Like a woman who gives birth once a year, it's time for my 3rd annual WTF maternity pics round-up. In the past, we've seen showy examples ranging from "basic" (painted bellies, heart hands, belly kisses) to "boudoir/pin-up/goddess/angel-style" (weird chiffon, close-ups, artsy angles, on the bed, wearing bad underwear, nude/semi-nude/in the bath/omg my eyes/why/why/why) -- and yet each year, I still feel like some pregnancy belly submissions have been left unturned. I can only zero in on so many examples for this column, but that doesn't mean there isn't a big, wide, round world of maternity photo shoot ideas out there. If you took just one look at my maternity pics submissions folder, you'd quickly see that the maternity photo landscape is both vast and growing. People are staging sexy selfies; hiring friends with expensive DSLR cameras and several hundred yards of chiffon to come over and roll around on the bed or in the backyard for a few hours; or they're paying out the ass (presumably) for professional photos that will last a lifetime. Regardless of the approach, the one thing these maternity photos have in common is that they all get posted on Facebook (and probably Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, too).
That said, the one thing the images don't all have in common is who's in them. Sure, 100% of maternity pictures feature the pregnant mother-to-be, but only about half of them picture the dad-to-be, i.e. the person whose chromosomes make up fifty percent of the baby's DNA. It makes perfect sense that the majority of the photo shoots focus solely on the mother -- after all, she's the one going through a physical transformation and preparing to birth a several-pound parasite -- but the maternity pics that do feature fathers have a special je nais se quoi to them that aught not go unnoticed. I've posted a few examples on STFU, Parents (who can forget the Atlas God pose? Or this shirtless guy?), but today's column is totally devoted to couple's photo shoots and how completely weird, creepy, ridiculous, and/or emotional they can be. Let's dig in, shall we?
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1. (Baby) Batter Up!
Baseball bellies are pretty popular these days. I posted one last year whose stitches were so-lifelike, the image actually serves as nightmare fuel. This time around, Amber merely got a little creative with the painted stitching along with dressing her husband in a matching white shirt and catcher's mitt (a requisite for any maternity baseball pic, reinforcing the sports theme but also subtly implying that this dad-to-be may or may not "catch" his baby during delivery). America's pastime has never been so bizarrely co-opted.
2. Baby On Board
"Okay, so here's the set-up. We're going to take an ultrasound photo and leave it on a car dashboard in the hot sun for about an hour so it crumples just so. Then, we're going to unbutton the top of your jeans, position you in front of some legs that are probably your husband's, and place that man's hands on both your belly and your butt. We aren't going for a "disembodied look" so much as a "close-up portrait" that celebrates both the life growing inside you and your favorite pair of pre-baby jeans. I think we'll go with a blood-red backdrop to really make it pop -- so to speak."
3. The Forlorn Dad
Have you met The Forlorn Dad? He's out there, clogging up your newsfeed, looking really somber and generally being That Dad. When his wife says, "We're doing a maternity photo shoot!", The Forlorn Dad reaches deep down inside to retrieve his deposit of overwhelming emotions, and he unleashes it to full effect. He WILL wrap his hands around your belly when the photographer says to crouch real low, and he WILL place his soft cheek on the belly and look very, very sad, like he's thinking about his dead grandmother or his favorite restaurant closing or, yes, the miracle that the belly is encasing -- a miracle that will soon be born and cause The Forlorn Dad to post constant, maudlin updates about how fucking awesome it is to be a kick-ass dad.
Every year on the child's birthday, The Forlorn Dad will write some annoying speech about how his wife is a warrior princess who carried and birthed their baby, and then he will list every single wonderful thing that's happened since the day the kid was born, marking all the kid's achievements and wiping tears from his eyes as he hits "publish." About 50-200 of his friends will leave comments like, "Hell yeah man, being a father is the greatest gift there is!", and you will consider the fun times you used to have with those people and wonder how you've gone from those freewheeling days to today, feeling like you want to punch them all in the face. I have at least five Forlorn Dads in my newsfeed, and I bet you do, too.
4. *Someone* Conceived Of A Great Idea!
I know there are Pinterest People out there who probably think this photo is beautiful, funny, clever, and sweet -- but seriously, eww. I don't understand this weird congratulatory schtick where men pat themselves on the back for "fuckin' their lady" and "giving her a baby," which is essentially what this dumbass chalkboard message is saying to me. Who cares if a man "did that" when the woman is the one doing all the work? Did this dude -- or any dude holding one of these stupid signs -- get heartburn for several months, give up alcohol, implement certain dietary restrictions, puke for hours, and possibly lose entire nights of sleep before giving birth? No? Well then shut the fuck up and stop making the "I Did That" joke. This photo kind of makes me want to carry an "I Ate That" sign around everywhere I go, standing next to empty taco trays and looking mighty proud. And yes, I will hire a professional photographer to get just the right rainbow effect on the taco wrapper.
5. Mom's Gold Star
I have no idea what's going on in this picture, and I can't endorse the concept or the pre-planned white button-up attire. I can, however, endorse these ridiculous ballet-inspired positions, and particularly the dad's full-hearted attempt at a plié, because he's being such a good sport about the whole thing. Not that men don't take and practice ballet for fun -- who can forget this classic moment from 'Saved By the Bell'? -- but clearly this dude did not throw on his comfiest jeans that morning in the hopes that he would find himself standing in this position in front of a camera lens. Well-done, Jerimey. I don't know why your parents spelled your name that way, but you turned out A-OK, and I appreciate your sense of humor and attempted flexibility. You may not be a dancer, but you will probably make a great dad.