By Ronnie Koenig
Britney did it. Mariah did it. And of course there was the one who started it all: Demi. The idea of posing nude while pregnant has become somewhat of a fad, but nearly nine months into my pregnancy with twins, all I could think about was my raging heartburn, constipation, and the sensation that two aliens had taken over my petite, five-foot-tall frame. In fact, the day I pushed my Victoria's Secret bikinis to the back of the drawer and purchased a 3-pack of Hanes briefs in a size so big they could actually be folded in half when they came out of the dryer, all vestiges of sexiness were long forgotten.
But it wasn't just the fact that I was buying my underwear from the same aisle in the drug store that featured oral hygiene products that gave me misgivings about posing nude -- I just didn't feel sexy in my changing body. I know that as a modern feminist I was supposed to embrace my expanding shape as earthy and sensual -- the ultimate expression of being a woman -- but as someone who grew up as a chubby kid and then worked hard to lose and keep off 25 pounds, I couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness as my skinny jeans and pretty dresses started to look like doll clothes compared to the Motherhood Maternity frocks I was now sporting.
And it wasn't exactly like my husband was gaga over my newly rotund figure either. Many men swear that they just love the blossoming belly, ballooning breasts, and pancake-sized areolas that come along with pregnancy. Though my husband was totally loving and supportive during those long weeks, I was perceptive enough to know without asking that he, too, longed for the old days when I could roll over in bed without whispering words of encouragement to myself ("You can do it!"). Sure, there was something cool about the fact that my body could expand to accommodate not one but two babies, but that was overshadowed by the fact that I couldn’t leave the house without getting "pregnancy cat-called" by men and women alike. "Whoa!" a passerby muttered under her breath. "Any day now?" an old man outside the local watering hole inquired. "You got two babies in there!" screamed an overly enthusiastic woman from her car window.
So why was I even considering allowing someone to take pictures of me in this condition? Several months earlier, I had taken a pin-up girl class with the talented photographer, Charise Isis (who goes by "Isis"), that entailed a vintage head-to-toe makeover and photo shoot. It was just weeks into my pregnancy, before I was even showing, and the results were astounding. Isis helped me relax in front of her lens and brought out my inner sex goddess. And while I was worried that all of my flaws would show up in the pictures, I was shocked when I saw the proofs, which included a fantastic picture of me that looked like my version of Kate Winslet posing naked for her portrait in Titanic.
So when my belly grew down to my knees (with my breasts not far behind), I was hopeful (though not entirely convinced) that Isis could make me look beautiful while hugely pregnant.
With more than a drop of hesitation, I scheduled a date with Isis, and on a cloudy weekday afternoon she showed up on my doorstep with her camera and some words of encouragement: "Every woman should have these pictures," she told me as we transformed my bedroom into a makeshift studio. All was fine and well as we started with some shots of me wearing one of my husband's white button-downs. But then the moment came -- the moment when she suggested I get naked. "She's a professional," I told myself. "It'll be fine." I awkwardly lay down on the white sheets of my bed, splayed out in all my naked glory and feeling like a beached whale. Isis took a few shots but could see the tension on my face. "I want you to close your eyes and think of your babies," she instructed. Taking a deep breath, I pushed out the image of myself as a two-ton mammal and replaced it with cool features of my pregnant body, like the fact that I could feel my son and daughter kicking inside me and the weird "x" that two veins made at the center of my belly. By the time the session ended, Isis and I were laughing and chatting, and I felt so comfortable I pretty much forgot I was naked.
A couple weeks later when I saw the proofs from the shoot, I knew that Isis was right -- these were pictures I would cherish forever, not only because they were so beautifully (and tastefully) done, but because I otherwise might have forgotten that my small body was capable of stretching to such amazingly large proportions.
Having since given birth, I'm happy that my tummy has deflated and that I can (mostly) fit back into my regular clothes. But taking naked pregnancy pictures is something I'm glad I did. It showed me that my body was amazing and beautiful in that state, and yes, even earthy and sensual.
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Even if you don't plan on hanging a poster-sized version of your "Demi moment" on your bedroom wall, I agree with Isis -- posing nude while pregnant is something every woman should do for herself.
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