Pre-baby photos all the rage latelyIs taking photographs during pregnancy a once, or perhaps twice, in a lifetime opportunity to save a memory? Many Korean women say it is, and the number of Korean women who have photographs of their pregnant bellies seems to be increasing.
Two years ago, pregnancy photographs of Korean celebrities became highly publicized through the local media and this led to a boom in taking such photos. According to BabyU studio in southern Seoul, it has at least one customer a week taking such photos.
“The memory of my first pregnancy did not last that long. After giving birth to my first child, there was nothing to commemorate the time of my pregnancy,” said Choi Yoo-jin, 35, explaining why she had her pregnancy photographed.
“Many years later, I can look at the pictures and say to myself, ‘my belly was so full then.’ Besides that it is something that you can enjoy only while you are pregnant,” Ms. Choi said.
“I wasn’t sure if I would have one child or two, but I wanted to retain that image of myself,” said Bae Geun-ah, 29, whose baby is due in March. “I can show my child the pictures when he or she is older.”
Photo studios often offer package deals. Mothers can take only their pregnancy photos, or include the baby’s pictures at different time periods, such as the time of birth, 100 days after the birth and the child’s first birthday. The price can range from 500,000 won ($510) to 2 million won for 20 to 50 photos. Some studios give away a small number of pregnancy photos for free to attract customers for baby photographs in the future.
The photos are usually taken when in the eighth or ninth month of the pregnancy. In some pictures, the mother is wearing a tight sweater, comfortably sitting on a sofa and cradling their belly. In others, the belly is fully exposed as if they are showing it off.
“Becoming a mother is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide,” said May Kim, a mother and the proprietor of Studio May in Mapo district. “The social atmosphere has changed.”
“Most families have just one child or a maximum of two children. Mothers these days want to look pretty even when they are pregnant,” said Gil Sun-young, an employee of BabyU.
“After looking at the pictures, I thought even pregnant women could look great,” Ms. Choi said.
“These days pregnant women do not necessarily wear baggy clothes,” Ms. Kim said. “Not just in pregnancy photos, but they don’t try to hide their bellies as much as before. They don’t think it is something that they should feel ashamed of.”
“Women are more open about their pregnancy. The age of women giving birth for the first time has been rising, but mothers these days look younger than mothers in the past. They are more appealing.”
“The mothers who take pregnancy photos are those who make an effort to stay attractive. Women who do not take care of themselves don’t take pregnancy photos,” Ms. Kim said.
Ms. Kim also said wearing stretch tight pants with a long sweater on top is popular with pregnant women. Maternity clothing brands like Prenatal and Fe Story are selling tighter clothes than they did in the past.
Some mothers said the photo shoot became a sweet memory.
“It was an unusual experience. I felt that I was taking family photos of my unborn baby,” said Lee Young-jin, 30. “The photographers tried to make me feel confident and kept saying I was pretty.”
“I didn’t feel shy. I was proud of my pregnant belly,” said Chung Hee-jin, 29. “In the beginning, my husband was not happy with the idea of taking pregnancy photos and asked why we should take such pictures,” Ms. Chung said. “He thought it was embarrassing, but after seeing the pictures he was even happier than I was.”
Mothers also said taking pictures helped them feel more confident about being pregnant.
“I used to wear loose-fitting maternity clothes to hide my belly. But after taking the pictures, I feel that my pregnant belly is pretty,” Ms. Bae said.
Ms. Chung said before her pregnancy she always thought that she would not look pretty as a pregnant woman, but after looking at her pictures, she liked them.
Though she is not sure if she will have a second child, she said, “If I am pregnant again, I would want to take pregnancy photos once more.”
by Limb Jae-un
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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