Before celebrating the new arrivals and gathering the newborn essentials, there comes pregnancy and the topic of baby bumps.
Talking to Vogue after appearing on its May cover, Rihanna said that she was hoping “to redefine what’s considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women”. True, Rihanna has stunned us all with her gorgeous pregnancy pics and glamourous looks.
There’s always been an interest in seeing celebs showing off their bumps, with some of the most-liked photos on Instagram of all time being pregnancy announcements. But it hasn’t always been like this. For many women, pregnancy is a time when they feel insecure about their bodies, and the ‘frumpy dress’ maternity wear stigma has reigned supreme for many years.
ATV Today Lifestyle consulted experts at Nuby UK to bring us some of the bumps that have stood out over the years, examining how body positivity and changing times have altered attitudes towards pregnancy.
Since announcing her pregnancy with partner A$AP Rocky in January this year, Rihanna has become a symbol of reinventing how pregnant women should be seen in public.
Some critics have argued that how she dresses is inappropriate – a.k.a. the very thing that Rihanna is protesting against. But judging by the 18.5 million likes for Rihanna’s first Instagram pregnancy pics and overwhelmingly positive news coverage, it seems like most people are here for her new take on what it means to dress while pregnant.
After the announcement, Pinterest was soon reporting that searches for ‘lace maternity gown’ were up by 40% with people looking to replicate the star’s style.
Through her fashion choices, Rihanna has sparked a wider conversation about how women are perceived at a time when their bodies are changing seemingly every day and they’re feeling more vulnerable about how they look.
No one could forget Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement that became the most-liked photo on Instagram in 2017 with almost 11 million likes.
Crowned with flowers and a green veil, Beyoncé’s pregnancy shoot was both ethereal and natural. It was a celebration to show off the ability of women’s bodies to create life.
Never one to do things by halves, we of course can’t not mention this pop queen’s previous announcement. After a performance of ‘Love on Top’ at the 2011 VMAs, Beyoncé joyfully unbuttoned her jacket to reveal her baby bump while on stage.
Katy Perry famously announced her and long-time partner Orlando Bloom’s pregnancy through her music video for ‘Never Worn White’ in 2020, a song about marriage and eternal love.
Some have suggested pregnancy reveals are being used as marketing opportunities to generate publicity. However, it’s undeniable how this move to big announcements has created an environment of embracing pregnancy rather than hiding it. This is a huge move for famous women especially, who perhaps face more scrutiny than anyone else over their looks and how they dress.
This topic couldn’t be written about without mentioning the woman who arguably started it all.
For centuries, women traditionally concealed their pregnancies, and attitudes towards pregnancy only began to shift in the 1970s to something that should be celebrated.
But in what’s since gone on to be named one of the most influential photos of all time, Demi Moore created a revolutionary moment in 1991 with her naked pregnancy photoshoot for Vanity Fair. In one recent interview, Demi has spoken about how, at the time, she felt it was a statement against how women were expected to behave and look.
What began here is something that has been almost completely normalised in the age of social media – that pregnant women, including celebrities, have way more control over their image. It became normal to feel proud and not ashamed of their bodies.
Some celebs, such as Demi Moore and the others mentioned in this article, prefer a reveal with a fanfare and glamourous photoshoots. Others choose to keep things quiet until after the fact. What these women all have in common is that they’ve done it all on their terms.
It’s not just pregnancies on show, – this movement towards body positivity extends to postpartum bodies as well. Recently, Ashley Graham took to Instagram to upload a series of pics of her body three months after giving birth to twins, proudly showing off her stretch marks.
She has since been praised for her honesty and the images have been widely shared as symbols of empowerment and acceptance for how women’s bodies change before and after birth.
Having these hugely influential women celebrating their bodies has opened up the conversation around body positivity during and after pregnancy – a time that has, in the past, been shrouded by overly large dresses.
No longer are women expected to hide away their pregnancies away; it’s become a way of proudly showing the power of what their bodies are capable of. It’s redefined what’s acceptable and what’s available to wear whilst pregnant, which could also see further steps taken to be more inclusive to trans and non-binary expectant parents.
To finish this article, any parents or parents-to-be currently reading should take another cue from Rihanna’s interview with Vogue:
“My body is doing incredible things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of that.”