing off her post-baby bump on In­sta­gram. Bravely? Come on.

Brave is Rosie Batty talk­ing about the 13th birth­day her son Luke will never get to celebrate.

Brave is not some­one who’s stick thin show­ing off the mer­est slither of a post baby bump on so­cial media. It might be dif­fer­ent if Bald­win looked like many other preg­nant women — 15kg over their nor­mal weight with can­kles and bad hair — but she def­i­nitely does not.

Bald­win also ex­pe­ri­enced the dark side of post­ing about preg­nan­cies: the in­evitable judg­ment and back­lash from strangers. She was forced to de­fend her­self against ac­cu­sa­tions that she had a cae­sarean birth rather than a nat­u­ral one. Let me tell you, that one got nasty.

Most preg­nant posers have a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence, and dis­cover the hard way that mix­ing ex­treme fit­ness and preg­nancy doesn’t wash so well with so­cial media fol­low­ers.

One was per­sonal trainer So­phie Guidolin, who is 27-weeks preg­nant with twins and copped it for post­ing shots of her­self lift­ing 30kg weights.

There’s also Sarah Stage, who’s an un­der­wear model who posted preg­nant shots show­ing her stom­ach’s firm mus­cles while she was just about to give birth. The back­lash was ex­plo­sive.

But what can you ex­pect when you put your life and your body out there like that? You can’t in­vite peo­ple into your pri­vate world and then con­trol what they might say.

Bald­win also re­vealed on so­cial media re­cently that she was ac­tu­ally in labour when she posed for a photo last week at an event at New York’s Guild Hall.

Great. So now we have a new bar to jump over: stay­ing glam­orous and up­right even while in labour?

I seem to re­mem­ber I was mak­ing an­i­mal noises and crawl­ing on all fours while giv­ing birth — at least, that was un­til the drugs kicked in.

Sure, these are just three women, but be­tween them, they have more than 2 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. That’s a pretty size­able au­di­ence.

My con­cern is the fact that they cre­ate un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions among nor­mal women and de­monise healthy preg­nancy weight gain. It also fu­els the trend for oth­ers to judge and as­sess preg­nant women’s bod­ies. Things are bad enough al­ready in this depart­ment. Just look at poor Zara Phillips, who had a big lunch and wore an ill-fit­ting dress. It sparked preg­nancy head­lines around the world. It was the most talked-about food baby for 24 hours.

Now, I am all for help­ing preg­nant women feel good about their bod­ies. I also think it’s great if women stay in shape and want to celebrate the fact. But I fail to see how ex­hi­bi­tion­ist preg­nant self­ies are go­ing to in­spire any­one. Blog with Susie at susieobrie­n.com.au, Face­book.com/Newswithsu­se and fol­low her on Twit­ter @susieob

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