- But is this representative of the growing sexualisation of pregnant women?
- Or are these photos simply a new way of celebrating the female form?
The soft lighting bounces off the model’s bare limbs and an opulent fur blanket falls from her shoulders. The carefully placed fur covers the woman’s modesty, while also revealing the full splendour of her body. But this isn’t a glamour shot – it’s the latest way pregnant women are celebrating impending motherhood: ‘baby bump’ photography. The woman in front of the camera is not a model, but Sabrina Tait, a 36-year-old from Leeds who works in sales and is eight months pregnant. ‘I don’t usually like getting pictures taken, but I’d read an article about women who were having pictures taken of their baby bumps and I thought it was a lovely idea,’ says Sabrina.
‘I hadn’t heard of it during my first pregnancy with my son Benjamin, who’s now three, but I wish I had. ‘I’d been through a couple of miscarriages – one before my son and one before falling pregnant with Abigail, now four months old – and it makes you even more grateful that you’re lucky enough to get pregnant. ‘I knew that this pregnancy would be my last and I wanted a record of it.’ So at 37 weeks pregnant, when most women are putting their feet up, after months of battling with swollen joints and stretch marks, Sabrina made her way into a studio to bare all. But why was she doing this?
‘At first I wanted a picture taken with me wearing a white shirt with my tummy on show – I’m very lucky, I didn’t have any stretch marks – but then we started playing around with the brown fur. ‘I felt quite shy initially but then I relaxed. I put on black shorts and a black bra and wrapped myself in the fur so that it covered my modesty,’ says Sabrina, who is engaged to Steven, a fireman. ‘Actually you can’t really see anything and it’s amazing how flattering the pictures are. I think they’re beautiful – elegant, not sexy. My fiancé thinks so too,’ More and more women are having their pregnant bodies captured professionally on camera, as Sabrina has done.
Of course, we can blame the actress Demi Moore for all this. She started the trend in 1991, when she posed naked on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine while seven months pregnant. The photograph was credited with smashing taboos about the pregnant body, which had, until then, remained hidden under tent-style dresses. But now, it’s hard to open a magazine without seeing someone’s bare pregnant tummy – everyone from Cindy Crawford to Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian have exposed their bumps in the pages of various glossy magazines – and ordinary women are following suit.
One specialist photography company, Venture, says it’s seen a 60 per cent increase over the past year in women choosing to have their baby bumps professionally photographed at a cost of £150 for a photoshoot and up to £300 for an album of pictures. Wayne Kahn, one of Venture’s photographers, says many are prepared to bare everything. ‘Women can be shy at first, but the majority will show off their body as long as it’s done tastefully.’ But are these pictures tasteful? Not everybody thinks so. Some critics are concerned they are part of an alarming trend that sexualises pregnancy, putting women under pressure to look attractive and alluring at a time that can be exhausting, but should also be a time of reflection, introspection and preparation.