Evolving message of exposure

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Evolving message of exposure

The author is the head of the global cooperation team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

When news of stars and celebrities’ pregnancy hits, the public is immediately interested in their “pregnancy look.” Barbadian pop singer Rihanna is at the center of attention now. In January, she was first seen pregnant in a photo of her and her boyfriend and rapper A$AP Rocky walking in New York on a snowy day. Her fans around the world, especially women, raved over her pregnancy look.

In the photo, Rihanna was wearing jeans and a long, hot pink parka with her belly exposed. It was a reinterpretation of her flashy and glamorous style with a pregnant body. Since then, the 34-year-old expecting mother has been showing off her belly in her busy schedule filled with the Paris Fashion Week, the Super Bowl, and the Oscar after-party. She is to be featured on the cover of Vogue next month.

On her April 7 article titled, “The Politics of Rihanna’s Pregnancy Style,” the New York Times’ chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote that Rihanna was making a “totally transgressive and highly political statement.” Other media also analyzed that Rihanna’s unconventional move is breaking the convention and uncomfortableness over women and pregnancy.

In an interview, Rihanna said her style was “rebellious,” adding, “I’m not gonna buy maternity pants, jeans, dresses, or [do] whatever society told me to do before.” She said that her body was doing a great thing and she won’t be embarrassed by it.

Starting with actress Demi Moore who posed for the Vanity Fair cover wearing nothing but earrings and a ring during her pregnancy, Britney Spears, Serena Williams, Beyoncé and many others made headlines with photos of them during pregnancy. But they are distinguishable from Rihanna’s style in terms of public perception. During her pregnancy, Rihanna focused on self-expression in order not to lose her identity, and, as a result, she showed breakthrough aesthetics.

Rihanna is a nine-time Grammy Award winner, a successful businessperson and one of the richest female singers, according to Forbes. Her revolutionary style may not be copied by average expectant mothers.

Still, many women have a clear reason for cheering for her reckless choice. She showed her stance against the unspoken convention that no matter how you lived your life before pregnancy, expecting mothers need to become feminine and motherly. It is a moment of vicarious gratification to the women who are physically and psychologically discouraged as they experience pregnancy.
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