17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Belly or no belly...that is the question.


When I was pregnant I did a photoshoot. It was a celebration of my fertility. I basically wore fabric wrapped all around my body, covering those parts that should be covered, and leaving the belly exposed. Carrie, being the fashion maven that she is, basically dressed me as if I was one of those dress-forms that we all see on Project Runway. (If you are not watching this show yet, you are TOTALLY missing out).

Anyway, most everyone I showed these photos to, mormon and non-mormon alike, had only positive things to say. A few from the baby boomer generation made comments like: “I guess that is the new thing, to have your belly showing”. Even my Dad who is SO conservative and a Bishop and all that jazz, thought the photos were “fun.”

After getting positive feedback all around, I posted some on my website for ALL to see. Let’s face it, I don’t get an extraordinary amount of hits, and those who do check in are probably all related to me or a professional contact. This brings me to the drama. An extended family member saw the photos on my site and condemned me through an email. “I find it sad that you would remove your garments for the sake of 'art.' I find how you justify what you are doing sad. I find what you have done to our family sad. I find you sad.”

Whoa. I was pretty surprised that she thought A) we had a relationship where she could write an email like that. And B) that she thought it was so dang sad. Good thing I never showed her the naked ones from my first pregnancy. Thoughts anyone?

33 Comments:

  • My grandma had a favorite saying: "To each his own, said the old maid, as she kissed the cow".

    To bad your distant relative felt so free to critisize you- Often I think when people are so critical of others it is more revealing about what is going on inside of them than anything about you...

    That said- What a FABULOUS color red! I wish my preggo belly looked as hot as yours- I took pictures when expecting #1, and I love having them to look back on. I'm tiger-striped with stretch marks now!! (baby #3 on the way)
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/21/2006 08:30:00 AM  



  • Huh. Strange that whoever it was felt so damaged by your belly!

    Is that the photo? It's terribly cute. I've thought about getting belly photos, but somehow never felt comfortable with a total stranger arranging fabric over me -- you're lucky you had a talented friend to do it.
    posted by Blogger Allison at 1/21/2006 08:58:00 AM  



  • yup...that's the photo...and yes it did help to have someone I trusted both in the photographer and in the dresser....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/21/2006 09:22:00 AM  



  • I find it sad that she felt she had a right to judge you.

    If only you didn't have to block your face in the name of anonymity, everyone here could know how truly beautiful the photo really is. But it's gorgeous even with a baby face on it!
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/21/2006 10:18:00 AM  



  • I think this is absolutely gorgeous! I wanted to do pictures like that too. How simply beautiful you look!!!

    That is too bad about your relative. :-(
    posted by Blogger Island Queen at 1/21/2006 01:50:00 PM  



  • When I receive similar comments regarding my tattoos and piercings, I simply remark on how the Prophet and the Lord have told us not to judge and leave it at that, unless they push, then I get snarky. I doubt said busybody, er, relative, would prefer you leave the garments on to be photographed. When you feel like you have the right to point a finger, you have some serious self assesment to do.
    How sad that someone would remove their garments for something as trivial as swimming, or sex. Why remove them for bathing even?
    I, for what it's worth, Loved the picture. It was tastefully, and beautifully, done. It shows the beauty of one of our gifts (our bodies) as it brings into being another of our gifts(children).
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 1/21/2006 01:59:00 PM  



  • Obviously, being the person who draped you, I don't agree with your relative's opinion. I thought the photos turned out absolutely beautiful and were successful in celebrating a woman's pregnant body.

    That being said, when I took belly shots with my first, I didn't really show them to anyone at first. I wasn't ashamed of them, I just knew that some people might not see the same beauty in my bare belly that I saw. Mostly because they would not be able to see past the fact that I wasn't wearing my garments in the picture. People have very differing opinions (and sometimes strong opinions) on when it is appropriate to remove your garments.

    I ended up showing them to a number of close family and friends - including my very conservative mother. She told me that she liked them but I still think she may have disagreed with me getting them taken. What I do know is that she understands my reasons and I understand that they are not universally accepted reasons.

    I guess when you post pictures (or thoughts for that matter) on the worldwide web, you do open yourself up to comments, I just wish your relative could have chosen a better way of communicating her disagreement--a way that would have fostered a nice dicussion where a relationship of mutual respect could have evolved. Lectures and judgement do quite the opposite.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/21/2006 09:19:00 PM  



  • My relative did that to me when they found out that I cook with wine. She gave me the glare and told everybody else that I was evil. She hasn't talked to me since!

    So yeah, come on by some time, and we can have chicken marsala together and take pictures of your belly and bask in our jack-mormonism!
    posted by Blogger Mardell at 1/21/2006 09:42:00 PM  



  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/22/2006 03:21:00 PM  



  • "when people are so critical of others it is more revealing about what is going on inside of them than anything about you"

    Tracy, this is a lesson I am learning right now in other areas as well...thanks for that.

