Demi and Jessica Simpson bump covers

 

It’s a hard one. When Demi Moore stripped bare for her 91 Vanity Fair Cover at seven months pregnant, some said it was a feminist stance, celebrating her new found form, others felt it a controversial move by an actress in constant need of attention.

Fast forward to Jessica Simpson’s recent Elle cover (identical in pose) and it begs the question: do we really need to see something so intimate and sacred as a heavily pregnant naked woman spread across magazine covers? Would you have your pregnant naked self hanging in your lounge for all to see?

Let’s not forget the subjects are paid huge amounts to be naked in order to sell magazines (millions of magazines) thus using their newly found maternal status to sell.

They’re selling their bodies aren’t they? Or are they?

Some argue that the female form is no more beautiful than when pregnant and I agree, but these pictures are making me a little uncomfortable. They feel exploitative. I felt the same when I saw Myleene Klass mimicking the pose on Glamour Magazine pregnant with her first child. That “Oh another celebrity cashing in on their pregnancy” vibe.

That “Oh another celebrity cashing in on their pregnancy” vibe. Yes, we need to celebrate the female form and the larger form especially in light of the size 0 culture but is this the only way?

Yes, we need to celebrate the female form and the larger form especially in light of the size 0 culture but is this the only way?

As a female filmmaker (one of only 7% of women directors) I’m fully committed to the positive representation of women and rejoicing in women.

I believe women should feel free to breastfeed openly if they choose to and have made a film for Breastfeeding charity Best Beginnings as well as pregnancy related films raising awareness on pregnancy conditions and other docs for the NHS- I just wonder if it’s necessary these pregnant stars are naked.

What would be so wrong in having a female star, pregnant (heavily or not) and fully clothed on a cover of a magazine? Wouldn’t that truly naturalise pregnancy in a more effective way?

It’s just those dewy eyes posed to the camera, all come to bed and appealing makes what could have been a natural Henry Moore inspired pose, sexual. I’m not for one minute saying pregnant women are not or should not appear attractive and sexy-but there is no counterpoint/no point of difference to these images.

Sex seems to sell, pregnant or not.

But what do you think?

Above pictures Demi Moore cover ©Vanity Fair. Jessica Simpson cover ©Elle.

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36 Responses

  1. Khan

    I love this type of properly arranged information for the users. I agree with you which is mentioned in the post. Such a lovely information and discussion.

    Reply
  2. terry

    It is always amazing, somewhat funny and very sad that Africana women are so often ignored by the media. DeeDee Bridgewater, a beautiful and talented Africana woman posed pregnant and naked on an album in 1978. I am not certain if she was the first or not, but she was certainly decades ahead of these women and she didn’t even get a nod. At what point will you folks stop using your complexion for the connection to pretend that there are no beautiful women who are not of the Caucasian persuasion?

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Hi Terry I agree and never said or thought otherwise, I am of Greek Cypriot origin and ethnicity. This post is about these particular women using their pregnancies in what I perceive to be a rather sexualised way. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  3. honestmum

    @Kirstin21 thanks for your comment and yes maybe with some celebrities it is the same, I suppose I just find it limiting that most pregnant celebrities do the same old Demi Moore pose and there isn’t more variety and realistic representation of pregnant women. I too am living in the UK and pregnant, working in the media-a lot of the time celebs are pressured or feel it’s good PR to do the naked pregnancy pose.

    Reply
  4. Kirstin21

    I am 21, a mother of two beautiful girls aged 30 & 15 months, at my age in the UK it’s quite common to be pregnant or have children, but personally I feel that honestly celebrities posing like this is just their own photoshoot to always be proud and show off their stunning bodies – pregnant or not.
    If I had been as stunning in my pregnancy & was offered a similar deal I’d have definitely took it for memoir sake.
    I had a professional photoshoot done at six months pregnant with my first and honestly, I show her the photos now, it’s amazing being able to share! Is it not possible these celebrities are just doing the same? x

    Reply
  5. Jen aka The Mad House

    Such a fab post. I hated the way I looked when pregnant. I was not in anyway beautiful. I just looked fat, but discernible bump. There isn’t a single image of me pregnant and I have to say, that the airbrushed perfect celeb pictures do nothing, but help compound the fact that I was in no way having the perfect pregnancy.

    I am all for pictures of woman pregnant, but lets make them accurate, not photoshopped and lets try and remember just as real woman come in all shapes and sizes so do pregnant ones.

