• Wed, Jun 6 2012

STFU Parents: So About Those Maternity Pictures On Facebook

  1. Maternity pictures have become popular social media fixtures for several reasons, most of which make no sense to me. Some couples post them to be funny. They think it’ll be goofy to participate in the ongoing fad that is The Over-The-Top Belly Pic. Whether the belly is painted or props (such as the occasional gun and/or watermelon) are involved, these pictures are intentionally styled to be jokes. Then there are the couples who view pregnancy as extraordinarily beautiful and want to illustrate how much they love each other through the soul-capturing art of photography. Heart hands, yards of chiffon, and lots of belly kissing are all signs of a couple’s strength and true love. Finally, there are the centerfolds, the women who get pictures taken of themselves looking like the goddesses they are, wearing expansive wings, draped in satin sheets, and sometimes standing in a meadow. It’s all very artistic and self-congratulatory, but hey, screw it. Carrying a baby is a long and arduous process, and if a woman or couple wants to celebrate that time period with pictures, so be it.

Everyone welcomes the responsibility of parenthood and the miracle of life in different ways. And I don’t really care if people want to dress up as literary characters and hire a photographer to take their picture by a pool or on a farm or standing in the frozen foods section of a supermarket. That’s their prerogative. But when the pictures get posted on Facebook, I start to cringe. Especially since there are now so many different “styles” of maternity pics, with everyone seemingly trying to out-do each other. It’s amusing, and some of the pictures are genuinely sweet, but I can’t help but wonder why they’re being shared online. Am I crazy for thinking that maternity pictures should be kept private or between close friends rather than prominently displayed on Facebook? Maybe it depends on the type of picture. Let’s take a look at some examples of popular trends in maternity portraiture on social media to figure it out.

1. Pregnancy Is a Gift


This approach takes “the gift of a baby” literally by tying a ribbon around a woman’s belly and declaring her baby “a gift from God” or “not to opened until its due date!” It’s been done time and time again, but the ladies sure do love it.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

    Can we talk about the woman who posts a weekly picture of her growing belly… Because the whole world needs to see her progress. Even better, they start posting side-by-sides from their previous pregnancy so you can compare.

    • Rachael

      My cousin made an album for every week. An album. And then continued this with the baby until it was almost two. Sometimes she would take more than two hundred pictures and have to make two albums. “Baby, Week 28, Part II”. It was…insane.

    • Jessie

      This is a real life torment for me. My pregnant friend is is becoming one of “those” moms, you know the ones who post about 42 million pictures of hwat essentially seems to the same damned thing on her facebook.

      And she’s only five months along…. I dread the birth photos, and the eight hundred million shots of her baby sleeping.

    • Jessie

      *what. Sorry, typing too fast in my horror.

    • momof2

      Exactly. I had to see a picture EVERY damn week of my sister in laws belly- they were grainy, dark, and half naked. Who cares that much? We don’t need to see that your belly now has tiger stripes of large purple stretch marks. I had to hide her, couldn’t take it anymore. And I was also pregnant at the same time.

    • Dawn

      I had only 1 picture of me pregnant on my facebook. At 20 weeks (but with twins, I looked like I was about 40 weeks), in a dress at my cousin’s wedding standing next to my husband. It was not a reflective shot in the bathroom mirror. I showed no skin. No one wanted to see my stretchmarked, PUPPPS covered body. I was not a fan of my enormous ass, so no one else was going to be. I just find those pictures obnoxious.

      But one of my friends was pregnant at the same time. She wanted to keep her pregnancy a private thing, so she did not post any pictures on her page. She really didn’t talk about it on her page that much. Instead, she created a fucking GROUP for her pregnancy. Like a goddamn pregnancy blog with daily cravings and monthly belly pics- eventhough she was a heavier girl and you could never tell she was pregnant. Now that she’s had her kid, she posts about 15 pictures a day and lists her kid’s daily menu and activities.

      There should be a “no one gives a fuck” button on facebook.

    • MommyK

      Bahahaha! YOU should write a blog instead of your friend; you are hilarious :D

    • JudeLawGuardian

      OMG. Sheer genius. XD Let’s ask facebook if they can’t give us a button like that…

  • Tracy

    Soo… where is the belly button in photo #1? Photoshopped?

    • MommyK

      OMG that’s the first thing I thought too!

  • Eileen

    On the plus side, that last woman’s panties are quite styling’.

    I do like seeing an occasional belly shot. The key word is “occasional.” I also like to see an occasional picture of the baby once it’s born, but there don’t need to be 5,000,000 of them.

  • Tiffany

    I didn’t want to post pictures of my big belly on facebook for the reason you stated-because it was private. We did put one on a christmas card for family and I uploaded it to Facebook ONLY because people wouldn’t stop begging me to “put belly pictures on facebook!! pleaaasee!”

    so clearly, some people enjoy them.

    I also didn’t upload any sonogram pictures because he was always covering his face in every picture..not much to see there. Again, people still BEGGED me to upload them.

    • Amy

      I’ll admit that I like to see my pregnant FB friends belly pictures when they are casual and wearing a sweater. Those are cute. Bare skin is not cute.

