Today in (very) public pregnancy news: Jessica Simpson appears on the cover of the April issue of Elle in Demi Moore's nude-and-seven-months-pregnant pose from the August 1991 -- 1991! -- issue of Vanity Fair. Back when Annie Leibovitz shot the photo of Moore, it was considered groundbreaking, and a progressive step for women that showed pregnant ladies could be beautiful and sexy, too. It was also controversial -- it was deemed too risqué and came in an envelope.
But it's 21 years later, and the culture of celebrity pregnancy worship has evolved considerably; some might say in a rather unfortunate way. Do we need this latest cover of J. Simp. nude, clutching her bare, pregnant stomach on the cover of Elle, gazing at the reader in a bleary-eyed or come-hither manner (depending on your point of view)? Is this pushing any boundaries at all?
Now that a "baby bump" is an official accessory (and a creepy way for celebrity magazines to sell issues), numerous celebrities—too many to count and including men—have appeared in this pose, or one like it, on the covers of magazines or in photo shoots. Monica Bellucci did it. A Spice Girl did it. Britney, Mariah, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, and Christina Aguilera did it. Regular moms have done it for their own personal photo albums. Leslie Nielsen parodied it. Spy magazine put Bruce Willis's head on a pregnant body. Demi Moore has since been on the cover of Vanity Fair twice, in different poses, one wearing a trompe-l'œil suit painted on her body. At this point, breaking out the old Leibovitz pose for yet another magazine, rather than seeming groundbreaking or progressive, is, at best, tired and a bit lazy. At worst, it's fetishy. Because yet again, we're focusing on the body of a pregnant woman as if to say, "Look! She's still sexy!" It seems like in 2012 we should have moved on to, say, talking about the person and not the "bump," and how sexy or not sexy it is.
Of course, this is the world of magazines that put celebrities on their covers, and babies are seen as one of the big wins in the cover domination game, along with weddings, diets, and deaths. So, while we don't get (thankfully) a pregnant naked Snooki gazing at us from Us Weekly this week, we do get Snooki's big reveal, which of course we pretty much knew the whole time. She's pregnant, officially, she tells the magazine. Cover question: Why did she lie? (Duh: This is big business for celebrities, who can sell pregnancy news, first baby photos, and glimpses into their newfound public motherhood to the highest bidder.)
But, if we're praising women for sharing their bumps on the covers of magazines, perhaps the magazine shouldn't be so aggressive in photoshopping the faces of those ladies. Seriously, what happened to Snooki's face up there? Still, we're glad she's in her clothes. In terms of pregnancy covers, a dress is practically groundbreaking.
In any case, the last magazine to have successfully done the old Demi Moore pose with new impact is New York Magazine, with their recent cover featuring a 50-something pregnant woman and the headline "Is She Just Too Old for This?" And with that, we say, it's time for retirement. Please.