When I was pregnant, my clothing had one main requirement: comfort. I was mostly concerned with what would help support my growing belly on my slight frame, especially toward the end of my pregnancy when I developed symphysis pubic dysfunction (a fancy way of saying that my pelvic joint was unstable and caused me near constant pain whenever I moved). I was fortunate that during the latter half of my pregnancy I was focused on finishing my graduate thesis, thus fashion didn’t factor much into my days spent behind a computer screen or between library book shelves. In fact, my daily uniform of yoga pants, long t-shirts, a puffy vest, and comfy sneakers didn’t seem to phase me or the number of folks I came in contact with.
In retrospect, I consider myself very lucky.
According to The New York Times, one of the newest trends on the red carpet is all about pregnancy. Women are no longer shackled to the notion they need to hide their burgeoning baby bumps. Oh no, in fact, it is now en vogue to proudly display your bump for the masses, swathed in everything from Calvin Klein to Givenchy.
I have no issue whatsoever with women who want to dress up during pregnancy. I had a few fancy occasions to attend while pregnant and it was fun to dress up, though I still adhered to my “it has to be comfortable” rule. I also don’t feel that women should dress to hide their pregnancies either. I rocked a bikini during my pregnancy like no other.
Rather, my issue stems from women feeling that they have to dress a certain way anytime, but especially while pregnant. One woman who has to know what I’m talking about is Kim Kardashian. Not a day goes by when some media outlet doesn’t report on her pregnancy. Yet hardly anybody is asking this mother-to-be how she’s feeling or treating her with a modicum of respect. Instead, they focus on her fashion choices.
Now, to be fair, even before she was pregnant, Kim’s style was heavily scrutinized. She’s always dressed with a certain … flair, and that’s continued throughout her pregnancy. But at what cost? More than once I’ve seen photos of her feet strapped intohigh heels that look like torture devices. While not pregnant they are probably plenty painful, but when dealing with common pregnancy issues like swollen feet and a sore back? Oww!
Kim is obviously free to make her own fashion choices, just as I chose Uggs whenever I could during those long 10 months. And certainly, Kim is under a media microscope the likes of which I will never experience. But something needs to be said for the unspoken focus (and the extremely loud and hugely negative comments) that follows pregnant women in the spotlight, especially when it comes down to how we sartorially present ourselves.
Just look at the attention that Kim received for her floral gown at the Met Gala. Sure, it probably wasn’t the best choice for her (or anyone, really). But designers aren’t exactly shoving stunning red carpet maternity dresses down the runways. Many stars end up modifying regular designs to fit their changing bodies. You would think that while pregnant, celebs would at least get some sort of fashion pass.
If there was ever a time to be a bit more loose with fashion rules, pregnancy is it. Until somebody can design maternity wear that is comfortable and fashionable, I say it’s okay to pass on the shoes that will strap your feet in like mini-corsets. As for Kim, I have no idea why she insists on wearing clothes and shoes that are too tight for her pregnancy body. Does she feel like she needs to keep playing the role of glamorous fashionista until she finally gives birth? (I’m envisioning her laboring in a Dolce & Gabbana hospital gown, complete with puffy epaulettes and a cheetah print sash.) Is Kim succumbing to the pressure of “making pregnancy hot” by wearing some of the more daring (and uncomfortable-looking) outfits she’s ever been photographed in? Or, perhaps, does she genuinely enjoy teetering a pregnant belly around on on six-inch heels and wearing a dress that cuts right into her uterus, thus preventing her from taking full breaths? I’m not too sure, but either way I have not-so-happy feelings about it.
I’m not suggesting pregnant starlets waltz around in muu-muus or yoga pants for nine months. Heavens knows the tabloids would have a field day with that. But they’re already having a field day with Kim and with Jessica Simpson when she was pregnant. Basically any Hollywood woman whose body is outside the size 0 norm is treated like she got “fat” while pregnant. So why not at least allow for just a little comfort?
Avital Norman Nathman blogs at The Mamafesto.