The XX Factor

Photoshopping a Fetus Onto Your Pregnant Stomach Isn’t Just Tacky, It’s Bad for Women

Think before you Photoshop

Shutterstock/Zagibalov Aleksandr

It’s been a good couple of days for pregnant women and media outlets trying to keep up on the latest in baby-making fads. There was the Times Style story on midwives, once the infant-deliverers of choice for the crunchy set, now a must-have accessory for all the stylish moms-to-be. Another Times story heralded  the rise of the birth photographer—a pro who shoots it all, or as much as a crowning woman wants documented, from a hallowed perch/slightly awkward angle in the labor and delivery room. But if you really want to out-pregnant all the rest, the Daily has your trend: Pregnant woman are Photoshopping sonograms onto their naked stomach glamour-shots. (Picture Demi Moore’s famous and oft-repeated Vanity Fair cover pose. Now picture Demi’s smooth and tanned belly with a fetus on it.)

Jezebel’s entirely appropriate reaction to this news was to create a Blingee (def: a blinged out, or bedazzled, personalized image) and call it “kewl fetus.” But apparently others are taking it a little more seriously: A photographer who doctors pregnancy images for her clients tells the Daily that there’s “a debate over whether it is morbid and disgusting or beautiful.” And the age-old “is this art?” argument is currently playing out on a Facebook thread near you.  

It is, of course, dubious to even call this thing on the Internet a trend. But it got us thinking about how the more we treat fetuses like people—including them in our family photo shoots, tagging them on our Facebook walls, giving them their own Twitter accounts—the harder it will be to deny that they are people when the next, say, personhood amendment comes up, with legislators and activists arguing that “the unborn child” inside a pregnant woman’s womb should have the same rights as the living among us.

Of course everyone has the right to celebrate their impending kid however they see fit—we would not have gone the sonogram photoshop route, but perhaps that’s because the 3-D smush face ultrasound printouts we walked out of our OB’s office with always could have been titled, “Ben Franklin on a Very Bad Day.” Still, casually and publicly assigning human attributes to not-yet-human embryos—including an avocado-sized embryo in the family portrait—does not seem like the best way to argue against measures that seek to treat that avocado like a member of our collective American family. Our advice: If you’re not, for instance, OK with the movement to dole out harsher punishments to a woman caught smoking pot if that woman is pregnant, then please don’t go superimposing a blunt onto your sonogram to then Photoshop onto your stomach. That’s just tacky.