As I sit here, inhabiting my only lifelong home – my body – which is three years postpartum (is there a statute of limitations on that description? I would argue not. Giving birth qualifies as an epoch in my book) I feel a huge sense of gratitude and admiration for the way that you are living and sharing your pregnancy.
From the collection of barf buckets/roadsides/backstage bathrooms, that you have documented and shared, it’s clear that you are having a bit of a shocker. Hyperemesis gravidarum looks truly brutal and is the sort of train wreck most people prefer to conceal and endure privately (unlike your film Trainwreck, which is awesome). The fact that you are unapologetically removing any filter and laying out the realness, is a glorious thing, and frankly, a public service that all pregnant or future-pregnant women can benefit from.
Back in the ’90s when a seven months pregnant Demi Moore sat in front of Annie Liebowitz’s lens, for that iconic Vanity Fair cover, putting an image of a naked pregnant belly on the front cover of a magazine was considered bold and liberating. The idea that pregnancy is beautiful and not taboo and can be shared in supermarket aisles and dentist waiting rooms, signalled that pregnant women could come out of the shadows, and their tented maternity garbs, and feel proud and beautiful. Sounds like a victory right?
For a time, it was. Until social media, celebrity magazines and Hollywood raised the stakes. A perfectly framed and photoshopped naked bump no longer catches our attention, and now the oneupmanship has escalated the game. Bumps doing headstands in bikinis, bumps decorated with props by world-famous art directors, pregnancy photoshoots with the same production value as an episode of Game of Thrones. Celebrities with beautiful bodies, being chastised by tabloids because their bodies changed when they grew a human inside of it. What are us regular people meant to do with that?
The media broadcasts an unrealistic image of pregnancy and perpetuates a heavy weight of expectation – to look a certain way and ‘cope’ a certain way – and it is becoming insidious and damaging. As I scroll through my feed or make online searches, I see a lot of tidy bumps and perky bottoms, serene (and perhaps a little smug) expressions, and generally a lot of ‘goddess’ vibes. Hey more power to you, out there, if you’re having a blast during your pregnancy and you’ve got all of your wellness and fitness in balance, and your body is responding well, you do you. All I’m saying is, I was not and am not that woman, and I’d like a bit more representation for the knackered, nauseous and a little bit wobbly women, like me.
Enter our sister-in-truth – you – Amy Schumer, a badass comedian, writer, designer, activist and actress. You have sidestepped every cliche in today’s social media pregnancy playbook, and put substance, humour and compassion in its place. You are showing women who are struggling with pregnancy setbacks, discomfort, severe nausea and everything else that goes with it, that they are not, in fact, doing pregnancy wrong.
You are also demonstrating the difficult balance between maintaining your pre-pregnancy and pre-baby values and goals. During your pregnancy you have continued with a national stand up comedy tour, recorded a Netflix special (out on 19th March), launched a clothing line – Le Cloud – and continued your activism for gender rights and equality (including a brief stint in the slammer as a result of protesting the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court). Also, upon medical advice, you have had to cancel the final set of dates of your tour, in favour of rest. Both are awesome.
You are shining a spotlight on the gross and graphic daily experiences of growing a tiny human in your belly. Becoming pregnant is like entering a gambling ring, except you’re not gambling with money, you are gambling with your body and all of your sphincter muscles, which get stress tested when you get pregnant. It’s not always beautiful, when a rogue trickle of pee escapes because you have allergies but can’t take anything for them (because you can’t take any of your normal meds) and then have a sneezing fit, or you developed stretch marks on your knees (true story), but it is real. It is important to talk about that stuff as much as the power and beauty of it all. You are doing this, and whilst it mostly sucks for you, you are making is super entertaining for us. Thanks.
Thank you for this reminder, that our bodies – our homes – which are also home to these tiny tenants, don’t have to take part in the unofficial perfect pregnancy exhibition that is being staged on social media and in the tabloids. And thank you for demonstrating how to own your own narrative and tell the truth, your own way.
Fleur Beach, Co-Founder – Parent Hive