Normalizing Mothers

The Shape of a Mother is a  newly renovated blog (still somewhat under construction, so search via the search engine, not tags) that recently made it on to the blog roll (thanks to Jackie!) and  I thought I’d give you all a formal introduction. This blog takes a look at women’s bodies during and after pregnancy to try and dispel the sense that such forms are abnormal, unhealthy, and shameful. It includes contributions from many people looking to post pictures of their post-baby tummies in an effort to foster pride in the many shapes that motherhood can bring.It occurred to me the other day as I was checking it out that many people, including many newly pregnant women, probably never get to see the way women’s bodies change during and after pregnancy, just as many never get to attend a birth before giving birth themselves. Of course the medicalization of birth and stigma around women’s fertility generally contributes to this censorship and accompanying shame. What I find especially interesting, though, is how these women have taken it on themselves to combat a seemingly impossible barrier to acceptance by banding together and sharing photographs, at the same time creating community and diminishing the power of dominant norms within that community.

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3 thoughts on “Normalizing Mothers

  1. Hi Jess,

    Thanks for this post. Yes, embodied maternity is usually represented either as monstrous or (post- the recent celebrity baby boom) impossibly elastic – as if our bodies should be able simply to spring back to their pre-maternal states, notwithstanding the absence (for most) of a personal trainer or nanny.

    It’s difficult, though, to wear stretch marks, saggy boobs, and flabby tummies with pride, given the restrictive norms of feminine beauty. Somewhat more modestly, acceptance and mutual-consolation seems to be what ‘the shape of a mother’ website offers, and perhaps that will contribute to the broadening of expectations feminine embodiment.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Well, acceptance is a good goal too. I just wish, somewhat optimistically, that there could be some pride/joy in there as well, but I realize how that might be difficult. I think you’re right, though, that acceptance of difference might be a good way to start expanding concept of the normal female form.

  3. By the way, the artist(?) is Damien Hirst, an interesting object of inquiry in himself. He is best known for calling dead animals “art” and using other artists to paint and sculpt the work that he designs. His depiction of the virgin mary reflects his preoccupation with science and scientific methods.

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