    Reply
  6. icklebabe

    Such an interesting post and comments.
    I didnt mind the Demi Moore one all those moons ago, but the Jessica Simpson one seems different. Maybe its becauseweve seen it now or maybe its beacuse Demi looks fearless and fantastic and Jess looks, well scared a bit… which makes the picture slightly uncomfortable to look at ? x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @icklebabe such a valid point-the eyes say a lot don’t they. Really think we need a variety of strong and positive pregnant imagery in mainstream media to empower women x

      Reply
  7. honestmum

    @EmmaK all part of the PR machine I realise but they have the choice to say no and it really is so boring post Demi seeing the same pose etc. Good on you for celebrating your pregnant self on your lounge wall. Nothing wrong there but if it’s the only way or most dominant way pregnant women are viewed in the mass media then it’s limiting and wrong in my opinion!

    Reply
  8. EmmaK

    Well most celebrities are simply products that either sell other products or sell movies so I don’t really see a problem with it in the sense that they have already sold their integrity down the river and can therefore be bought for the highest price. I actually feel sorry for celebrities because they either have an emotional need to be constantly on display or are told by their PRs to say, pose pregnant in a magazine. As for the question: Would you have your pregnant naked self hanging in your lounge for all to see? I think I would but it would be more in a sort of arty farty Black and White photo that looks a bit like desert dunes!

    Reply
  9. Mother's Always Right

    Interesting and thought-provoking post. I don’t really have a problem with these covers, although I must say I wouldn’t choose to be shot in this way. When I was pregnant I had a few photographs taken by my photographer friend, but chose to stay clothed with a bit of bump showing. That’s more because I’m a prude than anything else though. I actually think it’s quite nice to see a change from the usual thin supermodel on the cover of a mag, although Jessica Simpson’s cover does feel a bit like “Yeah, Demi did well with it, so I’ll give it a go too”. Unoriginal, but I’m not offended by it.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Mother’sAlwaysRight thanks for your comment. I’m not offended by it as that’s too strong a reaction I just wish pregnant women were represented more fairly-feels derogative to always have pregnant women naked and yes how unoriginal. Cheers.

      Reply
  10. Him Up North

    I don’t think the image (one of a bunch shot by Annie Leibovitz while DM was pregnant) sexualises pregnancy. The American publishing industry took care of that by running scared and putting the magazine on news stands in wrappers designed to obscure the full photo thereby inventing a taboo.
    I don’t know if the same has happened to Jessica Simpson’s cover but if it hasn’t then it’s a measure of how far the US has come. As for Jessica Simpson the worst crime she has committed is lack of originality.

    Reply
  11. Susan Mann

    I am not sure about these picture. They are beautiful and tastefully done, but I think it’s a private thing. Not something that should be put on a magazine cover.

    Reply
  12. Jo Beaufoix

    Great post hon. I agree with so much of the above. Naked pregnant breast feeding people don’t bother or offend me, but I did see that pic and think ‘boring’. It’s fab that she’s pregnant, congrats and all that, but I don’t need tosee her bump. Demi’s picwas surprising and beautiful, but now it’s just become a bit of a celeb cliche.

    My sis had some gorgeouspregnancy pics done and has them in an album that she has shown me, but she’s not put it on facebook or anything. It’s lovely and personal and a celebration of her own pregnancy, but the world doesn’t need to see it. Sticking it on the cover of Elle is totally about making money and nothing about pregnancy or women in my opinion. There’s norhing wrong wirh that, but it would make me nor buy a macazine rather than buy it.

    Reply
  13. Alison, Not another mummy blog

    You’re right, they definitely have choices. I think as readers, though, we definitely take more notice of a mag cover on the news stand if it has a naked pregnant celeb on the cover, rather than a fully clothed pregnant celeb, so perhaps these covers do sell more (I have no facts or figures to back this up, so I could well be wrong!)

    Brilliant post, by the way x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      I see why they choose to do it and it’s the media as a whole who have a lot to answer for. Like minorities, women, pregnant or otherwise need to be viewed in the myriad of roles we assume and in all our potential. This pose is not always the most positive way to represent pregnant women as it seems to be the only or most dominant way to show a pregnant woman. Thanks so much for your comments, really appreciate them x

      Reply
  14. Alison, Not another mummy blog

    I don’t have a huge problem with these mag covers (apart from the point that’s already been made – editors, please get these ladies to try a new pose instead of copying Demi’s).

