Featuring the likes of Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry and Heidi Klum, the editors at Maxim unsurprisingly find ways to objectify the pregnant bodies of famous women. Of Halle Berry they write:
"Descriptions like "over 40" and "with child" aren´t usually things we associate with looking hot, but Halle pulls off both better than anyone we´ve seen. Plus, we admire the guts it must have taken to walk into the maternity store and say, "Give me a big stack of the lowest-cut dresses you have."
It's no surprise that pregnant women are increasingly positioned as 'hot' or 'sexy'. A pregnant body is a clearly sexed body, despite historical associations of motherhood with the 'Virgin' Mary. In fact, pregnancy porn is a big business and its own genre of sexual fetish. A simple Google search will deliver various iterations of big bellies represented as equally as sexy as the big breasts that epitomise mainstream porn. In fact, Lisa Rinna was the first celebrity to do a naked pregnant photo shoot for Playboy magazine in September 1998. Rinna, formerly of the hit television show Melrose Place, chose a pornographic magazine rather than a lifestyle magazine to make her pregnant debut. However, as Rebecca Huntley (2000:350) argues, ‘Despite assertions of sexiness, Rinna’s pictures are not constructed as masturbation material, rather maternal material.’
Feminist film theorist, Laura Mulvey has famously argued that women have historically been ‘looked at’ as passive objects whilst men are the voyeuristic, active subjects (1989). What I find fascinating is that the pregnant women in these 'hottest' spreads either in Maxim or Marie Claire do not appear to be passive objects as they looks directly into the camera and appear to enjoy the position of being looked at. However, their glamorous appearances perhaps suggest remnants of an internalised male gaze that dictates how women should ‘appear’. It is also possible that the 'hottest' pregnant women features reflect an internalised female gaze as women also scrutinise their bodies equally or even more so than men (for example, the appearance of Christina and Britney both naked and pregnant on mainstream women's magazine covers and not in men's magazines).