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When Rihanna announced her pregnancy, the world seemed to stop as news of potentially the most fashionable celebrity baby yet arrived. The singer-turned-entrepreneur has single-handedly pioneered a new standard for maternity fashion as she has proved that mothers, and by extension, women do not have to adhere to a strict, and arguably, outdated set of rules when it comes to clothing.
Living in a misogynistic and stiflingly puritanical society, women’s bodies and methods of self-expression are often under intense scrutiny as deeply ingrained patriarchal structures have deemed the female form as dangerous and somehow forbidden, despite its life-giving properties. Counterproductive grade school dress codes and arbitrary rules for professional attire have labeled certain bodies as distracting, limiting those who carry children to wearing drab and extremely conservative garments.
Deciding to become a mother often puts child-bearers on an impossible pedestal, rendering them as non-sexual and “pure” beings as dictated by a society that has long viewed women’s bodies as “stumbling blocks,” controlling what we wear to cater to a paradoxical male gaze, that only allows women to be “sexy” when it’s in the name of male consumption and capitalist society.
Rihanna’s seemingly radical yet natural choice to continue being herself throughout her pregnancy has shown women and those who can have children that their sense of self does not disappear with the arrival of a child.
In her interview for May’s issue of Vogue, in which she deservingly graced the cover, the Fenty Beauty mogul says, “When I found out I was pregnant, I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m going shopping in no maternity aisle … it’s too much fun to get dressed up. I’m not going to let that part disappear because my body is changing … my body is doing incredible things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of that.”
Rihanna’s most notable maternity look has to be her all-black lingerie ensemble for Dior’s Fall/Winter 2022 show, where she and her trusted stylist Jahleel Weaver removed the lining of the French brand’s dress, highlighting the singer’s ever-growing stomach. Accentuated with a Savage X Fenty g-string no less, the sultry look set the tone for a new era of maternity fashion, doing away with the moniker altogether and opening up the ways in which mothers can present themselves to the world, take up space, all the while being themselves.
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It seems as though Rihanna’s attitude is either having a trickle-down effect or arriving at an opportune time. Instagram’s It girls are following suit and forgoing ridiculous double standards for purely aesthetic looks as Summer Rachel Warren, a 24-year-old content creator, has proudly been displaying her bump in low-rise skirts and crop tops much like the famed musician. Braving the Coachella crows in opulent rhinestone bras, Warren and Rihanna are amongst the latest trendsetters to redefine the rules of “mommy-appropriate attire,” making it absolutely clear that moms can have it all. There is no reason for expecting parents to stop being themselves as their families grow as children grow to be more confident and self-assured under the tutelage of guardians unapologetically and fully express themselves.