Beauty and the bump

Pregnant women are swapping smocks for sexy slips. But have our attitudes really changed?

WHEN THE pregnant Spices, Posh and Scary, arrived at the launch party for Marco Pierre White's new restaurant earlier this week, there would have been two very different responses from other women.

Some would have looked at the two young pop stars, all fecund curves and voluptuous cleavages, and thought: Great! Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you have to wear pastel-coloured tent dresses for nine months.

But I predict that others - especially any woman in the third trimester of her pregnancy who feels the size of a Ford Transit van - would be thinking: Great! But I bet Scary's high heels are murder.

It seems a long time since Goldie Hawn hid behind a screen at the Oscars because she thought she'd never work again if the Hollywood producers caught sight of her pregnant. This year alone has seen Mel Blatt of All Saints do the midriff top and combat trouser look. The Spice Girls have done Lycra and spangles. The television presenter Tania Bryer may have concealed her pregnancy for eight months, but when she did go public she chose Gucci, a designer label not known for its comfy, elasticated waist- bands.

All these women epitomise a new, liberated attitude to pregnancy which, for once, spreads further than the weird world of the celebrity. Eight years ago Karena Callen, beauty director of the women's magazine Red, remembers going, while pregnant, to a nightclub in Los Angeles wearing a short, skin-tight Azzedine Alaia dress. "This guy stopped me and told me I shouldn't even be out of the house in my condition, and I certainly shouldn't be out wearing that outfit."

She thinks times have changed, helped by public figures such as Yasmin le Bon, and Neneh Cherry who famously appeared on Top of the Pops when practically on her way to the birthing-pool. "Women are feeling much freer than they used to," says Karena. "I enjoyed being pregnant. I was into the way my body felt. It was empowering. I became more exhibitionist, rather than less."

Certainly there's more choice for women who don't want to do the navy- blue-marquee look. High-street labels such as Dorothy Perkins and H&M have maternity lines. Formes, a French-run maternity wear company, was launched in Britain seven years ago. Their best-sellers include PVC trousers - with cunning, stretchy waist-bands - and mock-fur miniskirts. For once in your life you can stick your tummy out rather than suck it in. Rachel Shattock, editor of the motherhood magazine M, says: "Gone are the days when a pregnant woman suddenly became invisible. You can be glamorous, just as you were before you got pregnant."

And yet, for all this enlightened late-Nineties attitude, it would be a mistake to think that pregnant women have suddenly got it made. The Spice Girls have to sell records. We'd be more shocked if Mel B appeared in an outsize woolly and a pair of fluff-flecked leggings.

And with more women choosing to work up to their due date, many of these enlightened views have been brought about out of necessity rather than a desire to politicise the pregnant woman. Alice Farmer, a solicitor, realised that she wouldn't be taken seriously at work if she didn't make an effort with her appearance. "There's a tendency to infantilise women who are pregnant, and the traditional uniform - the dungarees, the sailor suits, the pretty flowery patterns - is all part of that.

"There's a presumption that as soon as you get pregnant you aren't up to the job. I deliberately thought about what I was wearing, more so than I might have done before. I wore more hard-edged clothes in order to be taken seriously."

Indeed, anyone who has been pregnant may have wondered quite what kind of night Posh Spice and Mel B really had. Certainly, once she was at her table Mel B would have taken her shoes off. Your centre of gravity changes when you're pregnant, and high heels mean you're more likely to fall over. They also make your back ache. And how Posh got away with not wearing a bra amazed some women. "When I was pregnant I wore a bra continually, even in bed," recalls one.

Perhaps we're in danger of doing what we've always done to pregnant women: lump them all together. Put it this way: Mothercare will not be trading in sailor-collar dresses for maternity boob tubes.

Susie Orbach is the authority on women and body image: "It depends what type of pregnancy you're having. Some women feel fantastic. Others hate their bodies. You can't even judge your reaction by the way you felt about body image before you get pregnant. For some women, who have distorted ideas about body shape a pregnancy can be a healing thing. For others it's very difficult."

Good luck to the Spices, but perhaps we should look elsewhere for signs of enlightenment. When Mel B is photographed breast-feeding in the Met Bar we'll know that attitudes to women and motherhood have really changed.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower