To me, the greatest demonstration of body positivity on the red carpet to date was when English musician MIA rocked the hell out of her baby bump at the 2009 Grammys. Seven years ago, the groundbreaking recording artist showed up to the prestigious awards show and performed on the day her baby was due. But just as badass was her decision to wear outfits that accentuated a lovely and enlarged belly. Ditching the classic empire or A-line dress, the now 40-year-old babe opted for two stunning garments: A multi-layered bright blue and green dress by Indian designer Manish Arora for the red carpet (which she paired with blue sneakers, proudly holding her belly as photographers snapped her photo). And my personal favorite: The black and white see-through dress (like, 80 percent see-through).
When MIA changed out of her cute blue frock for her performance alongside Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and T.I., she slipped into a sheer and fitted black number with strategically placed polka-dotted circles over her breasts and belly. By British designer Henry Holland, this was certainly the most daring of the outfit choices. And she looked cute as hell, not apologizing for showing off her pregnant body in a way she saw fit. In fact, it looked like she was having a full-on blast.
Unfortunately, there was some backlash on the Internet at the time for both of MIA's outfit choices. Since she was so pregnant, I guess she should've gone great lengths to cover up her body or wear something "tasteful," right? Written out, it all sounds absurd. But the Web can be an uncomfortable place that perpetuates body negativity — and back before 2014, this was even more common outside the comments section (which is still a universally horrible place).
The reaction to her sheer black outfit even added a bit of slut-shaming into the mix. New York Magazine's The Cut spoke with the outfit's designer Henry Holland, who bemusedly reflected on how some fashion bloggers were taking issue with MIA's sartorial choices. Critics of the outfits were "saying that she’s a skanky ho who couldn’t wait to get her baby about before getting back in the game!" Essentially, people were simultaneously desexualizing and slut-shaming a badass woman who happened to be pregnant.
Despite all the haters, with her 2009 Grammys outfit choices, MIA demonstrated that you can still embrace your sexuality while pregnant, that fashion rules regarding what's "flattering" are irrelevant, and that you should proudly flaunt your belly and your body no matter what others might say. Motherhood is a beautiful thing and worth celebrating. And if you want to celebrate this new chapter in your life by showing off your belly in a tight dress or rocking an outfit that apparently makes you look like a globe, then so be it.
MIA certainly set a precedent for unashamedly flaunting one's pregnant body on the red carpet in styles that she probably would have gravitated toward when not pregnant (she's no stranger to bright colors and tight outfits). Personally, I hope to see more proud mamas fearlessly decorating their sexy pregnant bodies on the Grammys red carpet this year.