Japan has taken the "Baby On Board" trend and backed it up a little - now pregnant women can call attention to their delicate conditions with Maternity Marks.
What's a "Maternity Mark" and why are Japanese women wearing them? The government-sponsored campaign seeks to identify pregnant women so that they can receive special attention when traveling.
It's actually a very thoughtful move, as women especially in the later stages of pregnancy move slower and need more space - a real consideration if you've ever used Japan's trains, planes and buses at peak commuting times.
Though the government has designed its own Maternity Mark graphic, individual cities and provinces are free to promote their own symbols. Here are just a few:
Cynically speaking, the Maternity Mark campaign seems to draw attention to a problem that may not exist to any great degree. Japanese are known for their slim physiques and pregnant women obviously stand out in a crowd. One can also assume that pregnant women who plan to travel will make arrangements in advance to ensure they receive, for example, an aisle seat on an airplane.
The Maternity Mark is the centerpiece of an action plan from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare called "Healthy Parent and Child 21." It's part of an effort to pamper pregnant women - a treasured commodity in a nation whose birthrate is falling like a stone. Other parts of the initiative include promoting healthier, smoke-free workplace environments, and that's a good thing for anyone, pregnant or not. (via Let's Japan)