Being pregnant is hard. Amidst all the crazy physical and hormonal changes, your body becomes something that is difficult to recognize. It can be very vulnerable to watch your body change and expand, and the fact that no two pregnant women look alike makes it hard to maintain realistic expectations about those body changes. In fact, no two pregnancies are alike either, and even the same woman can look dramatically different at the same point in different pregnancies. Additionally, much like with non-pregnant women, the way women’s bodies are portrayed in the media can make people feel bad about themselves. In ads, pregnant women are typically depicted looking like typical models, with just the addition of an adorable bump.
A model named Louise Boyce took to Instagram in February to share the truth that usually the models for maternity clothes aren’t even pregnant. Boyce has two children, and has another on the way. Her Instagram post talked about how unfortunate it is that the industry uses models with fake pregnancy bellies, instead of using real pregnant women.
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17 weeks pregnant and technically on maternity leave 🤷🏼♀️I’m showing too much for my regular clients and check this little fun fact for you - majority of shoots you see for maternity clothing are modelled by non pregnant women wearing fake bumps that tie around their tummy!! Extremely frustrating for actual pregnant models who want to work. Bonkers right?! #MamaStillGotIt #Pregnant #Model #SayNoToFakeBumps #girlgaze
Boyce is hoping that by calling out the industry, they will start to use more realistic depictions of pregnancy. Most women are not aware that the maternity models they see might not actually be pregnant. This can compound the body issues that can come with pregnancy, when you are comparing yourself to not only a model, but one that isn’t even pregnant. This can cause a lot of problems when it comes to people’s expectations of what pregnancy actually looks like. If this idea is coming from seeing depictions of people who aren’t even pregnant, it can be damaging and cause unrealistic expectations.
Boyce is now trying to tackle the industry by asking them to use disclaimers when their models aren’t actually pregnant. She is hoping that in doing so, pregnant women can be saved the distress that might come from comparing themselves to these models. She has started a Change.org petition titled #PushItOut - Honesty in Maternity Advertising, where she talks about the harm that can come from this practice, and encourages transparency when it comes to the models used.
Hopefully retailers will respond with more transparency when it comes to maternity fashion.