When I was pregnant, especially during my second pregnancy, there were two different, warring desires within me. One was to capture, in photographs, this moment, this incredible experience of my growing, nurturing body … knowing this would probably be my last pregnancy.
The other was fear, that if I did go to a photographer they wouldn’t represent me very well. When you’re pregnant, you’re by definition larger than your “usual” figure. Your emotions can be all over the place. Your confidence can suffer too (we all know it shouldn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that it can).
I’m of a generation that was raised to judge ourselves by the way we look. The second desire, to protect myself from a blow to my self-image — that’s the one that won out. I always told myself, if I could have found a photographer that I completely trusted, I would have done this. Someone who I was 100 percent sure wouldn’t judge me. Someone who “got” me.
I say all that because … I love to do maternity photos. I think pregnancy is such a beautiful thing.
Here’s what I think … I think somewhere way back in history men got jealous of what women’s bodies could do: ACTUALLY MAKE MORE PEOPLE!!! And maybe that’s the reason we started getting such pressure to judge our bodies by this or that societal standard … to see them as objects. Objects of desire, maybe — but nonetheless … objects.
There’s a very particular reason I love this photo: because of the crown. Because the image this creates for me is this little girl being born into power! Into knowing her worth and living into her ability.
I am so grateful that we have finally started to claim our power as women … not only in a physical, practical sense of going for jobs that were once forbidden, getting into elected office and other positions of power. But in the sense of knowing our worth.
Queens! There’s a group of women in Mississippi who call themselves the Sweet Potato Queens. If anyone is counter to the prevailing culture, it’s these women! There are all kinds of pageants in Mississippi and there are “Queens” of all kinds of things, including a pageant that crowns a “Sweet Potato Queen” every year (I actually was friends with a Sweet Potato Queen at Governor’s School — she was quite wonderful).
Anyway the Queen of all the Sweet Potato Queens, plural, is an author named Jill Conner Browne whose first book came out about the time I got really, really homesick for Mississippi, and so I picked up a copy, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
And what she said, in that book that she tells her daughter is, “it’s vitally important that you buy your own crown and declare yourself Queen, and spend the rest of your life living into that.”
Since that book first came out in 1999, a lot has changed. Thankfully, more women are living into their Queen status. And my sincere hope is that all the daughters, all the little girls, know exactly how important they are.
Because I’m the mother of boys, and I believe they deserve women who are strong, confident, and live from a position of power.