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Rihanna’s Super Bowl Performance Pregnancy Reveal Earns Praise as the Greatest Yet

Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance lasted almost 13 minutes, but the enduring image of the pregnant pop star, wearing a red silk Loewe catsuit and holding her belly while descending from a Perspex box, will likely be remembered as a significant pregnancy announcement in the era of Instagram.

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Prior to changing into an Alaia puffer coat with built-in gloves, Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance had already become more than just a halftime show. As a new mother returning to work, she skillfully turned the moment into a controlled yet prominent event, overcoming the challenge of a second pregnancy reveal. By presenting her physical reality, the singer went beyond a mere fashion statement, taking charge of her body and doing so in real-time.

While it may seem unfamiliar in the UK, the Super Bowl is not just a sports event, but also a lucrative platform for brands. A fast-fashion company spent $14 million on two ads to be aired during the game. Rihanna, who is well aware of this, strategically used her beauty brand, Fenty’s Invisimatte Instant Setting & Blotting Powder, blotting her nose with it during her performance. The Daily Mail criticized her for being “shameless,” but many others praised her as a savvy, pregnant businesswoman.

Back in 2019, during my own pregnancy, my appearance was nothing like Rihanna’s. Our timelines align in that both of us are due to give birth in early summer, experiencing the challenging “coat-over-bump” phase. However, our similarities end there. Throughout my pregnancy, my clothes adapted to my changing shape: elasticated waistband jeans from Topshop, a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress given to me by a colleague, and Asos dresses in billowing plissé fabrics that I immediately donated to charity once I regained mobility. As for my pregnancy reveal, I simply shared a headless mirror photo on Instagram, gently lifting my tracksuit to reveal a tiny bump. Other than the DVF dress, I despised everything I wore.

After sharing my pregnancy picture, I quickly made my account private. Celebrity pregnancy reveals, on the other hand, are often publicized and have a brief but significant history. One landmark moment occurred in 1991 when Annie Leibovitz photographed a naked and heavily pregnant Demi Moore in profile for Vanity Fair. In 2017, Leibovitz revisited the idea, capturing Serena Williams in a similar manner. This image holds even more weight now, as Williams had a near-death experience due to complications from an emergency C-section after that pregnancy.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the era of “bump watch” dominated gossip magazines and took away the control of celebrities to announce their pregnancy on their own terms. In 1988, Neneh Cherry became the first artist to perform while eight months pregnant on Top of the Pops. A decade later, Melanie Blatt of All Saints performed on stage while five months pregnant. However, other high-profile women often concealed their pregnancies. Nicole Appleton of All Saints was criticized for keeping her pregnancy a secret, while Victoria Beckham kept most of hers under wraps, except for one.

Celebrities today prefer to maintain control over their pregnancy announcements and how they are presented to the public. One example of this is the stunning photograph of Beyoncé by photographer Awol Erizku, where she was draped in a veil in front of a floral arch while pregnant with twins, creating a Botticelli-like portrait. This photograph became the most liked image on Instagram in 2017, garnering over 10 million likes. Although Beyoncé announced her first pregnancy during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, it didn’t have the same lasting impact as her more recent, controlled reveal.

By standing on a snow-covered street wearing a vintage Chanel puffer coat, a jeweled belly chain, and an exposed bump, Rihanna demonstrated her ability to use clothing to assert control over her body.

Pregnant celebrities have been setting new fashion trends for red-carpet events. From Cardi B in a Dolce & Gabbana sheer bodysuit to Jessie J in a red cut-out bodysuit at the Brits, bare baby bumps have become the new norm. Rihanna, however, is breaking the mold by challenging societal expectations for women in the public eye. Demi Moore’s iconic 1991 Vanity Fair cover, in which she was photographed naked while heavily pregnant, broke barriers and challenged repressed corporeal ideals, despite the fact that it was banned in some stores at the time.

Over the past decade, celebrities have often used Instagram as their preferred platform for announcing news to their fans in a carefully orchestrated and controlled manner. In contrast, announcing pregnancy on a public stage, as Rihanna did, was not only daring but will likely be a memorable moment for years to come.

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