    Marian, there are several in my extended family who like to judge. I am so glad that they are not the ultimate judge.

    Carrie, the way "busybody" communicated to me was like a brick wall. I did grace her with a response even though her original and subsequent comments were like communicating to a brick wall. Imagine if I wasn't wearing my garments at the time and completely inactive...comments like that might have ensured that I never returned to activity. If she were really concerned it might have been quite powerful had she picked up the phone and had an open discussion and maybe the comment/question: "So, how was it for you to decide to do a photo like that...it might have been hard for me b/c I think garments should never be removed for even something like that"
    or something to that affect.
    Another point that I want to make is that there are about 25 other photos on my website, the majority of which have me in modest clothing. Because these are all professional photos, I am not wearing my garments in ANY of them. Someone's job is to ensure that there are not lines in your clothes when being photographed. I often have to change clothes in public. So, would she think that was sad too, that my work requires me to remove them? Would she send an email like that to Steve Young?

    One more thing...I am open to hearing differeing opinions on that, I don't need my CRIB club to all agree with me, healthy discussion/opinions are welcome here. Even the Snarker.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/22/2006 03:23:00 PM  



  • Carrie, I really appreciate your comment and Kage's follow up. I think it can be tough sometimes to fight our human nature to judge, but your comments show that in the end it is what we do with those thoughts (react in a judging way or discuss in a more open or caring manner) that reveals how well we've overcome that specific human limitation!

    Kage, I'll do my best to express it next time I disagree with you. But on this one, I'm standing firmly in your corner.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/22/2006 05:37:00 PM  



  • I work at Wal-mart now. The other day this pregnant girl came in and we were talking about how expensive maternity clothes are and I mentioned the current celebrity craze of being pregnant and wearing shirts that are either skin tight or leave their belly exposed.

    I'm not comfortable with this. I'm used to the smocks or big shirts. I took pictures of my belly with each of my children, but they are private.

    That being said, your picture is beautiful, as was Demi Moore's. However, if you publicize something, ie, post it on a blog, you should be prepared for dissent.

    Your relative has the right to her opinions since she was shown the picture, I feel that gives one a right to an opinion. Maybe she is a bitch, but in this case, if she didn't like, she didn't like it. It's a matter of taste not personal acceptance.

    For instance, if you offered me broccoli and I said no, it's not personal.

    Or maybe I just missed the whole point altogether.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/23/2006 10:10:00 AM  



  • What I'm saying is: is the only acceptable opinion favorable? Are you prepared for dissent in general on your blog?

    Do you want discussion or an audience? Because you know what, I don't have time to cheerlead.

    You accepted everyone's accolades, why didn't you just wear a sign that said, "approval only."
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/23/2006 10:13:00 AM  



  • annegb,

    From the looks of your last comment, I am not sure your read my last comment on this thread or the last paragraph of Kage's last comment on this thread.

    I was trying to let people know that everyone is entitled to thier own opinion but personal attacks are not a very effective way to communicate your opinion. By posting, I really do think Kage was hoping to get some honest people's opinions on the matter to better understand her relative's harsh reaction.

    This blog would be really boring if everyone felt like the only time they could make a comment was if it was favorable to the contributor. We are open to honest discussions--duh, it's a blog. If we wanted to live in our own little private world we would've created a site with a password. We just hope all comments will foster good communication and be respectful to the persons involved.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/23/2006 10:34:00 AM  



  • I honestly think I am going truly senile fast.

    I missed your comment, Carrie. I don't have a grief with pictures like Kage's. I just don't. I hope I get a picture of my daughter's pregnant belly.

    On the other hand, I'd be embarrassed to post a picture of me. Well, not if I looked like Demi, what's the harm if you're beautiful.

    I'm tired, I missed a lot, I jumped to a conclusion. I was excited about this blog and thought, "oh, crap, we have to be all nicey nice and how can I be friends with anybody I can't be honest with?

    I mean, I wouldn't say, "Kage, you look like shit (which you don't, you look beautiful)" or "you hussy" but I want to be able to be free to be myself, too, and express an negative opinion if I have one.

    Which I don't so this is all a word I can't think of and I'm going to go wash my hair and get off this stupid computer.

