Last week, Kehlani surprised the world with the news of her pregnancy. “The decision to share this with the world was a tough one,” she shared with her Twitter followers, “but i really want to experience the freedom and joy any normal pregnant person feels. i don’t want to hide. i want to walk around belly out everywhere. ME AND MY SHORTY OUT HERE!”
The deterrence of pregnancy for women celebrities has long been a practice in the entertainment industry. The notion that pregnancy will negatively affect one’s work ethic has led some to avoid pregnancy, choose motherhood, and for those at the peak of their career, find ways to work hard and conceal their pregnancy.
Take Tamika Scott for example. For those who are unaware of who she is, she is ¼ of the 90s R&B group Xscape. News of her pregnancy came at the height of the group’s career, resulting in record executives wanting her out of the group. Her fellow group members encouraged her to get an abortion, but after making her decision to keep the baby, it was her sister and lead singer LaTocha’s threat to leave, that scared the execs straight.
What if you don’t have the support? Get left out a family deal as did Traci Braxton pre Braxton Family Value days…or have a game plan and work thrice as hard as the average pregnant woman. Cardi chose the latter.
“When I got pregnant, I was fucking freaking out,” Cardi told W Magazine. “Everybody around me was like, ‘No, this never happened before. Every artist that had a baby, they already put in years in the game. This is your first year. You’re going to mess it up.”’
So she kept it a secret. She found outfits to conceal her belly and tried to deflect from rumors, until the very public announcement on Saturday Night Live, when she revealed her belly in a tight fitted dress during her performance of “Be Careful.”
The pressures to avoid letting down those who invested in her put Cardi in overdrive. She worked tirelessly at studios and at hiding her belly. With club appearances, scheduled performances and an album to complete, she was barely able to enjoy her pregnancy. She was even robbed of the opportunity to tell Atlantic when word got to them that she may have a bun in the oven.
Fortunately for Kehlani, she is a seasoned artist who is far past her peak in this industry. The pressures associated with newer artists in the spotlight are lessened in her case, and quite frankly would make it a bit easier to conceal given her already private life. Measures would have had to be taken to avoid paparazzi, hide the growing baby bump, and prevent inside tips from getting to bloggers, but that in itself is constraining.
Kehlani witnessed firsthand the constriction when she worked alongside a pregnant Cardi as they recorded and shot the video for their hit single, “Ring.” While the circumstances are different, that’s not how she wanted her story to pan out.
Instead, she sets out to experience the freedom of being a pregnant person. She desires to embrace and expose her belly without having to hide it from the world so she took control of her situation and revealed the news on her own terms. How liberating!