My path to motherhood involved two pregnancies that yielded three beautiful, healthy babies… unfortunately I was too clueless during either to capture the momentous occasion in professional maternity pictures.
During my first pregnancy, a friend snapped some casual shots of me in the backyard the weekend before my C-Section. The second time around, I was so exhausted caring for one-year-old twins I forgot to take a single photo of myself pregnant until the morning I left for the hospital when I panicked, grabbed a camera, and asked my mother to take a quick snapshot.
The thought of posing for pregnancy pictures never occurred to me — and as for posing pregnant and nude, no thank you! I’m totally comfortable with my body, but boudoir-style belly shots are not my thing. Apparently, they are Christina Aguilera’s thing.
The singer and mother-to-be recently posed nude for V magazine in a series of pictures best described as soft, tasteful, and trying (sometimes a bit too hard) to be sexy. While Christina’s feminine curves and glowing skin are beautiful, it’s hard to know how much is natural and how much is Photoshop.
The 33-year-old also posed nude for Marie Claire back in 2007 during her first pregnancy, so she’s no stranger to baring it all. In the V feature Aguilera says, “As a woman, I’m proud to embrace my body through all stages of life, staying fearless and confident in surrendering to the unknowns the future has in store.” To that, I say cheers!
Not to be outdone, Glamour magazine published photos of actress and new mom Olivia Wilde in their highly touted September issue. In addition to sporting a Roberto Cavalli feathered dress, Prada wedges, and Lanvin ring, Olivia is accessorized by her baby boy, Otis, who is naked and breastfeeding.
The 30-year-old actress had no qualms about baring her breast and babe for the shoot: “Being shot with Otis is so perfect because any portrait of me right now isn’t complete without my identity as a mother being a part of that. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing. I don’t know, now it feels like Otis should always be on my breast.”
As for how the photo reflects women in general, Wilde said: “It felt like we were capturing that multifaceted woman … that we know we can be. You can be someone who is at once maternal and professional and sexy and self-possessed. [But] I mean, I certainly don’t really look like that when I’m [typically] breastfeeding. And there’s usually a diaper involved.”
After the shoot, Wilde tweeted her gratitude to Glamour for their efforts to change the stigmas associated with nursing in public: “Thanks @glamourmag for knowing there’s nothing indecent about feeding a hungry baby.”
Other celebrity moms from Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr to Hart of Dixie actress Jaime King have jumped on the breastfeeding bandwagon, sharing candid photos with their Twitter fans. King wrote: “#JamesKnight is now 8 months old! These are the moments a mother lives for. Breastfeeding should not be taboo—and bottle feeding should not be judged—it’s ALL fun for the whole family :)”
No celebrity trend would be complete without a Kardashian — or two. Kourtney Kardashian recently posted an Instagram shot of her naked and pregnant silhouette alongside an almost identical shot of her mother, Kris, taken decades earlier. Only the Kardashians could pull off a double exposure like that!
Last but not least, there’s Demi Moore, who pioneered the whole “pregnant and naked” movement with her legendary 1991 Vanity Fair cover. At the time, I admired her guts and gorgeousness, but today I find I have mixed emotions about the number of nude starlets turning up on newsstands, websites, and social media feeds.
As with any celebrity image, these highly stylized and publicized images give real women impossible standards to live up to. We look at Christina and Kourtney and set ourselves up to be that gorgeous while pregnant. We catch a glimpse of Olivia — slim and flawless — and set ourselves up to be that beautiful post-pregnancy. We see a doe-eyed Miranda nursing her baby and set ourselves up to look like that during midnight feedings. All of which is virtually impossible.
We are mere mortals in the mother world. We don’t breastfeed in couture gowns or have a team of stylists on hand. We have stretch marks, saggy boobs, tired eyes, and tousled hair… and we’ll never grace the cover of a national magazine.
Still, I agree with Olivia Wilde who said: “I wasn’t going to sacrifice myself because I was becoming a mother.” In that sense, these photographs are proud, powerful, sexy, and liberating … the ultimate depiction of motherhood. To that I say (or, rather, shout), cheers!