Thursday, February 7, 2013
a few reasons why I hate "baby bump"
The term is everywhere. It's too late to stop it. But here's why I hate it:
• It's cutesy and cloying. And kind of a throwback to the stork-bringing days of yore.
• It's a sneaky way to comment on women's bodies when we shouldn't. E!Online can't rightly say:
HMM, JESSICA SIMPSON'S BREASTS SEEM SWOLLEN, HER JAWLINE LESS DEFINED, LOOKS LIKE HER FINGERS AND ANKLES HAVE RETAINED SOME WATER WITH PERHAPS SOME PITTING EDEMA IN THE TOPS OF HER FEET, SHE LOOKS PRETTY SWEATY, WE SEE SOME SWAY IN HER BACK AND ALSO MAYBE HER UTERUS HAS DROPPED IN RECENT WEEKS. WONDER WHAT'S GOING ON WITH HER MUCUS PLUG.
But reporting on a bump lets them talk about her body anyhow.
• Calling the enormously complicated process of pregnancy, involving all the systems of the body, a "bump," is reductive to the point of absurdity. And does nothing to help people understand women's reproductive health, which we don't, generally.
• Reducing the acceptable visible signs of pregnancy to a single bump attached to a woman's abdomen increases the sense that there is one norm and that any deviations from that are aberrations. It also allows all those at-home MDs to diagnose "how pregnant" someone is. A pregnant woman with a very big belly is always "very advanced," "heavily pregnant," or "due any day," no matter where they are in their pregnancy. Women with changes in their face or the rest of their body are somehow managing their pregnancy incorrectly, sloppily.
• Calling a pregnancy a bump confirms the simplistic idea that once you've given birth all evidence of it should be gone (physically, emotionally, everything). Remove bump - voila!
• "Bump" has in most medical contexts a somewhat negative connotation. Acne bumps. Razor bumps. Bump on the head. Hematomas. Skin bumps. Not very happy.
• Calling stages of pregnancy "bumps" somehow a woman's sense of autonomy. The baby becomes less hers, less belonging to her. Belongs to the outside world more. Which feels weird and strangely unsafe. Like the baby is more vulnerable.
• Bump-watching provides another way to increase focus on women's bodies. Which we do way too much. Not only that, it increases the focus on women's bellies and abdomens, the part of the body most women are most self-conscious about, and makes it even clearer that protrusions are for pregnancy and naught else.
• It's fekking obnoxious. I mean, cmon. Try to imagine Ingrid Bergman or Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton or Toni Morrison saying "baby bump."
p.s. Case in point: this was also posted today on people.com. I guess bumps are kind of like pet dogs? You can take them with you places on a leash?