Superstar rapper Cardi B’s candid social media commentary about the ups and downs of her pregnancy, and subsequent motherhood, is a rare thing in a music industry where for years women in pop culture were expected to conceal their pregnancies. At times, she described her situation comically — “Sad news: I can’t see my vagina any more,” she tweeted out in June — and other times emotionally. Giving birth, she acknowledged, had upended her life — and she shared explicitly that the difficulties of being a mother, and of recovering from pregnancy, had forced her to cancel a tour she intended to make six weeks postpartum.
But back in 1991, when a heavily pregnant Demi Moore posed nude for the cover of Vanity Fair, many newsstands refused to stock the magazine out of moral outrage — naked women were one thing, but naked pregnant women were a step too far. The strange taboo surrounding pregnancy may have lessened in recent years — an image of Beyoncé kneeling while pregnant with twins became the most popular Instagram photo of the year in 2017 — but in the early 00s, even Madonna’s music video director was resorting to smoke and mirrors to prevent viewers from realizing the star was pregnant.
“Back then, women had to be fit, they had to be sexy,” explained musician Emma-Lee Moss, who performs under the name Emmy the Great. “There was this sense of: we’ve got to keep them young and fuckable.”
“Pregnancy is a body-horror,” she continued. “You’re hairy and smelly and things are happening and fluids are coming out.”
“Perhaps fans don’t want to think of the artists they admire shopping for diapers or having sore nipples,” added composer Rebekka Karijord, who documented the trauma she suffered while giving birth prematurely in her 2017 album Mother Tongue. “Artists, and especially young female ones in pop music, are often supposed to be a blank canvas for their fans’ projections, for their longings and dreams. Available and untaken.”
It’s a shame, says Karijord, because “pregnancy and parenthood is a huge, existential part of life for many of us. And genuine, interesting art has to be allowed to reflect our life – for both men and women.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.