There is a bottomless multitude of things that annoy us all about the Daily Fail, from their recent adoption of American spelling to perving on underage girls. But this one has been nagging me for a while – perhaps partly because I’ve also seen it spread like slow-growing warts from the pages of the Fail into other publications. It’s their strict policy of describing pregnant women as if they’re flowers (pregnant men usually evoke a lengthy rant of an article that could be nutshelled with an indignant ‘Uuurgh!’, but that’s another story.) So today I’d like to make and appeal: Could we please, PLEASE stop talking about pregnancy in gardening terminology?
The majority of us know about the birds and the bees. If not, ask your mum, preferably while she’s really concentrating on something else. We also know that in humans, reproduction does not work like it does in plants – perhaps counterintuitively, it’s a hell of a lot seedier.
So why are magazines and newspapers how hell-bent on describing pregnant women as “blooming”, “blossoming” and, of course, “glowing”? The image I get immediately is of pregnancy as a state of being at one with the Chelsea Flower Show. Or perhaps those yellow-stemmed, determined little weeds in the garden that pop up everywhere and your Grandma insists must be systematically eradicated. I imagine that this is not a solution the Fail proposes for the problem of pregnancy “curves”, at least not while the little bundle of joy is still technically inside you. Such drastic measures are reserved for the horror scenario of not having lost the pregnancy weight within 24 hours of giving birth.
So what’s this gardening stuff about? Is it a sweet and traditionalist euphemism to describe pregnancy as something beautiful and delicate, like a flower? Like your favourite misled grandparent, are they just getting a little doddery in their old age alongside their outrageous and awkwardly offensive political views? Somehow, given the Fail’s usual treatment of women, I doubt it very much.
What really gets on my wick more than anything is that this “in full bloom” terminology suggests that pregnancy is the state at which a woman has reached her full potential: she has finally reached her purpose in life. While this might have some arguable truth in strict biological terms, we live in a world that doesn’t boil down to simply what your genitals produce. No, for some reason there is all this stuff about education, getting a job, being nice to people and reading even (God forbid) reading Grazia to fill your time on earth. If pregnancy means that this is the time the woman-dandelion is blooming, it means that before pregnancy she was useless and waiting for some kind soul to come and help her become a real flower – potentially waiting around underground until someone watered her – and post-pregnancy, she’s going to wilt. Squeeze out your replacement and then die. Lovely. This, incidentally, is where the weed-killer comes in.
Also, where does this floral image leave women who, through no fault of their own, can’t have children, or those who – whisper it – decided they don’t want any? It definitely leaves them crowding the soil with their selfish roots, taking away their pollinating counterparts. Their Georgia O’Keeffe vaginas will never part their petals and reveal a bouncing little bundle of joy for the whole human/flower race to celebrate. Hang your head in shame as your leaves dry out, unthinking geranium.
So let’s get this straight once and for all: a woman who becomes pregnant remains a human and does not suddenly turn into a plant. Plant terminology has no place in your uterus, no matter how much it feels like flattery to be told that you are a “blossoming young woman in the prime of her life.” Vom. Can we go back to speculating over whether Miley Cyrus is old enough to legally admit to fancying yet?