  • Erin W

    That last one is awesome. “No big deal, we’ll just take it here in the rec room. Let me get my clothes off.”

  • Jessie

    Ugh… My best friend is pregnant and I am now having to sit through most of these being posted on her Facebook. The most recent one is one of those stupid “daddy makes heart hands over the belly” shots. Gag me!

  • Reality

    As annoying as #4 is, at least she’s not part of the desperate & pathetic trend of trying to be “unique” by misspelling names or choosing a name that rhymes with Aiden. I immediately think less of people who name their kids Mykynzee, Brytanie, Jaydyn, Wynter….

    • Heather

      My personal rule for naming is to test it out with different professions. I think that you need to be able to day “The right honourable ____” AND “The grammy goes to ____.” I don’t see anything saying “The right honourable Mykynzee Blanket Jonez.” (I’m Canadian, this is a political title).

    • Laura

      Except also any crazy name fits into “And the Grammy goes too…”

      A guy named Skrillex (or something) was nominated this year.

  • Meg

    I really want to believe that some of these women/families are roped into this crap by photographers who just took a class on “Cheesy stuff to make a few extra bucks”. I really really want to.

  • CC Pat

    These pictures make me glad I had my children before social media was “born.” My youngest child is 13. If only my FB friends knew how sick I am of their belly pictures, ultrasounds, and yes, even their pee sticks. Did I mention the 3D pics that are all the rage? Gack! One mom recently had a photo of her 3 older children kissing her belly even though she was only about 8 weeks along and there wasn’t much to see. It was kind of creepy and looked really fake….ick!!!! Well, at least with FB she won’t be sending out weekly/biweekly email reports like she did with #3.

    • Amy

      3D ultrasound pics are super duper creepy. I don’t want to see pictures of someone’s uterus at the best of times, let alone when it’s filled with a half-formed alien looking thing.

    • Laura

      Yes! One of my friends is pregnant and always post those 3D ultrasounds. Then everyone comments about how cute it is. What!? Yes, babies are cute, but that is not a picture of a cute little baby.

  • Ess

    I don’t know … it’s personally never bothered me to see (most) pregnant photos. My general rule of thumb is … would the photo bother me if the person wasn’t pregnant? If so, it may bug me a bit (i.e. if they’re stark naked or wearing panties in a rec room while bragging about themselves). But if it’s just a standard portrait of the woman and she has a growing bump, it’s never occurred to me to be upset or annoyed by them. I don’t think it’s fair to ask women to avoid cameras for nine months, or posting their images publicly, as if a pregnant woman in a dress is an automatic attention-seeking gross-out fest that a non-pregnant woman in a dress isn’t. Every woman I know has posted at least a few cute pregnancy shots. It’s just about moderation, I guess.

    • odbeckster

      Moderation and good taste. Those are the key.

    • Nikki

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pregnancy shots. My mom has her own pregnancy pictures… but they weren’t posed, she wasn’t in her underwear. The picture that always struck me as a kid was one of her hugely pregnant with me lying on the couch with kittens on her belly. Not taken by a professional photographer, but by my dad. Whatever happened to that?

    • Gracie287

      But, none of these examples are standard portraits with a growing belly. I read this mostly as examples of maternity picture cliches (the bow, the creepy photoshopped fetus, the mom-to-be who posts a weekly belly pic starting before she even has a bump to see), with a weird navel piercing and one overshare (in her underwear in the rec room) thrown in for color. Maternity photos, like many topics STFU Parents covers, are increasingly becoming a Facebook trend, and one of the functions of this column and the website has always been documenting trends.

    • STFUParents

      Thanks, Gracie287, for saying that. I use this column to discuss a range of topics, and one of the purposes is to document trends on social media. I think maternity pictures definitely fits that description!

  • Angie

    Pregnant shots don’t bother me in the least. The bad ones are a great source of entertainment. It’s easy enough for me to scroll past them if I don’t want to look, or if someone does start to annoy me, I just hide them on FB.

  • Zoe

    Both my mother and my MIL have only a single photo of them being noticeably pregnant. They were both too wary at being ‘fat’ to allow any more than this. I was at lunch with both of them last year and a heavily pregnant woman in a stretched midriff top waddled past our table. (I doubt the top would have suited her even when she wasn’t pregnant.) Mum and MIL both winced. Mum said, “why show that off? Who wants to see it? Not a good look to try and carry off!” and MIL said, “is she proud of that? Is that something you advertise? Is that meant to be special? I’ve seen three other pregnant women today!”

    Different attitudes from different times… and sometimes I think it’s no bad thing. And yes, I find swollen bulging bellies a bit gross; whether it’s a baby or just fat.

  • Iscrwdbert

    A family member of mine was recently pregnant with twins (both were happy and healthy despite being born early) and she really only had a couple of shots of her “belly”. She was always covered and most were the professional kind that came out really tasteful.

    I wish I could say the same for some of the other pregnant couples on my FB feed.

  • Sharky

    Attention-whoring. Most people who post these photos on Facebook and other social media sites post a new, different one every week. They don’t want you to forget that they’re pregnant! It’s all about them. If a friend starts acting this way during a first pregnancy and it gets on your nerves, be aware that it might be time to start hiding their updates for the duration — it’s only going to get worse when the kid is actually born.

