In Defense of the Baby Bump

Now that we have swimmers, I find myself contemplating more seriously the prospect of sporting a baby bump. Yet I have noticed that most of my friends (and Brian too) dislike this phrase. So tonight I write a short defense of the baby bump.

Usually the phrase is applied to celebrities with a gerund like "sporting" or "showing" or even "showing off" -- now before I explain why I think this is a moral good, I'd like you to consider the alternatives:

she is pregnant (like a pause)
she is carrying (like a mule)
she is "with child" (what was she "with" before? Or was she merely "without"?)
she is "expecting" (aren't we all "expecting" something? We do have busy lives, after all...)

Snark aside, the problem with each of these options is the verb to be which serves to define what the woman is.

Metaphors

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.

Sylvia Plath
One of the many things I like about this poem is the fact that its metaphors evolve from oddities like "a melon strolling on two tendrils" to "a means, a stage, a cow in calf" (barely a metaphor at all, just a change in species -- to a domestic beast) -- "a means, a stage," especially make her not a person, but a method, a vessel, a system for the delivery of the desired product. The last metaphor, "I've eaten a bag of green apples, / Boarded the train there's no getting off," is not about what she is, but about something she's done and its consequences and her desires... in other words, in this last moment, she resumes being human again.

From my point of view, the scariest part of making a baby isn't the stretching or the hormones or the 18+ years of work, anguish, disappointment (and I'm sure some good stuff too) that follow; the scary part is that people are likely to forget you're a person.

Which is why I like the phrase baby bump, especially coupled with "sporting" -- the "bump" is not redefining the person; it's merely something she "sports" (more vigorous and less vain than "wears") for several months. She's "being a sport" (possessing an attitude) by lugging around this weight; she is not becoming a beast of burden. She is strong and proud and unashamed.

Which is why I think the introduction of the phrase and concept baby bump is good for all mankind. Why not?

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