Gone are the days of pregnancy being a matronly duty in which pregnant bodies should be covered primly and properly. Thanks to celebrities including the likes of Rihanna, Camila Coehlo, Tammy Hembrow, Ciara, Kylie Jenner, and many others, pregnancy and subsequent motherhood are being redefined in a way that allows women to take back the power and prowess of their transformative figures and miraculous ability to literally create life from life — here’s the kicker — without losing the essence of who they are as people to their new role as mothers.
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Historically, society has encouraged pregnant women to do the “decent” thing by hiding their figures in frumpy maternity clothing, eliciting an air of shame around pregnant bodies. In fact, once a woman becomes pregnant, society instantly devalues her life and overall worth in favor of the growing fetus, oftentimes treating women as nothing more than incubators — The Handmaid’s Tale is hitting a little too close to home these days. If a pregnant woman is doing something for herself rather than for the lone benefit of the fetus (such as dressing in trendy clothing rather than “proper” maternity clothing), she’s shamed for not focusing all efforts and attention on the baby, implying that the mother herself is no longer of importance in any capacity other than growing her child — even though wearing a crop top has literally zero effect on a growing fetus, but go off, Karen.
Society at large strips pregnant women of their personhood, which is incredibly gross, and we’re not the only ones who think so. Cardi B, Maren Morris, and Shay Mitchell are among the ranks of prominent women with massive platforms who have emboldened other pregnant people to shake off society’s stale notion by showing the world that pregnant bodies are powerful, sexy, and worth celebrating through fashion and positive body image just as much as gender reveals and baby showers. Perhaps even more poignantly, these badass muthas are asserting that they don’t need to change who they are or how they present to the world just because they’re carrying a child — and that once their child is born, the same assertion applies. Sure, motherhood is transformative, but it should simply add a new facet to a woman’s being, not change her personality entirely.
Forget shapeless muumuus and unflattering pregnancy pants; instead, these powerful women are donning figure-hugging dresses, string bikinis, belly-baring crop tops, sheer coverups over sexy lingerie, and oversized streetwear — every bit of the style they’re known for pre-pregnancy, just with a playful pop of baby belly. Rihanna stated, like the icon she is, “It’s too much fun to get dressed up. I’m not going to let that part disappear because my body is changing.” And why should she? Pregnancy is an incredibly unique opportunity to grow as a person, not shrink into a shell of who you once were simply because you’re having a child.
Pregnant bodies are stunningly gorgeous — from the glow to the curves, the powerful nine-month transformation brings out the ultimate goddess in women. While society actively pushes the narrative that a woman’s body, pregnant or not, should be for the eyes of their husband only (ew, @ the patriarchy), these fierce and fabulous women are using their platforms to push back. After sharing a pregnancy photo worthy of a million fire emojis, April Love Geary had this to say to a judgmental commenter: “No man owns MY body.”
Nor does anyone else — if a woman wants to show off her nude pregnant figure, that’s her prerogative. If a woman wants to dress up in a figure-hugging dress that puts her pregnant curves on display, that’s her choice. If a woman prefers to dress more modestly during pregnancy because that’s truly what she’s comfortable with, not because of what society says, then that’s her right, too. Society has no claim on any woman’s body, pregnant or not, no matter how wildly and inappropriately the patriarchy tries to assert its control.
This bizarre societal take also extends itself long after a woman has given birth. When women push the tight boundaries of what the public at large considers “proper” mothering, the judgment and shaming continue. However, the weird obsession with chastising mothers who take time for themselves in any capacity has a negative effect on how children view motherhood — it ingrains the idea that their moms can’t be beautiful, powerful, or self-nurturing. Kids should view their mothers as the dynamic, gorgeous, multi-faceted people that they are, not as people bound to the single-minded duty of motherhood that society forcefully portrays. Women can be incredible mothers while wearing crop tops, getting their hair done, and taking an hour to escape in a beach read — all of these things show children that it’s important and absolutely okay to take time for yourself and express who you are.
Pregnancy and motherhood are about growing and nurturing life from your own — there’s nothing on this planet that screams “goddess” more than that. Growing a literal human inside your own body is such a wildly powerful process, and these famous women are relishing that power and the beauty that comes along with it, showing other women that they should too. It’s ironic that in a world that so values the concept of having children, the people who actually go through the lengthy and difficult process of bearing and birthing children are treated with antiquated judgment for owning the power of the goddess-esque natural phenomenon that pregnancy is. Catch me squashing the patriarchy while wearing a Rihanna-inspired outfit during my pregnancy — that is, until the Supreme Court decides to ban that, too.