I still remember being at the grocery store with my mom and seeing Demi Moore gracing the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991 in the magazine stands at the checkout counter. Despite being a tender age of 7 years old, I remember thinking how beautiful she looked. While it received some backlash from critics, it started a revolution amongst pregnant women and changed the beauty landscape when it came to maternity photography. Many celebrities followed suit, most notably, Cindy Crawford on the cover of W Magazine in 1999 and Claudia Schiffer on Vogue’s cover in 2010.
Many years ago, showing off your baby bump was considered taboo, where maternity clothes were made to be loose in an attempt to hide it. In recent years however, maternity fashion centers around tight clothes to show off a woman’s baby bump and many woman even bare it confidently in a bikini.
If I still vividly remember being in awe of Demi Moore’s Vanity Fair cover from the age of 7, it’s no surprise that I’d embrace my baby bump in all its beauty. I was excited to start showing so I could have fun with maternity fashion. I embraced tight dresses and bikinis, accessorising my pregnant belly in the latter with kimono style cover ups and body jewelry. I shared these looks on my social media and it seems that it didn’t sit well with some of my South Asian peers. While there’s maternity inspiration showing off your bare baby bump everywhere, I realized that it’s not so prevalent in the South Asian community. There seems to be a stigma associated with an Indian woman baring her baby bump for people to see, despite the fact that our traditional clothing otherwise shows off a woman’s bare midriff in saris and lenghas. When I first heard of whispers behind my back about how distasteful my bikini pictures were, I became defensive. I felt the need to justify my decision and then went out to seek approval from my family and friends. Suddenly, embracing my baby bump was being overshadowed by other people’s view of it. Ultimately, the only person’s opinion I cared for was my husband’s, as I believe it’s important to respect each other’s wishes while embracing each other’s differences. My husband is very open minded and in fact, he’s the one who took the pictures, as the doting “Instagram Husband” he is. We didn’t even think twice when I posted pregnant bikini pictures and didn’t even think anyone would mind. I mean, I’ve posted “regular” bikini pictures before, so how is this any different? I went back and forth for a couple of weeks, unsure about the images and thinking I should take them down. Ultimately, I decided that I loved the images, I loved my pregnant body and I loved sharing it for people to see. It didn’t matter if there were people who didn’t appreciate it like I did, because in the end, my body is my temple and how I wish to celebrate it is my prerogative.
After bringing life into this world, I’ve learned that there is no other beauty that is parallel to that of a pregnant woman. To know that a life was growing inside me, I felt empowered in a way I haven’t been before. Although I always strive to be the best version of myself, now that I’m a mother, it’s important that I set a good example. The motivation to do good and be good is greater than ever. It is said, that a human baby is the most dependent mammal of all mammals at infancy. Here you have a life that you created and you are their whole world. You will mold this child into the person they will become and thus the energy he or she will give out into the universe. When you hold your baby for the first time, you are holding the power of life, love, constant growth and learning. And it all began inside of you, a power only a woman can understand.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou
I teamed up with Babies By Banga and The New Delhi Company to portray this power in hopes to end the stigma amongst the South Asian community of baring their baby bump and inspire women to embrace this powerful beauty. We decided to take a contemporary spin on three Hindu Goddesses as Goddesses represent power and beauty. We selected three goddesses – Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Durga – as they represent facets of values a mother would wish to instill in her children and aspects of maternal care giving.
Lakshmi is depicted as kind and forgiving and represents wealth. Her wealth is not limited to material wealth, but also extends to good health, happy family and infinite love.
“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning
Sarasvati is the inspiration for all arts – music, poetry, drama – and well as knowledge – math, science and literature. In Hinduism, artists pray to her before performances and students pray to her before taking a test. She represents all facets of human learning and exploration.
“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” – Oprah
Durga is a warrior goddess and often depicted riding on a lion or tigers, carrying weapons, fighting evil and cleansing one from sin, protecting her loved ones fiercely.
“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” – Barbara Kingsolver
What’s your favourite look? Share in the comments section below!
Now it’s your turn to end the stigma, with one story and picture at a time. Share your beautiful bump with the tag #bumpthestigma.
Photography: Babies by Banga
Outfits and Styling: The New Delhi Company
Beauty: Seher Studio
Jewellery: Banglez Jewelry