re-picturing PREGNANCY

How has pregnancy changed the way you and others think about your body?

Today we’re talking about the paradoxical consequences of pregnancy for Re-Picturing Women Wednesday.

On the one hand, pregnancy can be a time of great wisdom, connection, and strength for women and their bodies.

The body can be a source of new knowledge. It requires different foods, rest, and movement than it did before.

The body can also be a source of connection. The connection to the being growing within is completely unlike past relationships.

New strength is found as body literally creates and births another being.

On the other hand, it can be a time of additional sexual objectification experiences.

Appearance commentary and body evaluation from others is a relatively frequent experience for women. Pregnancy can make sexual objectification even more frequent, but it may take on a decidedly different flavor.

Suddenly, a swollen belly becomes the object of other people’s attention.

People may feel perfectly comfortable staring at (and often touching) women’s pregnant mid-sections. Although touch can be a form of connection, when it comes from complete strangers it is hardly the welcome connection that most women are seeking. Although the bodily changes are one important part of pregnancy, women are often trying negotiate profound changes, including changes in the body, new roles as expecting mothers, and sometimes what seem to be entirely different lives.

Vanessa Roof is re-pictured here. Below she shares her experience with pregnancy and her body. Vanessa is a fierce woman who is also a psychologist, researcher, mother, artist, student, and many other things. I am honored and delighted to have her share her experience as she expects her third child!

How did it feel to be photographed? It was strange – I don’t think I have been photographed since my wedding – nearly 9 years ago.  I usually try to stay out of pictures. It made me realize that I really need to try to be in more pictures – especially with my kids.

Tell us a little bit about the story of your body. I normally think about my body from a health standpoint.  I think that being healthy is most important – eating right, staying active, sleeping enough, taking care of yourself.  As an adolescent, I thought there were a lot of things that were wrong with my body – that seems to be a normal phase.  As an adult, especially with 2.5 kids, I have realized that each year my body changes a little more, so I try to appreciate where I am right now because next year….things will look a little different.  I think that over the past 3-5 years, I have become completely comfortable in my body – and not just with my body – with my whole self.  That was nice.

How has this changed when you’ve been pregnant? Some women really enjoy being pregnant, and I am really not one of them.  I have a short torso which means I am very uncomfortable for about four months.  It means simple things – like my son had to help me take my boots off last week.  I can’t paint my own toenails.  This baby is a boy, and the extra testosterone also affects me in some way – I really just don’t feel ‘cute’ very often.  I didn’t feel that way when I was pregnant with my daughter.

What struggles have you had with your body? I always wish I was stronger.  I am not an athlete, and I wish that I could develop those long and lean muscles that come with athletes.  My struggle with my body is that I am so busy, I really do not have much time to workout, and I like how fit bodies look.  Some women figure out how to keep working out with small kids and full time work – I am not one of them.  I try to run, but that is sporadic as well.

What makes you feel alive and energized in your body? Sun and Water.  I love swimming, being at the pool, laying out.  I also like when I use my body for something physical and I accomplish what I set out to do – like running a long distance.  I also like wearing a great pair of jeans and boots or flip-flops.  That makes me feel cute.

If you could tell women (or men) one thing about women’s bodies, what would it be? Growing up, I was involved in dance, and I continued with dance through college.  My dance teacher in college was amazing, and when we were working on something that was difficult, she would tell us to close our eyes and ‘just feel it.’  I loved that approach – she told us to shut our eyes and find what felt right from within.  I wish women could shut their eyes and do what ‘feels’ right rather than what they see as right.  My daughter is going to start dance with the same teacher this fall, and I can’t wait.  

Anything else to share? Women’s bodies really are amazing.  They are powerful, capable of amazing things, and really beautiful.

What was your experience of pregnancy?  How did it change how you experienced your body? Did you experience it as empowering, objectifying, or some of both?

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    • Tom
    • March 23rd, 2011

    Awesome. Great photos and great post!

  1. Love these photos and Vanessa’s perspective.

    • Celina Wyss
    • March 28th, 2011

    Beautiful post and photos!

  2. Personally, I really enjoyed being pregnant (except in the end, as it was August in New Mexico, and I think that says it all). That said, there is something about babies that people view as “community property.” All of a sudden, when they see a pregnant body, people think they have the right to an opinion. I was in an exercise class when I was about 4 months pregnant, and a woman have the gall to walk up to me and tell me that she was “concerned for my baby’s well-being,” and implied that her sister had lost a pregnancy due to over-exerting herself. I can safely say that this sort of thing wouldn’t have happened had I not been pregnant.

  3. Oh, and I had pregnancy portraits taken when I was about 5 months pregnant, knowing I’d probably not be pregnant again, and it was hugely rewarding! I hope my daughter someday enjoys looking at the photos.

    • Tara
    • March 30th, 2011

    Fun post! Great pictures!

  1. March 25th, 2011
    Trackback from : Lovely Links: 3/25/11

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