Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Might Offend You

I had some photos taken of me the other day.

Out by some rocks in the woods.

Since I hate getting my picture taken when I'm pregnant this is a big deal for me.

And I feel very self-conscious.

Perhaps this stems from the fact that my first pregnancy was with twins and I was roughly the size of a small whale.

My ankles were so thick that my brother-in-law called them "thankles."

But subsequent pregnancies haven't been as dramatic, and since this is my last pregnancy I thought I would go out on a limb and have my tummy captured for posterity.

So here I will post a rare glimps of my pregnant self.

I must say that since we were outdoors the photo shoot was a little chilly at times.

I hope no one will be offended by it or by what I am going to say after I show you the picture.

But I am almost certain that some of you will be.

Don't worry--I'm only going to post one photo.

Are you ready?

It is coming. . . my big, fat beeeee-utiful belly.


Aren't you relieved that I have all my clothes on? 

Shame on you for thinking that I would let anyone photograph my naked belly and then post it. 

Now comes the offensive portion of my blog post. 

 If you are the kind of person who thinks it is okay to pose nude or semi-nude for a photographer and then post the photo on the internet, this blog post is not for you. You can do whatever you want with your belly.

But if you are the kind of person who doesn't normally bare skin on the internet (or anywhere else), or if you are the kind of person who wouldn't dare stand in front of a group of people and have your husband kiss your bare tummy, why does this suddenly become okay if you are pregnant?

Am I alone in wondering this?  

I have never heard anyone else complain about PDB (public displays of bellies) before, so it is no wonder I'm sure you think I've got a closed mind and a cold heart.   Of course it is taboo to tell a normally modest pregnant woman who just spent $300 dollars on a photo shoot in her sports bra that her photos lack taste and decorum. Even a slight raise of the eyebrows would put her teetering hormones over the edge.  But I am the pregnant one now and I just want to ask the question: 

Why does pregnancy make it okay to be naked?

It is not that I don't think pregnancy is beautiful and wonderful and deserves admiration. It is tremendous and miraculous.  Just because I don't want to see your bare stomach--or worse, your husband with has hands/arms/lips on your bare stomach--doesn't mean I think motherhood should not be flaunted. It should be--it is awesome. I just think a covered belly is much more appealing to the masses. Call me crazy.

I always wonder what people plan on doing with these photos.   I'll tell you right now their kids aren't going to want to look at them. Would you hang up a photo of your mother if she took a bare-tummy photo when she was pregnant with you? Bridal photos are quite sufficient. Mother/baby photos are even better. Naked babies are fine. Naked moms are not.

I tell my kids and young women to never post a photo on facebook that they wouldn't want plastered on a billboard on the side of the interstate. Do you want a poster of your pregnant self on I-15? or I-40? Or I-anything?

Some of you might have seen the 50 Most Awkward Pregnancy Photos that have been circulating around on Facebook. Some of the photos are hilarious. Most are disturbing. A few are pornographic. All of them are visually painful. If you want to look it up you will see what I mean, but I feel uneasy putting a link to it on my blog since some of the photos have scarred me for life.

You may say that these photos were just taken distastefully. That if the models were good-looking or in a different pose or didn't have such creepy husbands lurking nearby than it would be better.

But I don't think matters if you are pregnant or not, good-looking or not. Naked is naked.

It would be like saying that beautiful, artfully-posed porn stars are okay, but fat, awkward porn stars are not.

Now, all of this doesn't mean that I am the kind of person who goes to a museum and drapes scarves over naked statues and takes a sharpie to nude paintings. I expect to see nude statues and paintings in museums. However, if I went into a museum and saw YOU naked that would be quite disturbing, and you can bet I would take out my sharpie and get to work.

If you are Venus de Milo, feel free to pose naked.
If you are a Victoria Secret Model, go prance around in your lace and ribbons. I know how to avoid you.
But if you are my friend? Cover up on the internet. Save the photos for your coffee table album at home.

If you are one of my friends and have posted belly shots or if you are one of friends and you plan to one day post belly shots, please know that I will not think less of you and that I do not think you are a sinner. Just be aware I cannot share the same enthusiasm for your photos as I might otherwise since it is hard for me to be excited about something that makes me feel queasy.

As for me, there is only one person on this earth who gets to see my bare skin--pregnant or not.

