How Beyoncé’s Instagram pregnancy makes her a modern fertility goddess
Pregnancy, so they say, is a magical time. And, in a world where nothing happens unless it happens on social media, that translates into nine months of unmissable photo ops. See Beyoncé’s Instagram feed, updated this weekend with images of the singer, about eight months pregnant with twins, at her “push party” (the same as a baby shower but with partners admitted).
Not for her the demure tent dress to skim the bump. Beyoncé wears a skirt made from west African wax prints fabric, a tie-dye bikini, head wrap with flowers, cowrie shell necklace, an armful of bangles and a henna tattoo on her naked belly. The posts look closer to a David Bailey portrait than the average mirror selfie.
While the 1990s saw bump chic emerge, with Demi Moore naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair and All Saints’ Melanie Blatt’s bump-and-combats look, celebrity pregnancy has recently had a behind-closed-doors policy. Beyoncé and her husband, Jay Z, shut off the part of the hospital where Blue Ivy was born in 2012. Then Kim Kardashian got pregnant in 2015, posted a naked selfie and – you know the drill by now – broke the internet.
Beyoncé responded earlier this year with a pregnant-with-twins announcement that saw her modelled on a modern Virgin Mary in her undies, with veil, beatific expression and flowers. It was compared to Latin American funeraries, Flemish portraiture and work by French artists Pierre et Gilles. It also garnered more than 11 million likes. She followed it with photoshoots of her underwater, and others of her wearing Gucci dresses, flower crowns and a “Preggers” T-shirt that promptly sold out.
Beyoncé is winning at Insta-pregnancy by turning herself into a kind of modern fertility goddess. While the push party images are designed to work for social media – bright colours, celebrity friends – they are also part of a Brand Bey game plan. The star is exploring imagery from different African countries and the African diaspora. During her performance at the Grammys in February, bump already in evidence, she was a vision in gold, complete with crown. Some likened the look to a madonna in a religious icon painting. Others pointed out allusions to Oshun, the Yoruba orisha (spirit) said to protect women during pregnancy.
With Beyoncé’s due date thought to be in early June, there is ample time to explore other orishas and – of course – gain more likes in the process. And postpartum? The perfect moment for a Carter twinstagram, surely.