    Sorry for the trouble.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/23/2006 11:04:00 AM  



  • anngeb, you make me laugh. Glad you're reading us. Pleae come agree or disagree anytime!
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/23/2006 11:37:00 AM  



  • I think pregnant bellys are beautiful and when I am preganant I like to show mine off. Not skin, I mean, but I like to wear tighter shirts that show my preganancy instead of trying to cover it up with loose baggy clothes. I think it looks more flattering on the preganant figure and it is a celebration of life. I think it is fun to take pictures of the exposed belly for postarity, to see how big it really is, and because it is beautiful. I would probablly keep them private though, which I think kage did in putting them on her website where only family and friends go. I am not sure how I feel about having to regularly take off your garments for your job. I am not in a job like that so I havn't given it much thought, but if the clothes you are modeling would cover your garments anyway . . . hmm, I don't know. But it isn't my decision to make and I am sure that it is a personal decision and that there isn't a church opinion on it. Ok there's my two cents. And kage I love the picture and think your daughter will love it too.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 1/23/2006 01:48:00 PM  



  • brandolyn, to clarify. the photos are on a public website. I do use it in my professional world. I don't think it gets hits unless I have told the website to people. The photographer who took them also posts them on his professional website.

    Also, I "work" probably a maximum of 6 days a month, where I am on set and do not wear my garments. It's not like 40 hours a week I am dealing with this. I also try to stick to a rule that I wear them for as long as possible. I wear them to the set and change when I have to.
    I carry underwear with me too. Today for example I had to wear a swimsuit for a brief period of time, and I unexpectedly had to wear a tank top, so I excused myself to change underwear, then after I tried on the top, went right back in the bathroom and put them back on.
    In the theatre I avoid them being seen in changing situations b/c the theatre is not always the most appropriate place to discuss garments and get into all that...not the most reverend. I try to pay respect to them by keeping them out of the picture when I am working.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/23/2006 01:57:00 PM  



  • personally i see no problem with the photo. however, i can understand how your relative could. some people just feel that removing garments for any reason is wrong. there are many levels of orthodoxy, and my guess is that this relative is extremely orthodox. obviously this realitive isn't an artist or performer, or pro athelet either.

    back to your problem with her opinion though, she had every right to tell you how she felt since you opened up the website to be seen. you are doing the same thing here, and there may be people who don't like it either and you will hear about it. and these are people, who, like me, don't even know you.

    so, my best advice is to just let it go and remember that we are all different. just because your rellie doesn't celebrate your naked belly doesn't mean she's a bad person.
    posted by Blogger Aimee "Roo" at 1/23/2006 03:24:00 PM  



  • roo, I actually don't have a problem with her opinion...just the way in which she expressed it. Since we don't really have a relationship and barely an email relationship, I was surprised that she thought it was worth an email. And it didn't seem constructive or loving.

    If the tables were turned and I was saddened by a choice that she made that was public/I knew about, I would have expressed myself but remained open to her POV and maybe tried to understand her. To me her email did not indicate that she cared for me, so I was surprised that she cared about the photo.
    Thanks for your comments roo.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/23/2006 04:44:00 PM  



  • Since it has been brought up, I'm not disagreeing with said relative's opinion, I'm disagreeing with how they chose to present it. Particularly when you delve into the realm of art, opinions and likes will vary widely. But I don't think that it's acceptable to be so judgmental and condescending. To essentially tell someone that they are unworthy and unfaithful is likely one of the worst possible ways to voice your disagreement.
    I have no arguement with people simply because they disagree, I have an argument with people when they are rude about it.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 1/23/2006 05:17:00 PM  



  • Okay, I can't contain myself, and I have to make some comments...

    My Grandmother believes that you shouldn't take your garments off for ANYTHING. Sex, bathing, whatever, they stay on. Don't ask me how she was able to have 4 kids and bathe everyday....But then again, she is 85 and the youngest of 11. So that would put her being raised by parents raised during the Brigham Young era....Bathing and sex!??!!? It still makes me laugh...

    Pregnant women are beautiful. I even feel beautiful (although I resemble a slightly overweight cow --seriously, it's not that far off) when I'm pregnant.

    I hate pregnant women in bikinies. Large veins and stretch marks with friggin' huge breasts just don't do it for me. Plus, I don't get why mothers, who are about to have a child ripped from their loins would want to appear sexy rather than matronly. Where's the respect?

    With that said, I think those pictures that women take of themselves pregnant (like yours, kage) can be very beautiful and fun to see. I love looking at snapshots of me pregnant. I just don't see why women think they have to be "all out there" in public. Photos, nice. Public, ewww.

    (P.S. I'm talking naked bellies when I say "all out there"...nicely dressed bellies are great)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/23/2006 07:55:00 PM  



  • I may be a little late in commenting on this blog, but I'm new to bloggin and it takes time for me to get my thoughts together. First, let me say that I think the picture is beautiful. Your "draper" did a great job. I may be a little biased because she is my little sister. I remember my reaction when Carrie posted her belly pictures (I think on our family website) was envy that God gave her a size 2 body that looked gorgeous even when she was pregnant and I run 5 miles a day to stay a size 12. Life isn't fair.

