Last year, I dedicated a column to notable maternity picture trends, and since then, my inbox has continued to balloon with bizarre submissions. Also since then, the world has gained about a zillion “What She Wore” Kim Kardashian maternity photo galleries, which got me thinking about how people publicly portray themselves when they’re pregnant. Not that I care what Kim Kardashian wears, and not that everyone who steps foot outside her home is “making a statement” with an outfit, but there’s something to be said about a woman’s approach to pregnancy in the public eye. After all, Kate Middleton would never be caught dead wearing this, nor would she post elaborate boudoir photo shoots of herself on Facebook (I’m assuming). And it’s not just because she’s royalty. It’s because it’s not her style.
I understand the impulse behind maternity photo shoots and the desire to document one’s changing body, because pregnancy is a fully transformative experience. You could even make a case that those nine months *should* be documented. However, the ways in which some people choose to do that boggle the mind, especially when the images are shared on Facebook. I try to imagine what each person is trying to achieve with the posts, but ultimately I keep coming back to the same reactions, which range from a simple “No.” to “Oh, for the love of god, NO.” Here are some more examples of maternity pictures that probably should have been kept offline, but for whatever reason, weren’t.
1. Bikini Bod Selfie
Okay, so…Chelsea was just looking for an excuse to post a picture of herself in a bra and underwear? Got it. Something tells me she’ll also document the road “back” to her bikini body after she has her baby. And won’t that be exciting?
2. Belly Paint
Painted bellies are fun, common, and inoffensive, but I think one or two painted belly shots will suffice. An album with varying angles and different lighting might be better in tangible form for the baby’s bookshelf. Being from Atlanta, I appreciate her Braves pride, but being an average Facebook user, I’m guessing this mom-to-be’s friends are gearing up for the baby’s arrival with slight trepidation. If the belly gets documented this much, you know the baby pictures will be threefold.
3. Photoshop Update
Remember the trend of Photoshopping the sonogram onto a woman’s belly in post-photo shoot production? Well, now the hip craze is to Photoshop the baby after its born back onto his/her mother’s belly. See how the baby fits perfectly? And his head is down, just like it was in real life when he was gestating? Roni is giving the world a look at what it really looks like inside the womb! The miracle of childbirth meets the miracle of technology. I’d be surprised if Olan Mills doesn’t offer this.
4. Belly Angles
This is the maternity picture equivalent of a double chin. Why oh WHY would anyone post this online? Her head looks so tiny. Her belly looks like it’s going to pop. A large belly is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not necessarily something everyone wants to see while scrolling through Facebook, either. At least, not like this. Pull your shirt down, April.
5. Dad Belly Jokes: Right Way vs. Wrong Way
The “dad belly” trend is captured so perfectly in this Gold Star-worthy image, I feel like applauding. The way they’re sitting, his hands proudly cradling his beer belly, is truly a masterpiece of Facebook pregnancy announcements. I especially enjoy Barb’s comment, because I can’t tell if she’s referring to Chris or Kimberly with her “glowing” remark. Excellent.
With that said, it’s really not easy to mess up the dad belly joke photo. I’ve seen several iterations and 99 percent of them were hilarious. Until I saw this:
Here are a few things about this photograph that make me want to look away:
1. The belly placement. Sumo style is great if the bellies are near the same height, but the way his is “resting” on hers actually makes me think I’d prefer an image of just her.
2. Her pinky. For a split second, it looks like a very low-hanging nipple. If I wasn’t wearing my contacts that is what I would see. A protruding, oddly-positioned nipple.
3. Her underwear. To circle back to example #1 in this round-up, let me be clear about something: No one wants to see your underwear. Whether you’re in week 16, week 24, or week 40, keep your undies to yourselves, ladies. If you’ve managed to keep your underwear out of your maternity pictures, you’ve already won half the battle. Well, maybe more like a quarter of the battle, but still, that is one statement you don’t want to make. Kate Middleton wouldn’t do it, so why should you?