Rihanna’s maternity model is not simply modern. It is revolutionary, consultants say

Rihanna’s maternity model is not simply modern. It is revolutionary, consultants say

Up to date February 14, 2023 at 10:43 AM ET

Rihanna has already been praised for redefining maternity vogue, having rocked crop tops, low-rise pants and lingerie throughout her first being pregnant final yr.

So after the singer-slash-business-mogul-slash-fashion-icon revealed her child bump at Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl halftime present, followers had been fast to share their pleasure — not only for her rising household, however about her future outfits.

Rihanna has described her maternity model as “rebellious,” telling Bustle final yr that she had challenged herself to be inventive and did not wish to purchase maternity garments or do “no matter society informed me to do earlier than.”

“I am hoping that we had been capable of redefine what’s thought-about ‘first rate’ for pregnant ladies,” Rihanna informed Vogue in April. “My physique is doing unimaginable issues proper now, and I am not going to be ashamed of that. This time ought to really feel celebratory. As a result of why must you be hiding your being pregnant?”

And being pregnant No. 2 seems to be off to an analogous begin, on condition that she introduced it in an all-red flight swimsuit/breastplate/puffer coat ensemble whereas suspended on a glass platform excessive within the air.

Rihanna’s affect as an “govt and visible mastermind” makes her being pregnant model “impactful and price discussing,” Solange Franklin, a stylist and marketing consultant, informed NPR through e mail.

“Her unabashed model is a aptitude to the world that claims ‘have a look at me, have a look at us’ and to be seen by yourself phrases is highly effective and thrilling,” Franklin added.

Rihanna is not the primary celeb to point out off her being pregnant, or the one pregnant individual to have worn a mesh high.

However she has a large platform, and design consultants and historians inform NPR that what she’s doing is critical: By difficult society’s long-held notion that pregnant folks ought to costume or look a sure manner, she’s sparking a dialog about their function and rights — and one which advocates hope will result in substantive change.

A quick historical past of maternity vogue

Maternity put on as we all know it has solely been round because the nineteenth century, explains Serena Dyer, a historian of design and materials tradition at De Montfort College in England.

Earlier than that, there wasn’t a transparent distinction between maternity and common vogue, partly as a result of it was the norm for girls to be married and spend quite a lot of their lives pregnant.

Garments had been made to be adaptable, with waistlines and different components that might be added or eliminated as ladies’s sizes modified. (Dyer notes that stays, the precursor to corsets, weren’t really as inflexible as we are likely to suppose these days.)

The nineteenth century noticed the commercialization of vogue and the emergence of distinct maternity garments — in addition to extra “moralizing” round being pregnant as one thing to be hid fairly than celebrated, Dyer explains.

“After which as we go into the twentieth century, it turns into much more commercialized,” she provides. “And the invention of issues like lycra, spandex, elastane permit for these extra particularly form of stretchy maternity clothes which can be separate from the extra form of figure-revealing clothes of a traditional on a regular basis vogue.”

Rihanna and her partner ASAP Rocky pictured at Milan Fashion Week in February 2022.

Victor Boyko / Getty Photographs for Gucci


Getty Photographs for Gucci

Rihanna and her accomplice ASAP Rocky pictured at Milan Style Week in February 2022.

Whereas there was a latest push in direction of extra “fashion-centered” traces, most fashionable maternity put on caters to consolation, Dyer says. In fact, there’s completely nothing incorrect with sticking to stretchy, lose garments throughout being pregnant.

However, she says, there needs to be extra choices for pregnant individuals who wish to present their id by way of vogue — and that goes hand-in-hand with cultural acceptance. Dyer says we’re not fairly there but, however getting nearer as stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna have challenged the idea that pregnant ladies want to decorate modestly.

“We’re seeing extra of a resistance to that and extra ladies eager to have a good time that altering physique, exhibit that altering physique and never essentially really feel like they must cowl themselves up or change who they’re as ladies as a result of they are going by way of this course of,” she provides.

Rihanna is not the primary or solely individual to problem the norm

Rihanna stands on the shoulders of different ladies who’ve fought to make their pregnancies extra seen, says Michelle Millar Fisher, a curator on the Museum of Tremendous Arts in Boston and co-author of Designing Motherhood: Issues that Make and Break Our Births (she additionally leads an artwork and training program by the identical title).

The twentieth century noticed a number of pivotal moments in maternity vogue, she explains.