    Here is my suggestion on how to deal with comments that come our way that may be offensive or judgmental.

    When I taught at an elementary school I often had children come to me saying "Suzy said I'm stupid" or "Joey says I stink." My response to them would be "Well, are you? (or do you?) Cause if you are, then you should be glad that someone pointed it out to you so you can do something about it. If you're not, then don't worry about it, they are probably having a bad day." I think this works for adults as well. Criticism that comes our way can be a be a good time for self examination to see if improvements can be made. If after examination, we feel we are doing the best we can - then great. Assume the person giving the criticism is dealing with life from a different perspective or maybe just having a bad day. We can never change other people's actions - but we can change how we respond to them.
    posted by Blogger kathi at 1/24/2006 09:22:00 AM  



  • kathi, what an awesome perspective. I need to write that down and post it somewhere where I will see it often to remind me of it.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/24/2006 10:43:00 AM  



  • Glad you stopped by sis. It's good for us "newbie" moms need to hear comments from women like you who have a few more years under your belt. I'm not saying you're old, but your years have given you experience and your experience has given you wisdom.

    Thanks and I look forward to more comments!
    (p.s. I have never been a size 2, but thanks for the compliment and when it comes to physical fitness, you blow me out of the water!)
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/24/2006 03:22:00 PM  



  • I think it's beautiful. Nothing other than beautiful.
    posted by Blogger mom on a wire at 1/25/2006 06:40:00 PM  



  • Love the belly, love the dress, love it love it love it. Screw the naysayers, chin up and keep going.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/25/2006 09:40:00 PM  



  • Thanks for all the comments. I heart bellies.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/26/2006 02:42:00 PM  



  • I think I saw a show about you on the Discovery Channel. I had a hunch you were LDS. I was impressed when you said that you were praying about having another baby and just knew it was the right time (for your second one). I love the pics of your pregnant belly. I'm pregnant with my third and sick as a dog. If I ever get to stop throwing up and gain some weight, I'd like to do some pics like these as well. Cheers to motherhood!
    posted by Blogger meggamom at 2/02/2006 02:53:00 PM  



  • I know this is 2 seasons too late, but I'm not a "cribbie" and if it weren't for the snarkernacle I'd have never seen this. Great picture!

    When it comes to a relative sending letters like that, you can always send a card back that is "accidentally" stuffed in the wrong envelope. Something to the effect of:

    Dear (random relative),

    Thank you for the wonderful comments, it really is great to receive so much support from my family. The only negative comment I received was from (distant relative), but that shouldn't surprise anybody. I guess all we can do is continue to pray that she will one day understand, right? Anyway, have to run and get all these cards in the mail - thanks again!
    ---
    Depending upon how dense this relative is, it might have been effective. Or, there is always the more direct approach:

    Dear (distant relative),

    Thank you for your note. Rest assured, I never tell anyone I am related to you. Your reputation, for better or worse, is entirely based upon you. Good luck.
    ---

    I guess I am not one to be overly concerned about distant relatives.
    posted by Anonymous rtswen at 8/09/2006 08:19:00 AM  



  • When our oldest daughter was born we had some extended family criticise us through email for our birthing choices, calling us selfish, irresponsible and childish. So, I know where you're coming from on that email.
    posted by Blogger Kim Siever at 8/10/2006 02:43:00 PM  



  • I am very interested in this topic. i am currently going to school to be a photographer in southern california. I am also recently married. As a convert of only 2 years, I find the temple and garments rather interesting and mysterious. I don't have a perfect knowledge of all the priciples of the gospel but I try to understand the expectations as best i can. I'm aspiring to be a portrait photographer, and want to be a mom so bad. i adore pregnant women, and their bellys! I have studied photographers' work and love maternity shots. I also love naked baby shots. I was thinking from an LDS perspective though, how many people would have a problem with getting shots like those done, and if that may create an uncomfortable situation in the future. I think the photo, KAGE, is extremely modest for a maternity shot. Most women are in bras, strapless bras, or just sheer material wrapped around the breasts. Which tasefully, can be beautiful. I also love the idea of painting the belly like a soccer ball or watermelon. I think motherhood should be celebrated. I have been thinking about this topic for a while now. I'm a convert and come from a different background so being naked is no big deal to me, and i've only been endowed for 7 months so i'm still very comfortable (more comfortable!) without them on, so maybe i'm biased. but i wonder how many women would not feel comfortable with getting shots like these done. I assume when i open my studio, a lot of my work will come from people in the ward. i think its a touchy subject to ask if they want to take their garments off for the shot?...what are your thoughts
    posted by Anonymous desiree at 3/21/2007 04:24:00 PM  



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