Femininity Suddenly The Taboo Of The Pregnant Body Turned Into A Spectacle That Could Be Stylized Exploited Scrutinized And Interpreted As Emblematic Of A Woman S Overarching Success Or Failure Anne Helen Petersen

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“Suddenly, the taboo of the pregnant body turned into a spectacle that could be stylized, exploited, scrutinized, and interpreted as emblematic of a woman’s overarching success or failure.” —Anne Helen Petersen

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posted by alias anokarina on Friday 28th of April 2017 12:08:53 PM

The attempt to erase pregnant bodies from the public sphere took place alongside women’s increased freedom to control when they became pregnant. In 1965, the Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy when it came to birth control; in 1973, it protected the right to access abortion services in Roe v. Wade; a year later, the court denied a Cleveland school the right to ban a pregnant teacher from continuing to work when the administration “worried that her pregnant body would alternately disgust, concern, fascinate, and embarrass her students.” As legal scholar Renée Ann Cramer points out, these decisions “set the stage for openness to the bump, and pregnancy, that we have today.” The idea that women shouldn’t work while pregnant, after all, is predicated on the fact that women would have some other source of income while absent from the workforce. In many ways, the decision of the court underlined that this was no longer, or could no longer be expected to be, the case. Even after the Supreme Court ruling, pregnant women were largely exempted from having to perform the same sort of femininity and body surveillance that accompanied their non-​pregnant existences — in part because they were not yet considered a lucrative market. Put differently, industries weren’t yet selling the idea of the “cute” pregnancy — or the products to maintain it. There was no maternity yoga; no maternity Spanx. Maternity clothes were largely hideous and/or homemade, making “pregnancy style” an oxymoron: even Princess Diana, whose early 1980s pregnancies were arguably the most visible in history, still dressed in what might best be described as polka-​-dotted baby doll dresses. But the popularization of spandex and Lycra in the 1980s and ’90s changed all that: a fabric that could stretch was one that could be crafted into something (relatively) cute for the growing pregnant body. Before Moore, the paparazzi generally respected the boundaries of the pregnant female celebrity (even Madonna, who’d so willingly embraced public documentation of her body throughout her career, remained largely unphotographed during her first pregnancy). All that changed within the decade — when the combination of digital photography and Us Weekly not only created a market for pregnancy photos, but helped turn “bump watch,” and the cultivation of the “cute pregnancy,” into one of the female celebrity’s primary modes of publicity. Suddenly, the taboo of the pregnant body turned into a spectacle that could be stylized, exploited, scrutinized, and interpreted as emblematic of a woman’s overarching success or failure. —Anne Helen Petersen www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/how-kim-kardashian-pus...

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