The world is loving this model's 'baby roll' photo. And so it should

Model Ashley Graham has become a global champion for body positivity.
Model Ashley Graham has become a global champion for body positivity. Photo: AFP

The world already has 3278 reasons to love curvy model Ashley Graham. And after the past week, it has two more.

Last week, Graham and her husband of nine years, Justin Ervin, announced via Instagram they're expecting their first child. The video showed Graham in a green tank dress with her hair unstyled and not much adornment, except a few necklaces. It was unpolished, seemingly unscripted, and was, I remember thinking at the time, the perfect antidote to the trend of over-stylised "bump announcement" posts on Instagram.

On Monday, Australian time, Graham backed up the announcement with a photo of her naked torso, stretch marks, skin folds and all, with the caption: "Same same but a little different."


same same but a little different

A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham) on

The post received praise from body-positivity advocates including former Victoria's Secret model Lily Aldridge, who walked in New York Fashion Week last year while pregnant.

Some cynics may say that the "imperfection" of Graham's post was, in keeping with her brand of "real beauty", itself highly engineered. But what matters is the end result. I don't think you'd find a woman around the world, pregnant or not, who would feel bad about themselves after seeing it.

Contrast this with some of the other "bump reveals" I have seen lately, which follow a certain formula. Woman in expensive outfit, make-up and hair perfectly done, glowing about how she cannot wait to welcome her bundle of joy to the world.

Of course, I am very happy for the women, including several Australian influencers, who have announced their pregnancies this way. It's a time of joy, and should be celebrated. But I can't help think that these Hollywood-esque, retouched images are out of step with reality and place yet more pressure on women to be "photo ready" at what's widely agreed to be a vulnerable time in their lives.

As someone yet to have children, I asked a colleague who has what she made of the posts. "To be honest I haven't given them much thought. I would never do one, they just feel a bit 'cringey' and over the top to me and yet another commercialisation of a moment in our lives." Each to their own, she said.


And while I, too, subscribe to the "Don't like it? Don't look" approach to Instagram, I can't help feel the more highly-produced pregnancy-reveal photos belong in the same basket as gender reveals and engagements, whose meaning and intimacy have been diluted in the quest to document every part of our lives "perfectly" for Instagram.

Another friend, who is pregnant with her second child, said there are whole Facebook threads devoted to crafting the "perfect" announcement post. "Some women find it empowering but others think it's a pressure we don't need," she said, adding that there's a fear that if couples don't pull off the right post that people will "think I don't love my baby and that I am not excited".

When it comes to celebrity pregnancy announcements, we have had the full spectrum, from the other-worldly, goddess like image of Beyonce announcing her twins in 2017, to the more low-key announcement of Kelly Rowland, who showed a pair of baby sneakers next to her partner's to announce her pregnancy with son Titan.


Can’t wait to meet you🖤

A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham) on

Thankfully, there are some encouraging signs that when it comes to social media, being authentic is becoming more important than being "perfect".

In Australia, Sportsgirl's Be That Girl campaign is also promoting greater "realness" on social media by encouraging young women to post the moments that make them truly happy and not just the heavily-curated "for the 'Gram" images that we have been addicted to, like a drug, for so long.

Perhaps this is why Graham's pregnancy posts have received such widespread praise. Pregnancy, like many of life's stages, is hard. Women don't need hyper-stylised images that only serve to make them feel bad about their bodies, their emotions or their "messiness". Despite being a celebrity worth millions of dollars, Graham's posts are refreshingly relatable. More please.