Why We Need to See Powerful Pregnant People
Think about the first-ever pregnant person you saw on tv:
Chances are that TV didn’t give you a completely accurate representation of pregnancy or motherhood…
When I was in middle school, shows like Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant were on the rise, which certainly did not paint a pretty picture of being pregnant.
Then, when I hit my 20s. Facebook and Instagram started hitting me with highlight reels full of women laying in sunflower fields in flowy maternity dresses and men kissing pregnant bellies under a sunset.
It used to be bloated, screaming ladies with bedhead and now it’s glowing goddesses?
To me, both of these dichotomous depictions of pregnancy in the media are harmful. One emphasizes perfection, the other portrays emotional dysfunction and chaos.
But what about the good things? The real good things- not Instagram-filtered baby bumps but pregnant people who are powerful, strong, and resilient. Working moms who are successful and happy. Society would benefit if we saw more of THIS in the media.
Combatting stereotypes and unrealistic body image
Seeing powerful pregnant people can help society eradicate harmful stereotypes about pregnancy.
And truthfully, stereotypes of pregnant women put them in danger.
Pregnant workers are commonly labeled as incompetent, weak, or less committed to their job. This leads to overworking, putting their health at risk, and results in more workplace accidents.
The unrealistic portrayal of pregnant bodies
Healthy and strong pregnant bodies will help to combat the damaging effects of social media.
In her blog post, one woman addresses her grievances about seeing ‘celebrities with teeny tiny bumps.’
In the age of social media, women who are pregnant are bombarded with images of photos of women with tiny bumps, and this comparison can damage self-esteem.
Gaining too little weight increases the risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and even miscarriage. Proportionately low weight gain during pregnancy can be normal for a lot of women, too. We’re not body-shaming over here! The point is that you shouldn’t compare YOUR pregnant body to another.
Weight gain and body changes are normal and they’re an essential part of helping the baby grow and develop.
Shifting attitudes about pregnancy and motherhood
This is 2022, we no longer show a husband and wife sleeping in separate beds so why aren’t our models of pregnant women and mothers getting the same media update? Are women doomed to a lifelong career of stay-at-home-motherhood without a choice of their own?
As it turns out…
Pregnancy can be good for your career.
A suitable icon for pregnant women is comedian and renaissance woman Ali Wong. When she was seven months pregnant, she released her 2016 special Baby Cobra. Just two years later, she filmed and released ANOTHER special while pregnant. Can you imagine???
Ali Wong told Vulture how rare it is to see a pregnant female comedian..because there aren’t any. TV productions typically don’t know how to handle pregnant women.
When Elle interviewed Ali Wong about her new special, Wong explains:
“When you’re pregnant, you’re hungry, tired, and fat, so you have this ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude that lends itself really well to performance. You let go of all dignity and shame, and it’s beautiful.”
Similarly, 2022 Forbes article captures the positive experiences of successful women simultaneously running a business and raising a family. The article demonstrates that while challenging, a lot of the working moms optimized their productivity.
Dr. Jasmin Hume, founder and CEO of Shiru said, "This is literally and figuratively the most productive time in my life - I'd love for more women to know it's possible."
Not all pregnant people on TV are poorly represented. This article demonstrates which TV characters had the most realistic pregnancies.
We could all benefit from seeing more powerful pregnant people and successful working moms in the media. We need more Ali Wongs and Jasmin Humes, women who can demonstrate that it IS possible to bring a living being into the world and build a career you love.
All pregnant bodies are beautiful! Let’s celebrate the good, bad, ugly, and miraculous.