IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Pregnant model calls out fashion industry for using fake bumps in maternity ads

Louise Boyce wants brands to include disclaimers when they use prosthetic bellies in maternity photo shoots.
Louise Boyd
Courtesy of Louise Boyce / @mamastillgotit_/Instagram
/ Source: TODAY

When British model Louise Boyce became pregnant, her phone suddenly stopped ringing.

“17 weeks along and technically on maternity leave,” Boyce began in a February Instagram post. “I’m showing too much for my regular clients.”

The fashion industry veteran then let her followers in on a secret. “Fun fact for you,” Boyce wrote. “Majority of shoots you see for maternity clothing are modelled by non pregnant women wearing fake bumps that tie around their tummy!! Extremely frustrating for actual pregnant models who want to work. Bonkers right?”

Minutes after posting, Boyce, 38, was inundated with emails. “I was absolutely shocked by how many women have no idea they are looking at models who aren’t really pregnant,” Boyce told TODAY Parents. “They are comparing their bellies and their bodies and feeling bad. Some are driven to start dieting, which to me is just heartbreaking.”

Louise Boyd
Courtesy of Louise Boyce

Boyce, who had an eating disorder in the 1990s, knew she had to take action. In May, she began a campaign, asking brands who use prosthetic bumps on their models to use a disclaimer on their websites.

“There needs to be more honesty in maternity advertising,” Boyce told TODAY Parents. “Retailers have to recognize that bumps come in all different shapes and sizes and we gain weight in other places then just our tummies. Your boobs, bum and ankles get bigger too.”

The mom of Basil, 7, and Sonny, 3, is hopeful that companies will start to make changes now that people are starting to speak up. “Look at how the fashion industry has evolved in the last 20 years,” Boyce noted. “You used to not be able to get work if you weren’t a certain size. Now you see women of every shape and color on the cover of magazines and in campaigns. For whatever reason, maternity is stuck in the Dark Ages.”

But some brands are already starting to catch on. In 2018, Storq Maternity replaced every single photo on its website with images of real, unretouched women who are pregnant, postpartum or nursing.

"The idea was to help women relate more naturally with the models on our site and to hopefully make their shopping experience easier because of it," founder Grace Kapin previously told TODAY Style. "When you're pregnant and nursing, your body is unpredictable and seeing people who are going through the same thing as you can be a real lifeline during those times."