    I love that they celebrate women’s bodies when heavily pregnant, I don’t find them overtly sexual, and I see them as just celebrities doing what they do – sharing their lives with the people who see their films/buy their music/watch their TV shows. Promoting your celebrity status is a reality of being a successful actor/singer/presenter these days – some do it in a classier way than others but all have to do interviews and photo shoots to promote their work.

    And the reality is – this stuff sells magazines. As readers, we love the intimate details of weddings, pregnancies, births, motherhood, break ups. We’re just bloody nosy! And if a celebrity is offered a large fee to pose like this on a magazine cover, I can see why it’s tempting.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Hi Alison working in the tv and film industry I understand that, but they still have choices and it feels limiting to always have pregnant stars naked. Yes we are interested in pregnancies, weddings etc but the same mags would sell if they were posing in clothes.

      Reply
  15. Grenglish

    I think it made more of a statement 20yrs ago… Demi posed on the cover of VANITY FAIR.
    Jessica Simpson is on ELLE magazine next to Spring Trends and with tot sub title CAREER ADVICE FROM POWERFUL WOMEN positioned ‘down there’.
    In this particular instance, I think it is definitely an attempt at sexualising. Although I am not sure that comes across in the pic. It actually had very little impact on me when I saw it for the first time – that pose has been done to death now.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Grenglish it really is overdone. Hopefully a pregnant or otherwise, editor will have the sense to try something new and pronto.

      Reply
  16. honestmum

    @Julesey I think like you say you have to remember so much is airbrushed and photo shopped. I’m no prude and not against nudity but the most frequent portrait shots of pregnant women seem to be nude and that has worrying connotations to me. I am sure you are not huge and if you are, you are meant to be so enjoy my lovely x

    Reply
  17. julesey10

    Good point honey! I hadn’t even really thought about it to be honest. I saw jessicas cover and did a puzzled face as she looks a lot heavier and swollen than that in pap shots and made me feel more normal but blimey that just made me want to sob out loud at how awful I look come baby 3! 🙁 I don’t mind the naked form in any state on magazines etc but personally now I feel HUGE! :(x

    Reply
  18. honestmum

    Very true Mandi and so lovely to read Greek on my blog! It is unoriginal, tired and too stereotypical. All pregnant women are clearly barefoot and in the kitchen so why not shoot them naked. Always. Yawn.

    Reply
  19. Mandi

    I don’t have any problem with a tasteful depiction of a heavily pregnant woman. It can be a very beautiful thing, so long as the subject is comfortable with it and it’s not too ‘in your face’.

    However, it really irks me that every famous or wannabe-famous female (‘kathe koutsi-Maria’, as they would say in Greece) that gets pregnant feels she has to do the Demi Moore pose somewhere. It’s just totally unoriginal and a little boring now.

    Love her or hate her, at least Demi was the first back in ’91.

    Reply
  20. Pret-A-Mummy

    Great post and an interesting topic. I am totally fed up with the sexualisation of the female body which prevents us from breastfeeding comfortably in public. The female body is made to produce and feed children, it is not there for men to lust over and objectify.

    I also agree about the sickening selling of pregnancy. It seems that if a “star”‘s career is flagging, the first port of call is to get pregnant in order to sell themselves (and their unborn baby) further.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Pret-A-Mummy totally agree and it’s a sad, desperate attempt when that’s the reason. I made a film for the Breastfeeding Charity Best Beginnings you might be interested in viewing. It’s only 10 minutes and it’s purpose is to desexualise the breast and naturalise breastfeeding. I think that’s where the line becomes blurred-suddenly we are meant to see these women as natural mothers when we are used to seeing them so sexualised, often using their breasts for other reasons! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpnlaT7jrOo

      Reply
  21. Ruth

    I think pregnancy is a beautiful stage of a woman’s life but I think these recreations of the Demi pose are tacky and, like you say, are about selling the celebrity rather than celebrating them.

    Pregnant women are sexy and beautiful. When I was pregnant I was both leered at and complimented by men on my appearance (the former really upset me) but I don’t think these magazines are aimed at men.

    Women are already subjected to huge amounts of pressure in terms of their appearance. These airbrushed pregnancy shots are not most peoples’ experience of pregnancy. Where are the stretch marks, swollen ankles, weight gain and spots? If magazines are going to celebrate the pregnant form I would like to see them celebrate it for what it actually is rather than create another false ‘ideal’ that most women are going to fail at achieving & possibly feel bad about.

    Great post Honest Mum, thanks for getting me thinking this morning 😉

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Ruth thanks for your vital points. You are so right, another airbrushing opportunity at creating ‘unrealistic’ ideals. Although what’s the alternative-nakes pregnant bodies not looking their best, further discriminating women? I think it’s about variety and reflecting real women in a more positive, like you say less tacky light. Thanks so much for your comment. Really means a lot to me.

      Reply
  22. Colette

    This leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. Yes its a celebration of the female form, and a great advert for sexuality whilst pregnant. But I feel that this was the aim when it was fist done (with Demi), yet now it is part of the “pregnancy celebrity cog”

    You can just picture the headlines. Initially “Blah Blah seen sporting a round tummy, are pregnancy rumours true?” then “blah announces they are pregnant” Then follows a series of interviews about pregnancy, how they are feeling, how they are dealing with the pressures. Next comes the maternity clothing lines, baby clothing range and work out DVDs. Then pictures are published showing the celebrity all toned and happy cradeling their 6 weeks old baby on a sunlounger somewhere exotic (undoubtedly where the work out DVD was shot).

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Colette you raise such a valid point-it’s the first step to the commericalisation and explotation process of motherhood: mag deals, fashion ranges, dvds etc-what happened to protecting your child’s identity as best you can ala Meryl Streep has always done or Holly Willoughby. I understand extremely high profile stars feel they have no choice but to reveal their child in the public eye to prevent paparazzi hounding them for the first picture, but after that do they really need the money? Yes pregnant women are beautiful and can be and are sexy and should feature and be prominent in the media but always being naked as a celebrity rights of passage seems so old school and mysogynistic on many levels. Thanks for your comment x

      Reply
  23. Angie

    Well as a mom, and one who is very much 9 months pregnant currently don’t completely agree with you on this one.

    While I am tired of seeing the contrived version of the Demi pose for all moms to be trying out on their various covers, and the fact that the only reason they do it is for the hard cash.

    I welcome seeing a not perfect body on the cover of a magazine pregnant or not. I also enjoy seeing women who say I am comfortable, even though my waist might be 40 inches instead of 24. I like the idea of reminding people that bringing life is a beautiful thing, when the hormones are all out of whack, when men don’t quite understand the emotions of carrying and so on… why not say hey… Pregnancy can be beautiful and can be appreciated and saluted.

    Would I love to see a pregnancy magazine that paid homage to the female pregnant form all the time… please TMZ will post a pic of the Octomom in all her pregnant glory as to mock her belly for carrying so many kids. What about the miracle that is the body that can handle the pressure, the weight, the stretching and sacrificing.

    I just believe in this day in age demoralizing something so profound something more than a cover of a magazine… sorry it’s just a bit more than that!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Hi Angie thanks for commenting and congrats on your pregnancy. I agree, pregnant women are beautiful. There is nothing moer anturally stunning than that or seeing a woman breastfeed. My issue is that popular culture has deemed this the only way in which to showcase pergnant women and it feels a little too sexualised to me. Why must they be totally naked all the time? Why can’t a star front a cover fully clothed as well. It’s about varied representation not censuring this one way. If only showing women naked and pregnant, it somehow objectifies them and makes their representation too simplistic. Sadly we are not living in a equal world and it’s hard enought to be taken seriously as a woman in most industries (mine included) pregnant or otherwise.

      Reply
  24. Bangs and a Bun

    Fantastic post and really interesting topic.

    I agree with you. While I love the female form and find pregnancy and the miracle of life to be pretty fascinating, there is something slightly uncomfortable about it being shown in this way. Of course, pregnant women are still attractive and sexual beings but that can still be portrayed sans the nudity.

    I don’t think pregnancies should be hidden but at the same time, I do think there should be an overall air of… ‘protection’ I guess. I wouldn’t know, not being a mother but what I imagine is that you want to protect your child. In a sense, these kind of shots almost seem to be putting a child out there before it’s ready (quite literally).

    I don’t know, it’s a tough one. If these kind of shoots are never done, are we saying we should be ashamed of pregnant bodies? There has to be representation, but I would like to see it being a little more diverse.

    And on a separate note, my first reaction when I see these pics now is more one of ‘Ugh, again?’ than ‘Oh isn’t that beautiful!’ Why does everyone always recreate that Demi cover? Can we get a little variety?!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Bangsandabun thanks for your comment. It’s true that perhaps the first time was revolutionary/ celebratory in fact but now it feels saturated and there are other ways to show pregnant women positively.

      Reply

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