Beyoncé’s done it, Kim Kardashian’s done it, so has Demi Moore – and now Amy Schumer has joined the growing roll call of celebrities who, alongside ordinary women, are choosing to ‘bare all’ in a no-holds-barred pregnancy photoshoot. And it is empowering. It really is.
These women should be applauded – it takes a remarkable level of ‘stick-your-middle-finger-up’ body confidence to make like Schumer, who shared snaps on Instagram of herself sprinting stark naked across a park chasing ducks because, as she captioned them, “on a chilly Nola morning it’s best to chase ducks with nothing weighing you down except a baby.”
She’s also pictured standing in a dressing gown in the woods, and gazing off to the side clutching handfuls of grass to her bare breasts, in a hilarious nod to Beyoncé’s ethereal pregnancy poses from 2017: nude, in a garden, sitting on a flower-strewn thrown. Bey even posed underwater.
The snaps were taken as part of a profile for the New York Times, in which the Trainwreck star, 37, who has suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum throughout her pregnancy, making her vomit an estimated “980 times”, said: “As someone who has been told a million times they are fat and ugly, it does not matter!”
And it’s this more serious point that sticks, once the smiles over Schumer’s tongue-in-cheek pics have faded. It’s also one we should pay close attention to.
In choosing to poke gentle fun at the growing popularity of soft-focus pregnancy shoots, the type where a wind machine blows the woman’s hair gently off her face, while rabbits and angels cavort in the background (or, at least, that’s the look they seem to be going for), what the comedian is really doing is showing the world that pregnant women want to be seen.
Schumer is sharing a powerful message – that it does not matter if you put on weight while carrying a baby; if your body grows softer and looser and more rounded. That you shouldn’t be temped to ‘hide it away’ behind loose-fitting maternity wear if you don’t want to; that you should be proud, because your body is amazing and you can – and should – celebrate it, however feels right to you.
When I was six months pregnant, I did a similar photoshoot – which involved me having to pose in nothing but a pair of knickers, my hand covering my breasts in gentle mimicry of Demi Moore’s ‘hand bra’ for that seminal Vanity Fair cover shoot in 1991.
I’m (obviously) no Demi, not least because it was a work assignment and I had to hold my nerve when my photos later appeared in the centre of a pregnancy and birth magazine. But what I felt as I stood gazing into the camera – as well as a little silly and shy and embarrassed – was proud that I had worked up the nerve to take off my clothes in the first place.
For many pregnant women, the natural instinct is to cover up our bumps, curves and stretch marks; to talk about how “hideous” we look, or how much weight we’ve put on, or how much work we’re going to have to do to take it off again once we’ve given birth – a mentality not helped by the wealth of ‘baby bodies’ and ‘celebrity diets’ spreads we see on the cover of some women’s magazines.
I’ll never forget someone telling me how “surprised” they were to see how “fat” I’d become while carrying my second child, because I put on less weight with my first.
So what Amy Schumer is doing, and what thousands of other women are doing when they bare all during their pregnancy, is capturing forever, on camera, how marvellous their bodies are. How clever, how beautiful, how incredible. And it doesn’t get much more empowering than that.