Sunday, July 13, 2014

All i Did Was Open A box, and Now I, and My Unborn Daughter, Are Viral

When i found out that I was pregnant on February 18, and slowly began breaking the news to friends and family here in Finland, many had the same reaction: "Oh, now you'll get to get the maternity package from Kela!". I had read about the box, and seen some of what my friends had gotten in the boxes they received for their children, but I hadn't put much thought into the whole thing otherwise. After a few months. I was able to apply for it, and it came in the mail in about 10 days.

10 July was a hot day. Though it was cooler than some of the other days that week, I was still uncomfortable. I decided to dress as comfortably as possible, and not even bother with my hair. I had some cleaning to do, but I decided to wait until it was a little cooler in my apartment. The mail came at around 12:30, and inside was a slip notifying me that a package had arrived at my local postal pick-up point. My partner and I went and picked it up right away. When we got back, I asked him to take some pictures of me opening the box, and also of what was inside. I knew that my family and friends back in the US would have no idea what this was, so I wanted to share it with them and them only.

After taking the pictures and putting the box back together, Yki edited the pictures and sent them to me. That's when I first had the idea of sharing them on Reddit. I had seen people make posts about the box before, so I thought that maybe those people would enjoy seeing what came in mine. I had no expectations about how popular the post would be, and popularity wasn't my intention anyway. I wanted to share a part of the Finnish culture that I found unique and wonderful, that's all. This wasn't about me, but Finland.

Within two hours, my post was on the front page of Reddit. My inbox was full of thousands of questions and comments. I tried to answer as many questions as I could about Finland, but it was hard to keep up with how fast replies were coming in. I went to bed about 2 hours later, and when I woke up the next morning, I found myself with dozens of messages from friends telling me that they'd seen me on the front page of Reddit, and also that Buzzfeed had picked up the story. Before I'd gone to bed, I'd received two press requests - one from BabyCenter, a website I've used a lot since finding out I was pregnant, and another from ReshareWorthy. I gave them permission to use the pictures, provided they gave me a name credit. However, Buzzfeed never contacted me at all. I would later be contacted by a Finnish website,, who would write two articles( 1, 2 ) on this topic, as well as a Polish newspaper. As the day went on, I would also find out that used my pictures without my permission, along with the Finnish tabloid Ilta-sanomat. I'm not that upset, although, in the case of Buzzfeed, some of the ad revenue and a photo credit for Yki would have been nice. We do have a child coming and all.

I never expected, nor really wanted, this much attention. However, it seems that over a million people, between Imur, Buzzfeed, and everywhere else, have seen me. There are, of course, both positive and negative sides to going viral. On one hand, people are talking about Finland in a positive way, and many Finns have realized that the maternnity box is something to be quite proud of. The Finnish culture is one of modesty and humility, so it's often very hard to get a Finn to admit when he, or his country, is good at something, let alone be proud of it. On the other hand, I've recieved a lot of hate mail, ranging from people insulting the curtains in my living room, to people calling me fat, to people accusing me of only doing this for attention, to people wishing I'd miscarry my child. I struggle with self-confidence more than I let on, so that level of beratement isn't easy on me. I like to think I have pretty thick skin, but when a woman is already feeling down about her pregnancy weight, and all of the other un-fun body changes that come with being pregnant, the very last thing she wants to hear is how unattractive she is, because she's already well aware, and she's reminded of that every time she looks into her closet and knows her favorite clothes(or, all of her clothes in my case) no longer fit.

What I've found most interesting is that it has only been people outside of Finland insulting me on such a personal level. Not a single comment on any of the Finnish articles have been negative towards me personally. It has, instead, been other Americans, which speaks volumes about the culture in which we come from. But, that's another blog.

The past three days have been interesting, to say the least. They've reminded me of how lucky I am to live in a country as wonderful as Finland, and also reminded me of the power of the internet. I still don't think I am special, or that i did anything special, but if my opening a box gets people to talk about the beautiful culture that I'm now a part of, it's worth all of the effort.


Unknown said...

I think you look gorgeous. I hope your daughter is born happy and healthy and grows to love living in a country where people care about each other instead of tearing each other down. - Wishing I was Finnish

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm polish and I live in scotland. I've learned about your post from polish online press. I can't believe people could say a single bad word about it! I was very happy to read about the box. And today... very surprised your story had such weird twist. People are silly and you really dont owe any explanation to ANYONE! I think you look great and your flat is cool:) I loved to see you have so curious cat and all I was thinking while reading about the box, was "how cool mom she's going to be!" YOU. ARE. GREAT:D:D:D Keep going:)

Salo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salo said...

You should send a bill to Ilta-Sanomat (or just call their customer service). In situations like this they're supposed to ask permission or pay you for the use of photos. Finnish law/custom dictates that if you have to send a bill in a situation like this, you can ask for twice the going rate (which for national paper is rather high).