#Headlesspreggos: Challenging Visual Imaginaries of Pregnancy and Reproduction

Article Summary by Alana Cattapan and Danielle Mastromatteo

Images of headless pregnant women—what we call “headless preggos”—are frequently used to illustrate online news content on pregnancy and reproduction. In our article, “#Headlesspreggos: Challenging visual imaginaries of pregnancy and reproduction,” we explore the meaning of these images through our experiences documenting headless preggos on Twitter from 2021 to 2022. During this time, we searched for and documented images of pregnancy and reproduction in news media, tweeting and retweeting headless preggos to highlight their persistent and often troublesome use online.

In the article, we draw on the history of visual representations of pregnancy (especially fetal ultrasounds) to interrogate how these images frame pregnancy as necessarily about the “bump”, minimizing the humanity of the pregnant person and centering all attention on the fetus. We also explore the growing importance of images in search engine optimization, looking to feminist and media studies scholars to identify how the use of a certain kind of image can shape broader understandings of reproductive autonomy. We end with a range of suggestions about how pregnancy and reproduction might be more thoughtfully and carefully depicted online.


Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


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Alana Cattapan is the Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Reproduction, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, and the Director of the Politics of Reproduction Research Group. She is the co-editor of Surrogacy in Canada: Critical Perspectives in Law and Policy (Irwin Law, 2018) and Feministing in Political Science (University of Alberta Press, 2024).

Danielle Mastromatteo is a graduate of Western University who obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science and accounting. Her continued academic interests include social policy, socio-spatial inequalities, and migration.

Twitter: #HeadlessPreggos
Tumblr: https://preggobelly.tumblr.com/

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