One in all them got here in 1952, when Lucille Ball satisfied her producers to let her hold performing on I Love Lucy throughout her being pregnant. She used maternity vogue — most notably, the tie-waist skirt — to maintain doing her job, and have become the primary pregnant individual to be seen by a serious TV viewers.

In 1953, Lucille Ball became the first pregnant person to be seen by a major TV audience, in the <em>I Love Lucy</em> show.

CBS Picture Archive / CBS through Getty Photographs


CBS through Getty Photographs

In 1953, Lucille Ball turned the primary pregnant individual to be seen by a serious TV viewers, within the I Love Lucy present.

In 1988, Afro-Swedish singer Neneh Cherry carried out on the BBC sequence Prime of The Pops whereas eight months pregnant.

“And he or she was requested then, ‘Are you going to harm the newborn? Is that this a fear for you?’ And he or she very bluntly and shortly stated, ‘I am not sick. I am simply pregnant. Recover from it, principally,’ ” Fisher says.

A number of years later, a pregnant Demi Moore posed nude for the August 1991 cowl of Vainness Truthful journal, which is taken into account one among photographer Annie Leibovitz’s most iconic and (no less than on the time) controversial shoots.

It helped change cultural perceptions round being pregnant, with Moore reflecting a long time afterward the influence it had on “on our permission to embrace ourselves in a pregnant state.” It additionally popularized the being pregnant photoshoot — although Dyer, the historian, says posing for “being pregnant portraits” was a pattern again within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, earlier than being pregnant turned one thing to cover.

Extra not too long ago, Beyoncé broke the web in 2017 together with her Instagram being pregnant announcement — and Rihanna broke her information with a photoshoot in Jan. 2022 too.

What Rihanna is doing together with her wardrobe is not new, nevertheless it’s on a stage that many non-celebrities cannot entry, says Gabriella Nelson, a member of the Designing Motherhood collective who works in maternal well being coverage.

She says all through her life she’s seen ladies of colour carrying mesh or crop tops whereas pregnant, however getting shamed as an alternative of praised for it. Black ladies have been on the forefront of fashion and innovation for a very long time, she provides.

“Imma stan Rihanna as a result of I can,” Nelson says. “However I’ll additionally stan the ladies … that perhaps won’t ever see a Tremendous Bowl stage or a runway vogue present or be in Vogue or have their names talked about in an article, as a result of I do know that also they are the vanguards of all of this.”

How garments may result in change

The entire consultants interviewed for this story say the purpose is not that pregnant folks ought to all be donning pink bodysuits or striving to decorate like Rihanna (who occurs to be one of many richest ladies on this planet).

It is that pregnant folks — and all folks, actually — ought to really feel snug doing no matter is correct for their very own our bodies.

“Whether or not we’re pregnant or not, whether or not we achieve weight or misplaced weight or had surgical procedure or no matter it’s — nonetheless, our our bodies change — now we have the chance to specific ourselves by way of what we adorn our our bodies with,” Nelson says. “And so I would like people to get that from what Rihanna has performed: Simply be your self. Do what you wish to do, make your individual lane and simply have enjoyable with it.”

And a part of the dialog needs to be about extra than simply vogue, Fisher says.

She want to see the celebration of Rihanna’s being pregnant spark extra dialogue of Black maternal mortality within the U.S. — which spends extra money per capita on healthcare than any developed nation on this planet however has worse maternal and toddler well being outcomes.

The U.S. maternal mortality fee for Black ladies is almost thrice larger than the speed for white ladies. A latest New York Occasions investigation discovered that the chance stays disproportionately larger no matter socioeconomic standing: Even the richest Black moms and their infants are twice as prone to die because the richest white moms and infants.

“It is very simple for us to have a good time these moments when now we have a ‘win’ for with the ability to see being pregnant in public,” Fisher says. “However they’re typically on the expense of actual substantive coverage change and actual understanding of the methods through which it is extremely not simply troublesome, however harmful, to be a birthing individual however particularly a birthing individual of colour in the USA at the moment.”

Substantial adjustments may embrace making medication accessible to extra Black docs, investing extra in doulas and passing a nationwide household depart coverage. Fisher says she’d like it if each time somebody reposted the image of Rihanna’s Tremendous Bowl outfit, they’d embrace a few of these statistics and options too.

“That is what I want to see folks actually get a deal with on,” she says. “As a result of in any other case it is actually simply dressing up the problem in some very fancy garments and not likely attending to the guts of it.”

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see extra, go to https://www.npr.org.


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