Rihanna adorns her baby bump like the sacred vessel it is

“I’m hoping we’re able to redefine what’s considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Rihanna celebrates the launch of Fenty Beauty at ULTA Beauty on ...
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It’s long been the norm for pregnant women to be forced into a style doldrum, pigeonholed by maternity lines that cater to comfort before style. And while pregnant women deserve to be as comfortable as they want to, walking past stores that have baby-bumped mannequins draped in loose fabrics and uninspired prints feels like enough to spur a depressive episode in anyone. It begs the question of why we insist on pregnant women wearing clothes pretty much only designed to lay down in. It goes back to the madonna or the whore dichotomy: the historical, societal insistence that a woman can be nurturing or sexual, but not both at the same time. It’s a patriarchal stereotype that seemed inescapable until Rihanna got pregnant, destroying that idea, one belly chain at a time.

Her influence is not lost on her. The notoriously private star has made herself more visible in the months since announcing her pregnancy with boyfriend A$AP Rocky. She’s expressing her joy through bold fashion choices unhindered by society’s perception of what pregnancy should look like. In her new Vogue cover story, she tells editor Chioma Nnadi, “I’m hoping that we were able to redefine what’s considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women. My body is doing incredible things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of that. This time should feel celebratory. Because why should you be hiding your pregnancy.”

As Rihanna has done with her other empires in music, beauty, and fashion, she’s essentially re-writing the entire playbook about the topic — all by just being effortlessly herself. She’s not just celebrating her baby bump; she adorns it like the sacred vessel that it is. “When I found out I was pregnant, I thought to myself, There’s no way I’m going to go shopping in no maternity aisle,” she said. “I’m sorry — it’s too much fun to get dressed up. I’m not going to let that part disappear because my body is changing.” Her pregnancy can forever impact the world of maternity fashion.

Stodgy fashion isn’t the only thing Rihanna eschewed with this pregnancy. She jokes about having a party bus full of her closest friends and family waiting outside the delivery room. But before that day comes, don’t expect her to be having a traditional easter-colored baby shower either. She says of the kind of celebration she wants, “No brunch, no blush tones. And no animal-shaped nothing. ... I mean it’s lit for a lot of people — I’ve even planned a couple of baby showers like that myself — it’s just not right for me. Personally, I want a party. I want everyone to be plastered and crawling out. And it’s got to be co-ed! Don’t put me on no wicker chair somewhere with gifts at my feet where everyone is staring at me.” She and Rocky also won’t be having a problematic gender reveal either (thank goddness). “I asked my doctor: Is something wrong with me for not wanting this? Because people keep asking me. Am I a bad mom? When we’re ready to tell the world, we’ll just tell them.”

Rihanna admitted that she always envisioned that she would be married before becoming a mother, but retorted, “who the fuck says it has to be that way. I’m certainly not gonna let that get in the way of me being a mom.” She dreams of raising her baby at home in Barbados, where she waxes poetic about taking Rocky to meet her family. “What I love the most about us? Transparency with everything: how we’re feeling, what our goals are, what our fears and insecurities are. The vulnerability to be able to say what you feel about each other.”

Members of the Rihanna Navy have anxiously waited for new music since her stellar 2016 album Anti, and while she didn’t give many details as far as sound or release date, it’s still just as much on her mind. “I’m looking at my next project completely differently from the way I had wanted to put it out before. I think this way suits me better, a lot better,” she said. “... It’s authentic, it’ll be fun for me, and it takes a lot of the pressure off.”

There’s no telling when the next album will arrive. But in the meantime, Rihanna has provided something even better: the gift to pregnant women for them to be whoever they want to be while with child.