Stars used to keep quiet about their pregnancies, fearing they could ruin their career. Now they are celebrating them and Cardi B is leading the pack
SAD NEWS: I cant see my vagina any more, tweeted the record-breaking superstar rapper Cardi B in June. She had revealed her pregnancy to the public while performing on Saturday Night Live in April. Later, she tweeted that the last month of her pregnancy was hell and, when daughter Kulture was born, opened up about the babys sleeping patterns, her emotions (Im in love and I feel like Im melting), and, then, that she had underestimated the whole mommy thing, cancelling tour dates she had planned for six weeks postpartum. It was unusual to see a pop superstar documenting their experience of pregnancy and early motherhood so publicly. Until recently, pregnancy has been mostly anathema to the pop world.
However, a more positive, accepting attitude has been brewing for a while. In 2011, Beyonc famously announced her pregnancy to the crowd at the MTV Video Music awards, and those watching at home, by flicking open her jacket, rubbing her bump and grinning. In 2017, a floral, veiled image of her kneeling while pregnant with twins received the highest number of Instagram likes of the year.
In the 2000s, the most visible pregnant pop star was MIA, who wore a polka-dotted dress by Henry Holland over her full-term baby bump to the 2009 Grammys. It led bloggers to call her a skanky ho who couldnt wait to get her baby about before getting back in the game! Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and a handful of others were photographed pregnant and Lily Allen sent up industry pressure to get her body back in the video for Hard Out Here (2014). Allen is on an operating table having liposuction. How does anyone let themselves get like this? says her revolted manager. Um, I had two babies? she replies. Her postpartum body is terrifying to him.
Pregnancy in pop in the 20th century is scant. In the 70s and 80s, well, most pop stars were male, but there were a couple of visible examples. In 1972, Diana Ross was photographed pregnant with her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross and in 1976 performed Baby Love while heavily pregnant, bump concealed with feathers. In 1988, Neneh Cherry performed Buffalo Stance on Top of the Pops while eight months pregnant.
Bumps started to appear more regularly in popular culture in the 90s. Demi Moores cover for Vanity Fair in 1991 naked and heavily pregnant but for diamonds was the starting gun. Many were incensed some newstands refused to stock the magazine which suggests that, at the time, the image of the female pregnant body was still taboo. Regardless of complaints, high-profile models and actors posed pregnant for magazine covers in the ensuing decades.
Apart from a few outliers, it took longer for pregnancy to appear in pop. In the late 90s, Melanie Blatt performed with a bump above her trademark baggy trousers. She was on the cover of British GQ in 1998, hands on belly, under the headline: One Sexy Mother.
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