    Pregnant bellies don’t make me uncomfortable, per se, but I don’t think they’re a vision of beauty, either. If a non-pregnant friend posted photos of her bare midriff on Facebook, that would make me think she lost control of all decorum. I don’t know why being pregnant makes people think it’s okay to be photographed in semi-nudity and splash it all over the feeds of every person they ever met.

  • May

    Who cares?

    I usually enjoy STFU parents but it seems that lately it’s become less a commentary on over-share and more a means to bash sharing in general.

    • Jane

      You don’t think a full body shot in your undies is oversharing?

    • Brittani

      You’re being sarcastic, right? I don’t care if you’re not pregnant. I don’t care if you’re 105lbs or 250lbs. Posting pictures in your underwear on a public forum and calling yourself a ‘hot piece of ass’ is trashy, trashy, trashy, and ABSOLUTE overshare.

    • STFUParents

      Sorry you feel that way, but I consider these pictures to be much more than simple “sharing.” I understand if you disagree, but I do not make a conscious effort to “bash sharing in general.” I would never do a round-up of “5 Parents Sharing That Their Kids Took Their First Steps,” for instance.

  • Mew

    Well, I’ve got my nightmare fuel for the day. Especially the last picture and the one with the piercing. Guh. Pregnancy bellies are absolutely vile.

    • MsTeach

      “Pregnancy bellies are absolutely vile.”

      ??????

      Really?

      Statements like this tickle me, on one hand, and make me want to vomit, on the other.

      First, pregnancy and babies and a woman’s ability to give birth have been used time and time again to keep women in their place (just check the historical record and please don’t ask me to prove it — if you don’t know this by now, you never will). Women who don’t want to have kids or who don’t want to enjoy the “miracle of birth” are seen as “unnatural” or “just going through a phase” which they will eventually outgrow in order to experience the beforementioned “miracle of birth”. Throughout human history, women’s worth — their VALUE — has been tied to their reproductive capabilities.

      On the OTHER hand, as a society, we don’t want to talk about the “intricacies” of the reproduction process — like menstruation, ovulating, PREGNANCY BELLY, and childbirth. These things are “gross” or, as the reply above so eloquently says, “absolutely vile”.

      So the message is, celebrate that ability that we are going to use to keep you in your place (being paid $.77 on the man’s dollar, only having a small percentage of female governmental representatives despite the fact that they make up 50% of the population) in PRIVATE. It is only beautiful when we can use it against you — other than that, it’s “absolutely vile”!!!

    • JudeLawGuardian

      I don’t have issues with discussing mensturation, ovulating, etc., and I can talk to you about abortion and orgasms all day long. I just don’t want to SEE THIS. I agree with the “vile” comment—I DON’T want to see big fat guts every time someone feels the need to share the fact that they’re helping contribute to the world overpopulation problem. I’m sick of people posting their stupid crap like this thinking that the rest of us are enthralled about their spawn as they seem to be.

  • ladycrim

    The photoshop in #2 makes it look like she’s pregnant with a skeleton. Creepy.

  • Ipsedixit

    Who are these people?! Do they exist in real life? Why is this even a “thing?”

    I thank my lucky stars I don’t have friends who parade around their pregnant bellies or take a week by week shot and post it. Keep that to yourself.

    The second one is going to give me nightmares. It’s not creative or cute, but the highest level of tacky.

  • Suzy

    I thought the Photoshopped pregnant pics were the worst til I saw the belly ring one. Ewwww.

    And I think by “hot piece of pregnent ass” she means “red stretch marks & saggy boobs” complimented by the kids’ toys in the background. Keep it classy, Facebook!!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      lol I have TWO belly piercings and I do not plan on giving them up if I get pregnant.
      just because I’m gonna be a Mom doesn’t mean I’ve to give up who I am!
      Plus I spent too long looking after the piercings to give em up.

    • Kirra

      A person with a belly button piercing is ‘who you are’?

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      my personal appearance. i fought for years to be able to wear my tattoos and piercings with pride.
      everyone is different but for me, my body is part of me, my body art is part of who i am

  • TheSimpleTruth

    I dislike maternity pics irrelevant of “classiness”. I think they’re all in poor taste. My least favorites:
    1) holding the hands in the shape of a heart over the belly.
    2) the father kissing the belly. How emasculating for a photo.

    • canaduck

      Yeah, a REAL man would just punch the belly or stand next to it while flexing and polishing a gun.

  • MommyK

    The photoshopped ultrasound looks like she’s pregnant with a ghost. Said ghost will likely appear in my dreams tonight. How creepy!

  • Andie

    The last lady could have at least worn matching undies….

  • JudeLawGuardian

    BARF. I do NOT want to see this ANYWHERE. Please stop taking these gross out pictures–no one wantst to see that and no one cares. The only one who thinks it’s “wonderful” and “miraculous” are the mother and maybe the father.

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  • VJ Cole

    Why anyone would think her huge belly covered with stretch marks is in any way sexy is beyond me. Maybe to the baby’s father, but not to anyone else.