TikTok is back with another absurd beauty standard, after a recent trend captures just how much pregnancy can change the shape and size of an expectant person's nose. Videos showing before and after "pregnancy nose" are stirring the pot online, with commenters left aghast at the drastic cosmetic difference — adding to yet another change the human body goes through when bringing life into the world.
Most of the videos start off with on-screen text with the pregnant person expressing how they can't wait to get pregnant because they're "going to be so cute", then flipping through old selfies pre-baby, before showing what they looked like right before delivering their child — often with grim, exhausted expressions — alongside a larger nose.
Tyreece Gilligan recently went viral for sharing her own throwback shots comparing how her nose changed over the course of her pregnancy with her son Noah. The video, simply captioned "RIP" amassed a million likes and over 8 million views in just a week.
"I couldn't tell the difference at first with my nose, until about the middle of my second trimester when I started not being able to breathe very easy," she tells Refinery29 Australia. Gilligan had noticed some minor swelling in her nose, but put it down to being sick because it was winter at the time and pregnancy was affecting her immune system. "It kind of just got bigger and bigger, and it swelled along with my whole face," she says, which she puts down to this day to the extra blood her body was producing at the time, and the large number of blood vessels in her nose.
"There wasn't really much I could do, the doctor didn't say much about it. I didn't know how much of a difference it had made until I looked back at the pictures and after I gave birth," she reflects. Eventually, she says, her nose went back to its regular size.
In another video posted by user @heyosato in December that has been viewed over 24 million times, commenters jumped on her appearance while pregnant, leaving notes like "jump scare", "new fear unlocked" and calling out for the internet's "pregnancy list" for reasons not to fall pregnant to be updated. The comment section is a mixed bag of people proclaiming themselves to be lucky for not having gone through it during their own pregnancy, people who it did happen to sharing their own experiences and those who have never given birth expressing their complete shock and horror.
So the first thing to know about pregnancy nose is that it's real. The second thing to know, is that it's nothing to be afraid of. Sydney GP and women's health advocate Dr Michela Sorensen explains to Refinery29 Australia that pregnancy affects the whole body largely because of hormones and increased blood flow.
"When it comes to the nose, increased blood flow can result in the nose appearing slightly swollen or puffy. In addition, the lining of the nose can become inflamed, causing increased congestion which can feel similar to hay fever or a cold," she says, explaining that nasal changes are quite common and occur in about 20% of pregnancies.
"Thankfully these changes are not a sign of anything sinister and more just a nuisance."
Dr Michela Sorensen
"The severity varies significantly and can range from a mild sniffle in the morning only, to significant swelling and nasal congestion that is obvious to others," continues Dr Sorensen. "Thankfully, these changes are not a sign of anything sinister and more just a nuisance. The main concern is increased nasal congestion, potentially increasing the chance of developing infections like sinusitis, but this is uncommon."
Dr Sorensen emphasises that any nasal changes are temporary and usually resolve soon after giving birth, with the exact time frame varying from days to weeks. But for anyone who is concerned about their nose during pregnancy, she says that speaking with a trusted medical professional is an important next step.
"Women should be aware that these changes are transient and usually very minor, often others won’t even notice," she says. "Any concerns, however, should always be discussed with their GP or obstetrician, who will be able to provide individualised advice and guidance."
We all know that pregnancy puts people's bodies on the line, with drastic physical changes that can become their new normal long after their baby has left the womb. From swollen legs to deflated breasts, "baby bum" and blue sweat glands, there are a lot of external changes that can potentially occur. Yet the shock and horror that #pregnancynose has conjured is yet another insecurity for pregnant people to worry about when they're already being pushed to the edge, both physically and mentally. It's one thing to go through a change that's out of your control, but another to have millions of people around the world express disgust at it as well, when it's already (incorrectly) drilled into people that weight fluctuations during this time are something to be concerned about.
A lot of beauty-related content, including the recent "vanilla girl" and "clean girl" movements, spark concern about Eurocentric standards and the demonisation of ethnic features. However with pregnancy nose, there has been a notable mix of different racial backgrounds when it comes to the posters sharing their experiences.
While acknowledging that any change to one's body can be jarring, there are still racialised undertones within the pregnancy nose discourse that still idolise smaller noses and subconsciously disparage wider versions, which often belong to ethnic minorities. As TikTok user @lxssnxssie expressed in a video with nearly a million views, the baseline of the concern here is that pregnancy nose bears resemblance to African-American and wider POC nose shapes. "'Pregnancy nose' just looks like a black nose I hate this app," the 22-year-old captions. "Not my natural nose being a TikTok jump scare, bye".