Saturday, July 28, 2012

Does This Judgment Make Me Look Pretty?

Copyright JSH 2006
It seems every few months I am writing something about how mothers judge one another. We judge one another for breastfeeding with or without covers, for screaming in birth, for not feeling happy with our birth experience and so on. Once your pregnant, everything is left up to be judged by everyone else. My newest peeve? Judging mothers who do not look pretty enough in their birth photos. Oh yes, you read that right. I've seen enough of this behavior to inspire a blog post about it.

In case you weren't aware, you can actually look too fugly in your birth photos. Not only that, but the type of birth you have dictates how gorgeous you will look in your pictures. Hospital birth with an IV, Pitocin and an epidural? Hideous troll. Elective c-section? Hideous troll with devil horns. Natural hospital birth? Moderately attractive, but with some drool on your cheek. Homebirth? Divine angel Goddess, glowing like all the stars in the night sky and sprinkled with a bit of faery dust direct from the Supreme Mother Faery Goddess's vulva.

Seriously, I have read way too many comments that go something like this, "Oh, you can totally tell she had a natural birth. She looks so peaceful and beautiful. That's the way it's supposed to look." Or, "There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who has had a natural birth at home." Are we fucking serious? Have we gotten bored enough with judging one another with every other aspect of pregnancy that we now have to move on to our looks? I have read, in horror, as other mothers pipe up to defend themselves for not looking serene and beautiful enough in their birth photos. "I don't have any photos like that. I was a last minute transfer that ended in a c-section. I was exhausted, blotchy and my eyes were puffy from crying about needing surgery." Some mothers have lamented that they do not have the glossy, soft-lit black and white photos of themselves birthin' a human in their kitchen that will get shared on several birthy Facebook pages. Others say they looked and felt great after birth, but they didn't get a chance to take photos because they were in the hospital and staff was in the way yadda yadda. And then others just plain feel the need to defend their birth choices no matter how they look due to the implication that it's only the natural birthing mamas who look gorgeous. Come on! With all that we feel the need to defend we are now adding birth glamour shots into the equation? Give me a fucking break. I hate that I've read comments from so many mothers who feel the need to justify why they don't have a share-worthy glorious birth photo. How incredibly sad. Have I mentioned that it's sad yet?

Our birth experience doesn't define how acceptably beautiful we are. Let me tell you this - one of the most beautiful birth photographs I have seen is of my friend. She looks like her gorgeous self. She is glowing and full of joyous anticipation in her eyes. She has that serene Goddess look that's super duper important. If I tell you the description of the picture, do you automatically assume it's a natural birth at home? Well, some people do. I have asked in several forums and that's the most popular guess.  It wasn't. She was strapped to a table, pumped full of meds and fluids, wearing a surgical cap and having a c-section to bring forth her twins. She was beautiful and it had nothing to do with how she was giving birth. Your beauty is not defined by your birth experience.

All women are beautiful when they give birth. It doesn't matter if you are loaded on pitocin, and epidural, demerol and hooked to bags of fluids. It doesn't matter if you are home, in a hospital, at a birth center or in the middle of the ocean with Flipper and his dolphin friends swimming circles around you. It doesn't matter if your baby is being cut from your belly or is sliding out of your vagina. Nor does it matter if your hair is perfectly in place, your make-up perfect and your skin flawless. Doesn't matter if your eyes are blood shot, the capillaries in your nose are broken and your sweaty head of hair is held up in a haphazard ponytail with a scrunchy from 1992 while you're wearing a neon yellow bra with a ketchup stain on it. Wherever and with whoever you bring your baby in the world, you are a beautiful woman. Goddesses give birth at home, in the hospital, with help and without it. They hypnotize themselves, they dance their babies out or they get epidurals. Some Goddesses get their babies cut out of them. The point is, every experience is beautiful, even if it's not what you planned. You are beautiful in your birth and your mothering and don't let anyone tell you any differently.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said. It's sad how we women feel the need to judge each other over verything. I used to think it would end after high school, but appearantly we never really grow up. ALL mothers are beautiful, and deserve to be respected!

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