When I posted the photos online, I had no idea how far the pictures would spread.
But the maternity photos I published with CBC Parents in April went viral.
The response was incredible. The story was picked up by Baby Center, Bustle, Babble, Bloom, Metro Morning, Metro UK, and The Mighty; it caught on beyond North America in Huffpo UK, Daily Mail, The Independent, The Pool, Huffpo France, and EditionF.
What meant the most was the photos being lifted up by others with disabilities, like the incomparably fabulous Mama Cax:
SO IMPORTANT. Thank you and congratulations to @christacouture ——“I Couldn’t Find Any Disability Maternity Photos, So I Made My Own: …..I hope that the next person to do an image search for “disability and pregnancy” finds these photos and feels empowered by them. I hope they know: your difference is powerful, beautiful. And being a parent? You can do it. Go get all glowy with your pregnant self, whatever body you’re in.” ———————————————— I really loved this article featuring Christa. When I talk about representation THIS is what I mean. Not the vain need to see people like you in Magazine but knowing there are people like you doing things or living a life that you are constantly (subliminally or not ) told you can’t. I’m glad there are people out there showing that these things are reachable and just as they are the norm for a handful they should be for all. Imagine more portrayals of woman bosses, trans women, girls in STEM, Black in tech, middle eastern playing a role that’s not a terrorist, big women as the love Interest in your favorite sitcom but also in those steamy sex scenes.(& the list goes on) These images and stories are important they are shaping tomorrow’s society. #mamacax #bionicmommy 📷: @jensquiresphotographer [image description: pregnant woman against white backdrop standing profile with left prosthetic leg closer to the camera. She’s wearing beige pantie and a flowery crop top that matches Her flowery prosthetic thigh.] __________________________________________________________
And seeing it inspire people’s own art forms:
I love the original photograph of @christacouture so much. It’s magical, celebratory; and then all of the beautiful florals✨♥ too much to love. Congratulations lovely 🌷You may have also seen @mamacaxx share this image recently, her caption is powerful and definitely worth a read ♥ . . . #pinkbits #art #illustration #design #feminist #representation #diversity #pastel #yellow #pregnant #prosthetic #floral
I didn’t expect disabled women to write to me saying they wished they’d done the same.
I didn’t expect to be thanked for sharing them.
I didn’t expect the reach at all (and over 1,000 new Instagram followers in a week, whaaa?!).
One amputee living in Mumbai wrote that while she never experienced pregnancy, seeing my photos helped her imagine what it would be like. She was grateful.
Representation really is so incredibly powerful.
I started to joke that it should be no surprise — a woman in her underwear is a proven go-to to get attention. But while sex sells, disabled bodies are kept far from the ubiquitous naked ones and are generally expected to be non-sexual and presented as non-desirable.
I didn’t expect to be thanked for showing disability as sexy.
While I didn’t know how many people with disabilities the photos would reach, they were my target audience. The numbers of non-disabled people engaging with the photos was a surprise.
But I realized: we’re all hungry for diversity in the images we see. And we’re all impacted by the homogeneity of bodies in the media.
Simply beautiful. Thank you for the tag 😁❤😘 Regrann from @hernetworkonline – “There aren’t a ton of one-legged people out there, true, but it wasn’t just that I didn’t see any amputees in maternity photos — I didn’t see any kind of disability. At all. Or really any other body differences. It turns out maternity photo shoots, like the rest of the depictions of women readily available, abound with thin, white bodies. And there’s nothing wrong with those beautiful bodies, but they don’t look like mine.” – “I did a photoshoot near the end of my pregnancy last fall, not just to capture the moment but to try something for the first time — and to hopefully make a dent in poor representation of disabled bodies. The idea took shape over the summer, and when photographer #JenSquires agreed to work on the photos with me, I knew something beautiful would come of it. I’m thrilled with the how the images turned out, even more so now that I have a six-month-old and those days of waiting for her arrival seem like a lifetime ago. I didn’t want the standard preggo-photos; I wanted something that highlighted difference and for the focus to be both normalization and celebration of that difference.” – @ChristaCouture All credits to their respective owner(s): @cbc @christacouture @jensquiresphotographer – #HerNetwork | #Winning18 –
Most people feel their bodies are different, inadequate in some way, and seeing my drastic body difference made even non-disabled people feel included, normalized, and seen.
It’s interesting that most people who saw the photos, all my new Instagram followers, don’t know that I’m a musician (i.e. the thing I have been trying to spread around the world!).
I don’t mind.
The chance to love my body a little harder, and for others to love themselves a little harder too, is worth its weight in gold.