And I think he really likes it that way.


  1. I used to housesit for a family who had a naked family portrait displayed prominently in their front hall. It was the first thing you saw when entering their house. It was taken when their daughter was a baby and everyone's private areas are strategically covered, but they are all definitely naked. The first thing I did when I would housesit for them was take down the picture and hide it until I left.

    1. Hahaha! A naked family portrait? That is too much. I especially like imagining that it was YOU who had to deal with that portrait, Melissa. You are such a funny girl.

    2. I forget that you guys know each other!

  2. Thank you for this post! I feel the same way! It really bothers me when moms, especially Mormon moms, feel that it is ok to pose without their garments on. It gets under my skin!

  3. Ha! I love this. Is this still "in"? It was huge with all my sis and cousin in-laws when I was pregnant with Olivia. They would pass around the photos at family get togethers (it seems everyone was pregnant at the same time It was so awkward. "Hey Uncle Dale...want to see my belly!" Yea, not into that. Melissa, are you Kidding?? That is crazy!

  4. HaHa! Chelsea won't skinny dip with me, and she won't pose naked and pregnant. tsk, tsk. no fun. And thank you for the tip about the 50 awkward belly shots. Hilarious. And super weird.

    Natalie, I'm not trying to pick a fight, I just have a very different opinion. And I am a Mormon mom. Would you feel better seeing Mormon moms pose with their garments on? Why spend energy worrying about what other people do or don't do with their underwear on or off? I think it's important to remember that we all have different levels of what we're individually comfortable with. And that's okay. We aren't offended by a beautiful photo of a ballerina in her skivvies, when it's a pregnant belly, sans garments, suddenly it's inappropriate? Many photos may be in bad taste,(very bad taste!) but I think there are some beautiful pregnant belly photos out there.

    I really have admired some of the henna pregnant belly pics I've seen, although I wasn't comfortable doing it myself when I was pregnant. In college I made a cast of my naked torso for somebody's art sculpture installation. It was anonymous. No one knew it was my naked torso. I felt okay with it. I felt like God felt okay with it. I still had a temple recommend the entire time.

    Opinions are different. And thank goodness or we wouldn't have Michelangelo's David, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, or half of Rodin's art. Maybe the pregnant-belly thing is an answer to human's desperate need to create. And to create art, specifically. We aren't all Rodin, though, so our attempts at art end up looking awkward and ridiculous. I really believe that a lot of the nude art out there and the pregnant belly pictures are just people trying to be artists. Subconsciously trying to be like God, who is the ultimate Artist. And our bodies are the ultimate work of art.

    And there's my 2¢. Can we still be friends? :)

    1. Charbear, if I didn't have friends like you I would have very boring memories.
      I was hoping someone would razz me a little and take up the other side of this topic, and I'm glad (and not surprised) that you were the one who took it on. I love that you anonymously had your torso immortalized. Of course we will ALWAYS be friends . . . but I still won't go skinny dipping with you.

    2. Way to be, Chelsea!
      I just shared your blog link with my friends.
      I hope they will still be my friends. :)
      Thanks for being a standard bearer....with your clothes on.

    3. I don't think the argument is that the body should be covered up because we're uncomfortable with it. I think what Chelsea is saying is that if you have a standard of modesty, why is it okay to break that standard just because you're pregnant and it's trendy to take bare belly photos? If you have no standard of modesty, then this doesn't apply to you. But I think the standard in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet applies to all of us (not just youth): "Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God."

  5. Dangit! I really wanted to see your naked belly. I love that you write so passionately about your annoyances. It makes me want to write how annoyed I am about people who write their Christmas card family summaries in third person..."Jon and Sally had a great vacation in Hawaii..." Did someone interview them for their Christmas card?
    Anyway, I don't want to see anyone elses naked belly, but I think if people want to do maternity photos in the buff for their own private viewing, then by all means. Our bodies are wonderous and miraculous, and if you happen to be beautifully pregnant (which I was not), then I could see wanting to capture the shapes and shadows of pregnancy as a form of art--especially to look at 20 years later to help invoke the memories of pregnancy.
    Having said all this, I would never do a naked maternity photo shoot.
    By the way, congratulations! I had no idea you were pregnant. I think our cousin Marisa is too (or at least her pinterest boards are).