True Story: I Was Told I Was Too Pregnant to Model Jewelry

Yes, you read that correctly.  A jewelry company contacted me about modeling in a campaign photoshoot for their line. Since it’s jewelry, it never occurred to me that my small, but growing bump might stand in the way of this opportunity. I was so convinced that my pregnant belly wouldn’t be an issue that when we began discussing the particulars I alerted the brand representative to that fact that I’d be 6 months pregnant by the time of the shoot, and would, therefore, need the following accommodations (in addition to my fee):

  • ready access to a bathroom
  •  a chair if needed
  • and food

I also noted that the proposed date wouldn’t work as it’s Mother’s Day weekend. My proposal was met by the following email:

Too Pregnant to Model Jewelry

I reread the email several times before wondering aloud, “is this even legal?” I’m not a litigious person, of course, but the discriminatory nature of the email was a surprise, to say the least. However, I soon learned that it is, in fact, legal to have specific guidelines in place for freelance workers who will be performing as actors or models. 

Black Mom Blogger Boston Pregnancy
Photo was taken at 16.5 weeks pregnant (a little over 4 months) Sweater: click HERE to buy.  Similar Pants: click HERE to buy. Similar Boots click HERE  or HERE to buy.

Legal or not, I certainly had no interested in even considering working with a company that would so blatantly present my unborn child as a problem for their brand. I told the rep just that in my response:

Too Pregnant to Model Email Response

The brand’s owner responded (please note, the email was edited to remove any mention of the brand name):

“I absolutely do not want anyone thinking that [brand] is a brand that discriminates against anyone, especially other women. It’s one of our goals to be more intentional and inclusive of everyone as we grow as a company. Neither [rep name] nor I have yet had the opportunity to experience pregnancy so please excuse our naivety on the subject. We are hoping to use the photos from the photoshoot we are planning for all of our print marketing material, website images, and a look book. Of course, we would be thrilled to work with and market pictures of beautiful pregnant women wearing our pieces. The reason we thought it might not be the greatest representation in the vast majority of our pictures is because we fear that pregnancy, as an overarching theme through our images, would incorrectly lead potential customers to thinking we are a children’s brand. 
We hope you understand that we would be thrilled to work with you in a similar capacity pregnant or not. We are simply trying to squeeze the most out of our tight budget for the first professional photoshoot we have worked on in a couple of years. 
We are so sorry if anything we have said has upset or offended you and hope you consider working with [brand name] in the future. We will be sure to  continue following your Instagram page as we love all your shots and your incredible style. “
Ultimately, it’s their call and their brand and they have a right to present it how they see fit. I do, however, think it’s important to note that I would have been functioning as both Stylist and Model, so I would have selected fashion pieces that would have done a good job of hiding my bump. Still, if the concealment of my bump in the photos were not enough, any photographer with basic editing skills should be capable of removing the bump post-production. I’m not sure why these options weren’t considered. 
Mid Pregnancy Photoshoot in Boston
Buy Similar Hat HERE. Buy Similar Earrings HERE
What’s even more interesting, however, is that in a country where “pro-life vs. pro-choice” is so heavily debated, we still have issues with normalizing pregnancy and motherhood. Certainly, not all women “carry” the way I do, but whether I’m 3 months pregnant or 9 months pregnant, seeing a pregnant woman in a photoshoot should never have negative consequences for a jewelry brand. But it could. The fact is, pregnancy, for whatever reason, weirds people out. Think about it, when was the last time that you saw a pregnant woman featured in a campaign that didn’t center pregnancy/motherhood? It’s almost as though advertisers have decided that a pregnant body is only good for pregnancy-focused campaigns. And let’s be honest, advertisers follow what we decide based on how we spend our dollars. We’re all a bit to blame. Ultimately,  I believe it is this failure to see pregnant bodies in any and every aspect of life that creates this fear around the process of bringing new life into this world.
Pregnancy Fashion in Boston
Photo was taken at 16.5 weeks pregnant (a little over 4 months) Sweater: click HERE to buy.  Similar Pants: click HERE to buy. Similar Boots click HERE  or HERE to buy.
Frankly, I think we’ll continue to run into these sorts of issues if we, as a culture, aren’t more vigilant in showcasing how very “normal” pregnancy is.  The women making the casting call on this shoot admitted to not having been pregnant and cited this lack of personal familiarity as being the reason they thought it better to not have to deal with my bump at all. Which, of course, leads me to wonder: does one have to experience pregnancy first-hand to understand how very normal it is?  I’m sure this brand isn’t the first or the last to make decisions like this, however, this was my first time experiencing it. And it’s certainly given me a lot to think about.
Black Street Style in Boston
Photo was taken at 16.5 weeks pregnant (a little over 4 months) Sweater: click HERE to buy.  Similar Pants: click HERE to buy. Similar Boots click HERE  or HERE to buy.
To be clear: I’ve got a lot on my plate so I’m not too worried about this missed opportunity. I promise. I’m not even seeing this as a loss. On the contrary, I’m using this as an opportunity to discuss the ways in which pregnancy and motherhood are perceived in American society. Are you weirded out by pregnancy or seeing photos of pregnant women in advertising campaigns? Have you or someone you know experienced something like this?  

Share your thoughts below!


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