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Pregnancy

Animal Hats & Cramps (6 and a half weeks)

The photo that I’m talking about in this post isn’t actually in my pregnancy project (Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things); it’s in my Ulterior Monologue project under the title of My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday. I was pregnant at the time though and I had forgotten that I’d written pregnancy related hashtags for it.

The image with the pregnancy related hashtags:

I called the folder ‘Animal Hats & Cramps’.

#ILookSadInThePhotoBecauseIStartedToGetHorrendousCramps
#AndEveryTimeIDoItScaresTheShhhOutOfMe
#IThoughtTheWorstWasHappening
#SoIThoughtIWasPhotographingMyselfWhilstTheWorstWasHappening
#AndIKeptTakingPicturesAsIWasTooScaredToGoToTheBathroomToCheck
#AsEveryTimeIGoToTheBathroomIGetScaredOfWhatIMightFind
#OrWhatMightHappen
#ButAfterAWhileILetOutALotOfAir
#AndItMightHaveJustBeenTrappedWind
#SoIHadALittleLaughToMyself
#ButEveryTimeIGetAPainIThinkTheWorst
#AndOftenItIsTrappedWind
#ButIAmWorriedOneTimeThatItWillNotBe
#AndIDoNotWantToBeRushingToTheDoctorsOrHospitalEvery5Minutes
#IJustDoNotKnowWhatIsNormalYet
#INeedToCalmDownAndTryNotToStressSoMuch
#ThatIsTrue
#ButItIsEasierToSayThanDo
 

And the image with its original Ulterior Monologue hashtags – it shows it in a very different light.

My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday

#IWantedToBuyAHatSoItSavedMeTheHassle
#ThoughIWasThinkingMoreOfAThickKnittedNavyColouredHatOrSomething
#ButThisIsTheKindOfHatIWantToWear #ButWouldNotBuyForMyself
#ButIfMyMumBuysItForMeWhenIAm31ThenItIsOkay #TheOtherDayIWatchedAll4EpisodesOfQueerEyeInJapanAndIWasThinkingIShouldStartDressingMoreBoldlyAgain #ButTheRealityIsIJustWantToBeDressedAllInBluesAndRemainAsInvisibleAsPossible #WhichMightSeemOddConsideringTheKindOfWorkIMake
#WhichIsMainlyPhotographingAndVideoingMyself
#ButIGuessIDoNotWantToBeCompletelyInvisible
#WhichIsPerhapsOneOfTheReasonsWhyIMakeWorkAboutMyself
#AsItIsTherapeuticForMe #ToBecomeMoreComfortableWithMyAppearance #AndNowWithTheseRamblingHashtagsIAmBecomingMoreComfortableWithMyThoughtsAndWords #AndIWantToBeVisibleOnSomeLevel
#ButOnOtherLevelsIWantToBeInvisible
#LikeWalkingDownTheStreet
#IAmNotSayingIAmACelebThankWhateverAbove #ButIMeanJustWalkingDownTheStreetWithoutAnyStrangeLooksOrBeingNoticedAtAllForAnyReasonWhetherItBeGoodOrBad
#IDoNotMindChattingWithRandomPeopleButSometimesIJustWantToBeInMyOwnLittleWorld #AndWalkAlongWithoutHavingToDealWithThingsLikeZebraCrossingsAndOtherAwkwardInteractions #ButAnywaysIHaveNotWornThisHatOutYet #AndIRealiseThatTheHatIsAnAnimalHatWhichIsWhatIMainlyWearInMyDanceVideos #AndIWearAHatInMyDanceVideosBecauseIDoNotLikeHowILookInHats
#AndIWasBulliedForAHatIHadInFirstSchool #SoItIsMyWayOfTryingToOvercomeMyPastExperiencesOfHatsWhichSoundsFunnyButIsTrue #ButIHaveOnlyReallyWornHatsLatelyInMyLivingRoom #SoIWillMakeAnEffortToWearItOutOnTheNextReallyColdDayAsIDoNotWantColdEarsOrAHeadache #IForgotToMentionWhatARidiculousSizeThosePomPomsAre
#MyMumSaidICanCutThemOffButIFeelBad

Ulterior Monologue is the project that I first started to use hashtags with. It was my response to my awkwardness of using hashtags and wanting to use more text with my images, but also feeling awkward about that.

The project was about wanting to be pregnant but not feeling able to talk about it. It started to come to a natural end when I found out I was pregnant, though there was some crossover with my new pregnancy project. I didn’t announce my pregnancy on social media until I was 20 weeks due to feeling worried that something bad would happen and not wanting to ‘curse myself’. It also took me a while to figure out what I was doing project wise and how to go about posting without revealing I was pregnant; in the end I went for the ‘post all the projects I’ve ever done’ archive approach on my Instagram.

I had forgotten about how I felt during this photo, but having never been pregnant before every little pain made me nervous. Pregnancy is thought of as a beautiful time, which it is, but I found it very stressful – even before the pandemic.

I never went to get the cramps checked out. It could have been wind (I think I had forgotten the scenario so I never had to share hashtags about trapped wind, but after having a baby you talk about bodily functions A LOT) or it could have just been my uterus stretching (makes sense as I was growing a baby inside it) or something else.

It is said that a photo says a 1000 words, but I don’t think a picture can tell you everything or even that much sometimes. Maybe a picture just makes you think what you want to think based on your life experiences and personality. Show a picture to 100 people and I wonder what they would all say and how differing the opinions would be about what the image is really about. Obviously it depends on what the image is of – show a picture of a cat and I’m sure there would be a mixed crowd of ‘that’s cute’ and ‘I hate cats’.

These two sets of hashtags really show two different sides to the image and if you only see one set then you miss part of the story. How would you know that I was pregnant and stressing out about cramps just by looking at a picture of me in a hat? It’s true I don’t look happy, but I’m not about to open the can of worms that is ‘why don’t people smile in photos these days?’ Does it really matter though about only knowing part of the story? I’d forgotten half of it myself.

Anyways, I think using hashtags with my work really brings another level to the pictures, though whether people choose to read them or not is their choice.

I love text with photographs and back when I used to go to exhibitions (used to because of Covid) I’d often spend more time reading the accompanying image text rather than looking at an image. I wonder if this will change when I finally go to a show again – will I want to hang around? Will I be able to with a baby anyways? Will I feel comfortable using a public toilet and changing her in one? How will I feel about breastfeeding in public or will I just choose to express and bottle-feed her?

We shall have to wait and see…

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