If you are someone who maintains a website, creates marketing materials, presents teaching activities and PowerPoints or uses images in any manner in your work as a birth professional, you are always looking for the most impactful images that best represent your objectives. The right image adds value and usefulness to your work.
There are many characteristics of the right image – it is the right size, the right color, it draws someone in, it clearly demonstrates your point, it is cost effective and you have the right to use the image for your purposes. One of my favorite tasks for teaching and writing is searching for the best image to use. I always save this task for last as a reward or treat for completing my work.
Six years ago when I started in the position of Community Manager for this blog, I learned a very valuable lesson from former contributor and collaborator Walker Ladd, Ph.D. about choosing images. Dr. Ladd suggested to me not to choose images that represented a pregnant person only as a "belly" or "nursing person," but rather to use images that show a pregnant person with a head, limbs, and a body. Once she shared that message, I found I completely agreed. It devalues the experience of pregnancy and birth to show a pregnant person as simply the pregnant belly. So much of research and medicine sees people as a collection of systems and organs and neglects to consider that all those items belong to a real person with emotions and feelings.
A pregnant, birthing or postpartum person is a person with feelings and thoughts. Including images of the whole body helps to remind readers and participants of this fact. In maternity care, sometimes professionals can forget that there is a person associated with that uterus or breast. People may not be treated as respectfully or someone may not direct attention to the person's face but rather to the body part that is being discussed. I think that using disembodied images reinforces this behavior.
I have made a commitment to only using whole body images on this blog, and in my teaching and marketing materials unless it is absolutely impossible. I can understand illustrating the internal anatomy of the breast and not being able to show the entire body in a detailed anatomical drawing. But, for almost all of my graphics needs, I find it is just as easy and more respectful to use as much of the body as possible.
Here are some samples of what doesn't work and what does, in my opinion.
Pregnant. birthing or breastfeeding people are more than the sum of their parts. I feel that I can be a great influence in helping people to recognize that fact simply by the images I choose to use in my work, my teaching, and my business. I admit it can be very hard to find appropriate images when I am illustrating a technical concept. But I provide feedback to illustrators and companies that are responsible for creating these items and I support those companies that are using whole body images with my purchasing dollars.
Here is one of my very favorite set of posters/charts ever that show the entire birthing body and not just a torso. This "Giving Birth – Set of Six Charts" can be ordered from Australia and does a beautiful job of not only showing an entire woman but also not having her lay on her back to birth.
This concept was definitely new to me when Dr. Ladd brought it up to me so many years ago. But I completely agree and work hard to maintain that standard in all I do. Do you have some favorite images that reinforce the idea that a real person is pregnant, giving birth or postpartum? I would love to expand my resources for finding and using such images. What are your thoughts on this topic?