The subculture of celebrity pregnancy reveals

Grace Robertson, Staff Writer

Since the controversial-yet-significant Demi Moore 1991 issue of “Vanity Fair,” where she photographed her pregnancy nude on the cover, more celebrities have become comfortable sharing details in their pregnancy — sometimes revealing their pregnancies in similar stunts.

Rihanna recently revealed her second pregnancy with rapper A$AP Rocky during the halftime show performance at Super Bowl LVIII.

Wiley Simmons, a junior environmental science major, spoke about the performance.

“I think it’s cool that no one knew that she was pregnant, so as soon as everyone saw her, they were, like, surprised,” Simmons said.

The rise of celebrities’ openness in pregnancy has led individuals to talk about their impact and how societal norms have changed in the past few decades.

Amanda Respess, a GC mass communication professor, discussed the topic.

“I think it has everything to do with fourth-wave feminism from the ‘90s into the 2000’s, in the fact that we’ve had more and more visible pregnant women and childbearing women,” Respess said.

Lily Butler, a freshman music major, talked about how the performance may have been received if executed 20 or 30 years ago.

“It probably wouldn’t have been a thing that happened,” Butler said. “It would’ve been received very differently.”

Celebrities like Rihanna send a message in their performances that create conversation about gender equality.

“I like that celebrities are modeling so many behaviors that then makes other people in society aware,” said author Renee Cramer. “Your everyday woman can say, ‘I’m gonna do that too.’”

Many celebrities have used their pregnancies as an opportunity to receive sponsorships, increase popularity and venture into new industries.

In 2019, Danielle Brooks, an actress popular for her role as Tasha Jefferson on “Orange is The New Black,” announced her pregnancy in an Instagram post sponsored by Clearblue, a brand that specializes in pregnancy tests, ovulation tests and fertility monitors. Some criticized the post for the decision to profit off of a situation as sensitive as pregnancy.

Respess spoke about the difference between the two announcements and the reaction to Brooks’s post.

“It’s her body,” Respess said. “It’s her pregnancy, and she’s about to put in a ton of work as a mom who’s expecting, so if she wants to partner with Clear Blue and have that partnership, that’s great.”

Cramer’s 2015 book, “Pregnant With the Stars: Watching and Wanting the Celebrity Baby Bump” discusses how women like Beyoncé have pushed back on social control of women’s bodies with their presentations of pregnancy.

In an interview with “The Atlantic,” Cramer discussed some of the reasons celebrities feel the need to share their stories.

“In the last 10 years, as our obsession with celebrity pregnancy has risen, so has other peoples’ obsession with controlling the reproductive capacity of average women, and [Beyoncé’s] image of an empowered Black woman embracing her own autonomy as a reproducing human, I think that resonates with people,” Cramer said.

These choices to share more about pregnancy may have had an impact on how pregnancy is presented.

“I think it helps the everyday woman when a celebrity steps up and makes those boundaries very clear because I think it sets an example for women who may be hesitant to do that, but seeing somebody with that kind of power make those choices, it makes it possible,” Respess said.