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Chapter 7: Maternity Photography and Social Media

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

With the rise of the digital age, society bares witness to an ever changing and ever advancing technological culture. With these technologies comes a new wave of human interaction in the world of social media. Social media has become a platform for all different people from all different walks of life to interact and create a sense of a community, all online. There are forums and online platforms for every area of interest, including maternity photography. Something that was not as prominent a decade ago has become extremely prominent within social media, especially on the Instagram smartphone App. Instagram has become a platform to create community and gain inspiration from others. Through the use of hash tags (those number signs you see in front of various words or sayings) a link is then created where all photos which reference that tag will then come up. Just to show how popular maternity photography is in the realm of Instagram, as of March 2019, there were 1.8 million posts using the hash tag #maternityphotography shared on the app (see image 14). Clearly this number will grow daily as people post more photos. This is also similar for other key words such as “#pregnantbelly” and “#maternityphotos” When you look through the photos posted, most of them are professional photo shoots, with the subjects dressed up with hair and makeup done. However, you do also have your fair share of pregnant selfies and embracing the baby bump reflection mirror photographs as well. Social media has become a platform that offers nonprofessional photographs to flourish alongside their professional counterparts.

Image 14 (Instagram, 2019)

This screenshot was taken in March 2019. It is an image of the Discover page on Instagram displaying the estimated 1.8 Million images that have been posted on Instagram using the hash tag “#Maternityphotography” Many other words and sayings have a similar effect.

Just like in other areas of interest, social media creates a sense of community and togetherness through the photos that are posted. By using a hash tag, a link is created and it is through these links that a sense of community is built and created. By seeing other expectant mothers showing off their baby bumps, a trend starts and other expectant mothers soon will do the same. By sharing these photographs, a community amongst pregnant mothers is created and maintained all around the world but is confined within the realm of social media. Before the large push towards “embracing the bump,” women rarely showed off their pregnant bellies, especially to take photographs nonetheless. Social media can also be used as a diary of sorts. We often see weekly “progress” photos

of expectant mothers and their ever-changing pregnant bodies. What was once shown in medial texts to learn the progression development of a pregnant body (image 15), is now embraced within the realm of social media as something as beautiful as it is (image 16). Women today are flaunting their pregnant bellies more and more and are proud to show off their belly bumps. This change in society’s outlook on the pregnant body is pivotal, “How far we have come. Once, not so long ago, pregnancy was hidden. We dressed to conceal our swelling bodies. We even showed embarrassment. This was a time of ‘confinement’” (Halpin. forward). Through social media, providing the ability to flaunt the pregnant body, the time of confinement is now over.

Image 15 (Matthews, 131) “Pregnancy Progress” images as utilized in medical texts. These images were used to show medically what the progression of pregnancy looks like.

Image 16 (Instagram, 2019) Today, women share “pregnancy progress” photos on social media. There have been over 9K posts shared on Instagram using that hash tag.

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