At first glance, Kim Kardashian West and Alanis Morrisette don’t appear to have much in common. One is a singer-turned-sage advice columnist known for her hit single “Ironic” and one is a reality TV star who doesn’t understand what irony is. But both have joined a growing number of celebrities - and mere mortals - posting pics of their naked, pregnant bodies online.
When I was pregnant with my first child, the very - very - last thing I wanted to do was display my nude self to the masses. Actually, to anyone. I felt massive. My boobs - already a 12D - were somewhere around the G mark by the second trimester (I asked the store assistant in the bra shop to stop looking after we hit a G cup. It was too depressing to go any further). My belly felt full to bursting. I was covered in stretch marks. I was lucky enough to have a relatively healthy pregnancy, but still: I was not about to share my pregnancy body with the world.
It seems I’m among a minority here, because increasingly, women are posting naked (or near naked) pregnancy selfies online (mainly on Instagram). Alanis and Kim K have done it. Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo did it. Bec Judd did it. Olivia Wilde and Chrissy Teigen have done it. Hilary Duff posed with her sister, Haylie, painting a Christmas gift on her revealed baby bump way back in 2011 (she posted it to Twitter, 2011 being the dark ages of Instagram).
I ask celebrity agent Sarah Linsten, of Linsten Morris, for her take on the phenomenon. “It’s a real change,” she says, “because traditionally, celebrities wanted privacy and anonymity. It was church and state; you promoted the film but you didn’t promote your private life.”
While tabloids were the first to exploit the blurred lines between celebrities’ private and professional lives, social media has almost erased the line completely.
“Now,” adds Linsten, who represents the likes of Naomi Watts, Jodi Anasta and Kestie Morassi, “celebrities would rather tell their own stories than have someone else beat them to it.”
She adds that our hunger for 24/7 news (which means stories must constantly be created, even if they’re not necessarily true, well-researched or accurate), plus the often aggressive nature of paparazzi photographers means that now, more than ever, it’s important for celebrities to control the way they’re perceived.
“I’d imagine that for many women, posting their own photos to their own accounts is a way of saying, ‘This is happening to me. I’m happy to share it with you, but it has to be on my terms.’”
It’s what Anne Hathaway did last year, when she caught a photographer snapping a pic of her while pregnant. She was yet to announce the pregnancy, so she quickly took her own pic and uploaded it to her Instagram account, taking back control of her narrative.
And while there’s certainly nothing new about showing off your baby bump - Demi Moore did it way back in 1991 on the cover of Vanity Fair - there is something new about seeing the beauty in pregnant bodies.
Linsten reminds me that just 20 years ago, TV personality Nicky Buckley inadvertently caused a huge scandal when she continued to work as a co-host on Sale of the Century while pregnant. “It’s ridiculous to think that caused such a stir at the time, but it did,” she says. “The idea of even seeing a pregnant woman on TV - people couldn’t handle it. We’ve come a long way since then, and these naked photos reflect that. These women are proud of what their bodies are doing, they’re excited about this new phase of their life. It’s a personal choice and it’s great that we have that choice now.”
As for me, I’m now pregnant with kid number two. At just twelve weeks, I can feel my double chin hitting my F cups (we’re not quite a G yet…) as I walk. Sadly, I’m not one of those pregnant women who feels radiant and glowing - I’m one of those pregnant women who can’t walk past a bakery without buying a chocolate chip cookie and a croissant and maybe just one more cookie to go. I’m still proud of what my body’s doing, but I don’t feel the need to share it with the world. After all, come delivery time, more than enough people will see it - whether I like it or not.