Stock images rarely depict reality. I mean, who smiles while eating a salad without dressing or croutons? No one. Also, why does everyone wear white? Seriously, I can't wear white for longer than five minutes without spilling something on myself. Pregnancy stock images are the worst offenders. In fact, in my opinion, some pregnant woman stock photos need to be banned from the internet immediately.
The other day I realized only had one photo of myself while pregnant with my second child. Then I remembered why. My pregnancy was terrible. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which meant I vomited for months on end. When that seemed to settle down, I started to swell until I was induced for preeclampsia at 37 weeks. I didn't want to remember my pregnancy, and the last thing I wanted was a photo of me miserable and unhappy. Still, I honestly regret it.
This time around, I made a point to take and pose for a ton of photos. I wanted to document every minute, from the bad days when I couldn't keep food down, to the last moments of calm before the storm. My husband captured images of my first moments with our son that I will cherish forever. I wanted to document what pregnancy was really like, not the way it is depicted in the media or in ridiculous stock photos.
Most pregnant people don't have perfectly smooth, round, airbrushed bellies with no visible stretch marks, veins, rashes, or dry skin. These images of perfection leave most pregnant people thinking they are doing it wrong. Another note worth making? Pregnant people have faces. We are not just pregnant torsos, or vessels to be objectified. When stock images do include faces, they usually are expressing one of three emotions: cheerful, sad, or angry. Which pisses me off, because most pregnant people feel a ton of emotions, and we totally don't need more images of irrational, angry women on the internet. Some seem to fetishize pregnant women in strange ways, either depicting a pregnant woman as the innocent angel or the devil in the bedroom, literally.
Honestly, most stock images leave me wondering if they've ever seen a pregnancy person in real life. They seriously should be banned. For real.
The One With The Smooth Belly
I think I had about five minutes of a smooth, flawless belly when pregnant with my first baby. Pregnant bodies are amazing, but they don't always look perfect, and the last thing pregnant people need is body image issues.
The Pregnant Woman Doing Yoga
If you search the internet, you'll find millions of photos of pregnant women doing yoga. Inspiring, right? Not really. They always have perfect bodies, and sometimes are even doing poses that are contraindicated for pregnancy. Don't get me wrong. I love yoga. I taught yoga right up until my eighth month of pregnancy, I am just so tired of images of the "right way" to be pregnant.
The Weird One With Lots Of Tulle
I think pregnancy can be a sensual and sexual experience. I loved Beyoncé's maternity photo shoot. It was amazing because it was perfectly her. Why do so many stock photos seek to create a generic image of pregnant sexuality that involve massive amounts of tulle, though?
The One Of A Headless Pregnant Body
Why do so few pregnant stock photos have heads? I know people fear they will lose some of their identity when they have kids, but do they really have to make pregnant people appear to be literally all belly, with no identity beyond being a pregnant person?
The One Of The Pregnant Woman Sitting On The Floor
Why is she sitting on the cold floor in lingerie (which is, of course, white)? Someone get that woman a chair and a blanket.
The One That Vaguely Shames Those Of Us Who Ate Crap During Our Pregnancies
When I was pregnant, there were days when I couldn't keep anything down but Sour Patch Kids and vinegar potato chips. Still, everywhere I turned there were images of healthy pregnant people, smiling while wearing white and eating a plain salad. Where are the stains on her shirt? I always had food stains on my breasts or bump. How is her kitchen that clean? Pregnancy is exhausting. She must have a housekeeper. (Or, you know, not exist in the real world.)
The One With The Pregnant Body In A Field Of Flowers
It's like they know me. Kidding. I never, not a single time, laid down in a field of flowers (and bugs), while pregnant. Also, where the heck is her head?
The One Where The Doctor Examines The Pregnant Person Fully Clothed And Standing
That's not the way it works. Stock images of medical providers frequently include things that no OB-GYN or midwife has ever done at one of my prenatal appointments.
The One With A Guy Doing Something Weirdly Sexual
I fully support expressing sexuality while pregnant, and I think pregnancy sex is freaking amazing. However, this just looks creepy. Like he owns her or her baby or wants to make out with her pregnant belly. Why?
The One Where She Looks Like A Contortionist
Umm, my body doesn't work that way, pregnant or not. Plus, that massage doesn't look relaxing at all.
The One They Use To Shame Pregnant People For Having A Glass Of Wine
If your doctor says so, it's totally OK to have a glass of wine while pregnant. There is no evidence that one glass of wine will hurt your baby. Don't let random photos on the internet shame you.
The One With A Pregnant Person In Pain At Her Desk
What's happening here? Is she in labor, sad, or does she just have gas? Did she mistakenly Google pregnancy symptoms? Whatever it is, it's so overwhelming that she forgot to turn on her computer. Or maybe she has pregnancy brain?
The One With The Baby
I'm so confused. What is happening here? Is she pregnant? Did she just have this baby? That actually would make sense, because you totally still look pregnant after giving birth.
The One With The Pregnant Person Stuffing Their Face
She's growing a human, so she can have some cake without being mocked (or using her bare hands).
The One Where The Pregnant Person Is Working While Their Partner Sits Around
This one just makes me mad. Why is he sitting there, while she does all of the work?
The One Where She's Being Emotional
The last thing we need is another image to reinforce stereotypes about pregnant women being hormonal and emotional. It's so condescending.
The One With The Bow
Maybe it's because you can't see her bellybutton (or maybe she doesn't have a bellybutton, because she's an alien), but this one weirds me out.
The One Of The Serene Woman In Labor
Having experienced labor three times, there's no way this actually depicts a mom-to-be in labor. Where are the fluids? She's smiling. Why is she smiling? Where is her epidural? Seriously.
If she's just in the hospital for a check, she's likely to be worried, not calm.
The One Where A Pregnant Woman Is Riding A Broom
I have no explanation for this. Are they trying to be funny, or sexual? I don't understand. Why is she riding a broom? Why is she wearing lingerie? The strangest thing is that this is one of many stock photos of a pregnant woman on a broom. For what purpose does one need a stock image like this? If you figure it out, let me know.