Here’s a list of comments we’re completely and utterly over:
“A mum can’t wear that kind of clothes”
“You shouldn’t be wearing that if you’re expecting”
“Have you tried dressing a little more appropriate for your situation?”
Why are we over them? Well, my dear friends, we’re here to inform you that we have been liberated from oppressive and totally unhelpful perspectives on what maternity clothes should look like by one of the popular culture’s knights in shining armour. We are of course talking, about none other than the queen herself: Rihanna.
An icon living if we’ve ever seen one. The singer and entrepreneur had already left her mark on society and culture. Her music has inspired and accompanied generations, not to mention her ever-evolving fashion style, constantly ahead of the curve, always blazing the trail of trends to come. She has now done it again, possibly marking the turning point in the future history of pregnancy clothes. From now on maternity fashion will be divided into two eras, pre Rihanna’s baby bump glory, and post Rihanna’s baby bump glory.
For decades, maternity style has translated into no style. Why?
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, the options available for any woman’s maternity wardrobe were for the most part upsettingly bland. You could count yourself lucky if you could find a decent, stylish, pair of maternity jeans. The philosophy surrounding maternity clothing revolved around hiding the baby bump and drawing as little attention to the mother-to-be as possible. They were after, no longer useful members of society… Right?
We don’t think we’re particularly going out on a limb here if we draw a correlation between pregnancy fashion and society’s tendency to invisibilize pregnant women. There seems to be a general social consensus regarding women’s inability to be just as productive and successful pregnant as any other human being in the world. They’re perceived as inherently fragile and incapable, and while it is true that different stages of pregnancy may come with certain limitations, it really is a matter of case by case basis, and for most of the journey, women are very much strong functioning members of society.
In 2013, Serene Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title while pregnant, Catriona Matthew won the Golf HSBC LFPA Brazil Cup also while pregnant, and Kerri Walsh Jennings went on to casually win an Olympic gold medal while pregnant too. And just before you say, “well Kerri Walsh Jenning was at the super early stage of pregnancy that doesn’t count”, we’ll just remind you that Alysia Montaño ran the 800 meters at the USA Track & Field national while 8 months pregnant. So that’s for anyone out there who doubted what women can do while pregnant, and these are just examples of physical efforts. For God’s sake, Jacinda Ardern ran a country – New Zealand to be precise – while pregnant. If that’s not proof that women can do it all we don’t know what is.
It all stems a bit from that antiquated notion that women need to decide between motherhood and their lives, their careers, their well-being. Once you’re a mum that’s all that you are, that’s the most important thing about your life, so above all, you should look like a mother. So you best stock up on amazing maternity legging options, maxi skirts, and oversized sweatshirts, because that’s what you’re expected to wear. Many will insist that it is due to the imperative need for comfy clothes, but we’re way past having to sacrifice style for the sake of comfort in everyday fashion, so why shouldn’t it be the same for pregnant women?
The new era of maternity clothing celebrates pregnancy rather than hiding it
Up until recently, trendy maternity clothes weren’t a thing, almost as if there was a secret discriminatory policy within the fashion industry, similar to that endured by plus-size women. Thankfully we are in the midst of a cultural shift. A time when a pregnant belly isn’t only celebrated, but also proudly embraced, displayed, and bragged about.
As toxic as celebrity culture can be, it does have an undeniable impact on what’s socially acceptable. Ultimately, a great deal of the visualization of pregnancy in popular culture is due to celebrities and influencers. The way in which public figures have been, essentially creating campaigns around their pregnancy with gorgeous photoshoots, and increasingly creative pregnancy announcements has a lot to do with the shift in the perception of the baby bump. They’ve managed to effectively change how pregnancy is viewed, creating such buzz and hype around it, and showing women out there that there is life during pregnancy. And although oftentimes celebrity culture can be as toxic as toxic can be, in this case, we really couldn’t be happier with regards to what this transformation could mean not just socially and culturally, but specifically for the fashion industry. Just think of the possibility of maternity designs. Maternity runway shows that are actually exciting, and up there, competing with any other high-fashion show. Integrating the baby bump into designs, enhancing the glow of an expecting mother.
From first-time moms to experienced mothers, fashionable maternity clothes might actually be just around the corner. Maternity sections at shops might no longer be filled with plain clothing, but with body-hugging dresses and bold prints. Not that we think there should be no simple clothes for pregnant women, all members of society should have a lazy Sunday outfit at their disposal. We simply believe that soon enough, one won’t need to make a choice between their pregnancy wardrobe and remaining true to themselves. We will be able to find ourselves in maternity designs just the same way we do at any other point during our lives.
Because before being mothers, women are individuals with their own identity, and during and after pregnancy, this remains true. They have the right to express it, in whichever way they see fit, and fashion is no exception.
So here’s to the rise of the baby bump fashion era, may it be long and prosper.