|Dyanne Brown, MP Staff Writer|
Some questioned why Beyoncé was in a state of undress in front of her daughter. I can remember many times being watched by my mother while she was in the midst of getting ready for an event. It doesn’t seem abnormal to see a mother undressed in front of her own child. Perhaps, what sparked the uncomfortable feelings of viewers is the provocative nature of Beyoncé in her lingerie contrasted against her being in a tender moment as a mother with her child. This leads to a larger question about women’s sexuality and motherhood in general. The old expectation that a woman will become more demure once she becomes a mother seems to have disappeared in favor of a new expectation – mothers can be sexy.
Society sends mixed messages about what is expected from women as mothers. A woman is judged if she doesn’t work hard to lose the weight from her pregnancy, yet that same woman may be considered obsessed if she loses weight too quickly after having the baby. If she’s out for a night, people think she should be home taking care of her baby. If she’s dressed in sexy clothing, her morals are questioned. If she’s dressed comfortably, she may be viewed as frumpy.
More and more celebrities seem to have decided not to let pregnancy or motherhood define their sexiness. In the past, when celebrities were pregnant, you often didn’t see them in the later months of their pregnancy. Now, the media is obsessed with tracking the progression of a celebrity’s pregnancy and their choice in clothing to accommodate their weight gain.
“Maternity clothes” and “sexy” are not usually juxtaposed. For the most part, maternity clothes are generally shapeless and do not accentuate the figure of a pregnant woman. Many celebrities have decided to forgo maternity clothes all together and instead alter designer clothing to fit their expanding frames. Tamar Braxton was praised throughout her pregnancy for being a style magnet. Kerry Washington is currently receiving praise for her daring style choices while pregnant, including a chic Prada crop top ensemble she wore to the SAG Awards this year. Increasingly, it seems that celebrities are finding ways to show that being pregnant doesn’t mean they have to give up their style. They have chosen to maintain their pre-pregnancy style throughout their pregnancy using creative styling, larger sizes and alterations. Celebrity style has the ability to influence the public. There has been a shift in the perception of maternity clothes to a preference for maintaining a sense of style during pregnancy.
This change in perception does have its drawbacks, most notably adding pressure on women to maintain their sexiness during pregnancy and throughout motherhood. A woman’s body changes drastically during pregnancy and after. Not only does she gain weight, but her body’s functionality becomes more about the survival of her child than about attracting a mate. Once the baby arrives, she is more focused on caring for the needs of the child which leads to sleepless nights and exhaustion. If she suffers from post-partum depression, there are even more serious challenges to overcome following pregnancy. A woman faces a severe shift in how she views herself as a mother and how her body reacts and responds. If she’s breastfeeding, her breasts become more about feeding her child than about exciting her husband. “Sexy” may not be the first word that comes to a mother’s mind following pregnancy and into motherhood. This is not because of something imposed by society, but simply a natural progression that happens following such a shift in focus and lifestyle.
Celebrity styling during pregnancy has opened up options for women in general. A woman can choose whether or not she wants to keep her style during pregnancy and throughout motherhood. For many women, it’s more about comfort and confidence than it is about sexiness. If a woman feels more comfortable still being viewed as stylish and sexy through her pregnancy, then she should embrace it. If she feels she should be more modest, then she should wear what makes her feel comfortable. The most important thing is that she feels good about herself so that her family benefits. A woman with the option to be who she wants to be a better mother; she has more love to give when she loves herself.