Why it’s time to ban the selfie bump
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