“Incompetent cervix.” “Hostile uterus.” “Inhospitable womb.” While these archaic descriptions might sound like they came from the pages of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, they’re actually among the most common medical terms used to describe aspects of pregnancy and motherhood. That is, until celebrity mom Chrissy Teigen and the Peanut app teamed up.
The story began when Teigen saw a video on Peanut, the social network for moms. In the video, Tricia Bowden of Long Island, N.Y. — who also happens to be a Peanut employee (link below) — says the following:
“So I just got out of my doctor’s office, and he told me as a woman over 35, I’m now considered a ‘geriatric mom.’ And that, if I were to get pregnant, there could be high-risk complications. And I just can’t help but feel really inadequate and guilty right now that I’m lacking as a woman because I decided to pursue the things I love and build my career. It’s really unfortunate that the term ‘geriatric mom’ doesn’t take into account that a woman’s mental health is just as important as her physical health. And I should feel – or, I deserve to feel, hopeful and empowered – and instead I just feel so shitty right now. It sucks.”
Teigen is no stranger to publicly acknowledging her emotions when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood. She posted painful images on social media following the early stillbirth (formerly known as “late miscarriage”) of her son Jack in September 2020, in hopes of shedding light on an experience that many women go through, yet few discuss. Upon seeing Bowden’s video on Peanut, the celebrity reposted the link with her feelings on social media.
This video on the @peanut app 😑😑. This poor woman. Why are terms like ‘geriatric mom’ still being used in 2021? There is so much language that is not only offensive, but undermines women! @peanut what can we do to help? https://t.co/ntC607E5eX— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 14, 2021
Peanut immediately responded, partnered with Teigen, and in March the viral campaign #RenamingRevolution was born. Peanut asked their community to share the outdated, offensive, and hurtful terms that they have experienced first-hand throughout fertility and motherhood. The post garnered over 200,000 interactions.
“A huge reason I have spoken about my personal experiences publicly was the immense need to destigmatize the way we talk about all stages of motherhood,” said Teigen about the partnership.
“When I saw the woman sharing her own story on Peanut, it made me realize so many women everywhere are made to feel shame or undermined, just like I did, and that has got to stop. I’m so hopeful with this new project we are working on and I can’t wait to see real change come from it.”
Below are just a few of the terms submitted by Peanut’s community along with the new suggestions in the glossary:
- Geriatric pregnancy → 35+ pregnancy
- Inhospitable womb → Uterine lining challenges
- Spontaneous abortion → Miscarriage or pregnancy loss
- Failure to progress → Slowed labor
The result was the Motherhood and Fertility Glossary — a comprehensive review of the language used to show support to women. The glossary was developed and informed by an expert panel of doctors, psychologists and linguists, including Dr. Somi Javaid, surgeon, OBGYN and Founder of HerMD.
“Terms like ‘inhospitable womb,’ ‘geriatric pregnancy,’ ‘spontaneous abortion,’ or ‘advanced maternal age’ have traditionally been used to designate a woman’s reproductive standing. However, this terminology is outdated,” said Dr. Javaid in a statement. “The goal with medical terminology should be to educate women and to shift away from blame or hurtful labels. This new glossary will include terms that serve the same purpose while empowering women rather than shaming them.”
“Words matter,” said Peanut Founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy in a statement. “Changing the harmful discourse and verbiage that’s become so normalized as a way to describe women’s bodies is long overdue. Peanut’s glossary is the first step in transforming some of the negatively-charged terms that are too often used during the most sensitive and vulnerable times in women’s lives.”
The glossary can be found below, with printed copies being circulated to clinics and classes as a reference for anyone to use when talking to women about their experiences. You can also request a copy from Peanut.