When I was pregnant with Marko, friends and family kept hassling me for pictures of my pregnant belly. I let them talk me into it, and posted a few. This time, they've started to do it again ... and I've decided to say no.
The reason I went along last time is because I'm at such a distance from my family. I knew it must be hard for them to get their heads around the idea that I was becoming a mother. So I posted a few pictures in the hopes that it would help.
But I've never really been comfortable posting belly pictures. I don't like putting up a picture of myself so that people ignore all the features I consider important about myself (like my face) and just stare at my belly. I feel objectified when they do that. In person, people might comment on my belly but they also interact with me individually. Online, when there's just a picture, only the belly gets any attention. I guess I feel like a container instead of a person. People say they "want to see the baby," but they can't see the baby. All they can see is my big ol' gut. Then they all talk about how big it is. Where else is it appropriate to exclaim over the size of a woman's belly?
It just makes me uncomfortable. I don't mind posting pictures of myself when I'm pregnant, and if my belly happens to be visible, so be it. That is what I look like. But it's frustrating to post a picture of me with my husband, or me with my son, or me doing something fun, and all the comments are "oh, it looks like you're showing!" (Especially when I'm not. That's the way my belly always is, thank you very much.) I wish they would comment on how happy I look, or the fun thing I'm doing, or the people I'm with, like they would if I weren't pregnant.
I guess sometimes, when you're hugely and obviously pregnant, you would like people to treat you as just a regular person, instead of always noticing and commenting on the fact that you're pregnant. I imagine disabled people would get tired of people always commenting on their wheelchairs, too. I'm not ashamed, but at the same time, I'm not just a pregnant woman. I'm still the same person I was before.
And when it comes down to it, it is my body and my image. I do not have to post pictures for everyone else to see if I'm not comfortable with it. I came to this conclusion after writing the post about bodily autonomy. If a woman can post a picture of herself nursing her baby, simply because she wants to do so, then I can not post a picture of myself showing off my pregnant belly ... simply because I do not want to do so.
I'm sure lots of people I know will be disappointed by this decision. But in the end, they can't help but respect it. No one can make me display what I don't choose to. And no one can make me feel guilty for respecting my own personal boundaries -- because I don't believe there is anything for me to feel guilty about.
Am I the only one who feels this way? I know it seems the norm to post belly shots ... but surely there are other people who choose not to.