Remember Demi Moore posing pregnant for Vanity Fair? That was in 1991. Demi was the pioneer, so to speak, of baring bub. If anybody was responsible for making pregnancy seem beautiful it was Demi. She looked so radiant you could be excused for believing that she had bypassed morning sickness and that carrying several extra kilos around day and night wasn’t uncomfortable. For one moment in time she turned mums into superstars. People were creating clothes for pregnant women that catered to their changing bodies rather than tents that hid them. Posing celebrity mums was fashionable for a while, then we were over it. Seen one extended tummy, seen them all and Demi after all had made her point for us. Also, they were all the same.
That is, until a UK artist, Damien Hirst decided to go one step further. He calls his sixty five foot creation Verity. One of Verity’s arms raises a sword to the sky and the other arm holds a set of scales hidden behind her back. Hirst says she is a ‘modern allegory of truth and justice’ and has loaned it out for 20 years to a town in Devon called Ilfracombe.
On one side, the statue is like any other sixty five foot pregnant lady with an extended stomach, on the other side there’s a ‘detailed tour of the female anatomy – from her muscles, bones and breast tissue to her foetus in her stomach.
It has caused controversy in Ilfracombe. Some residents thought it was outrageous, others said it was beautiful and the politicians did what politicians do and said it would be good for the economy.
I think Hirst has taken his view of motherhood a step further than Demi Moore. She bravely bared herself and proved there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. He has ripped away the veil of mystery to reveal the inner bub and a pregnant women’s inner beauty.
In the 19th Century women wore dresses that ballooned out and covered their torsos. Pregnant women had to keep out of the public eye until they had given birth. Nobody talked about the process or the journey that brought the woman to that day, so that it must have come as a surprisse to the woman concerned.
Thankfully we have progressed past 19th Century mores and taboos and some of those naysayers in Ilfracombe.