A LOT has changed over the years and most things that were previously considered taboo have seemingly become a normal way of life.
For instance, it is now not unusual to witness pregnant women having maternity photo shoots while semi-naked or, in some instances, completely naked.
Such photos have become a common feature on social media platforms.
We will not bother to list other “weird” things happening in society, but believers have been left wondering if the supposed transgressions are not signs of the prophesied end times.
However, non-conformists see nothing wrong with the current trends and attribute everything to a “smooth transition” into global village culture.
Lawyer and fashion designer Varaidzo Nyakunika said boldly displaying her baby bump was a way of celebrating the greatness of a woman’s body.
“It had nothing to do with countering body changes. I wanted to have beautiful pictures as memories of when my body was creating magic!” said the 30-year-old Nyakunika.
“I did maternity shoots for both my children; one in 2019 and the other in 2021. As an individual always behind the lenses, I truly enjoyed when I had cameras snapping shots of me carrying my precious little ones,” she told The Sunday Mail Society.
Maternity photography presents a beautiful opportunity to capture glowing pregnant women right before the arrival of a new baby.
However, with the passage of time, the process — displaying baby bumps in photoshoots — now involves nudity, which is causing uneasiness among some.
International celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Keke Palmer, Mariah Carey, Kylie Jenner, Chrissy Tegan and Nicki Minaj are arguably advocates of the latest “craze”.
The A-grade stars have either revealed their baby bumps at top awards shows or on the social media, where some have created albums.
Locally, we have Tyra “Madam Boss” Chikocho, Rose Mahachi, Samantha Tshuma (former Miss Tourism Zimbabwe), Samantha “MisRed” Musa, and Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, who have set social media ablaze after revealing their bumps. Expectant mothers who are not famous have also joined the bandwagon, posing semi-naked or naked on the social media for a few likes and comments.
The “Duduke Challenge” — popularised by Nigerian musician Simi in 2020 — had many pregnant women making videos of themselves dancing and showing off their protruding bellies.
While several women from all walks of life are making a beeline to their favourite photographers for these pregnancy shoots — and posting pictures on the social media — the trend has received a fair share of criticism, especially from the older generation.
However, Nyakunika believes this is a positive development that has made her a successful businessperson.
Local maternity shoots cost between US$50 and US$400 for an hour-long session, which is almost similar to charges in the United States.
But the charges can be much higher depending on the status of the clients involved.
“I saw a niche within the pregnancy market and realised that women wanted to create memories of their pregnancies. I sought to make that process easy by providing pregnant women with fabulous and pretty maternity dresses to hire for their photo shoots or baby showers.
“Clients are usually ‘once off’ because, when they have their baby (babies), they no longer need the maternity dresses,” said the founder of Pretty and Preggy shop, which caters for fabulous maternity dresses for hire and sale.
“The good news is, mummies-to-be are ditching the shapeless tent-like outfits and embracing stylish clothes.
“Pregnant women are breaking the fashion shackles with confidence. And their choices must be accepted and respected in society,” said Nyakunika.
The new craze has become a subject of intense debate, both in society and on the social media.
Some sections believe it is uncultured, taboo and disrespectful to in-laws for pregnant women to pose semi-nude.
“Zimbabwean culture is very conservative and that is the main reason that has left some people in our community unable to open up to the idea of maternity shoots. I, however, think that it is important to clarify that not all maternity shoots are ‘inappropriate’ or ‘revealing’.
“Ladies can be fully covered from head to toe and still create flattering memories for themselves and their families. To this day, my pregnancy pictures are displayed in our family home and I love showing my kids that they were once in mummy’s tummy,” said Nyakunika.
Not all men are open to this idea and it has often created rifts.
Socialite and fitness trainer Michelina Chindiya, better known as Miss Chindiya, recently set the internet ablaze after sharing her maternity photos on Instagram.
The fitness trainer and content creator has at least 60 000 followers on the platform.
On X, Solomon Harudzibwi defended Chindiya, arguing that “so much is put into creating such shoots, from a beautiful wife, money to afford a good photographer and range in terms of creativity”.
However, conservatives argued it was improper for Chindiya, a married and pregnant woman, to pose for the camera in lingerie.
“We should not be doing this in our culture. In the Zimbabwean context, married women are expected to carry themselves in a certain way,” commented one of the X users.
While the deliberation was two-way, points against seemed to dominate as most Zimbabweans are yet to embrace the idea of semi-nude maternity shoots.
Tracy Maisiri, an expectant mother, said she had no qualms with maternity shoots.
“I think it is an individual’s choice. But there is basically no difference between a woman showing a baby bump and a woman who wears revealing clothes. Personally, I can do a semi-nude maternity shoot; in fact, I am seriously considering one.”
Aaron Mandizha spoke against it.
“There is no way I will ever allow my wife to pose semi-nude or nude. If she defies me on this one, that will be the end of our marriage,” he boldly declared.
However, his colleague was a bit flexible.
“I think we need to embrace modernity. There is nothing wrong with what these women are doing since all essential details will be covered,” said the colleague.
Gabriel Mudede (65), who has two daughters-in-law, shared his sentiments.
“It would be unfortunate if one of them was to pose nude and make public the photos for whatever reason. It will definitely change a lot in the way we relate,” said Mudede.
Revered social commentator Dr Rebecca Chisamba notes pregnant women are now losing morals due to their desire to follow foreign trends.
“It is important for us to move with the times but let us be selective. As elders, we should be in the forefront of driving the narrative we want as Africans, instead of folding our hands in disbelief,” said Dr Chisamba.
“As the older generation, our heart bleeds when we see the young naked women. The world is changing in a way that we are not anticipating.”
Traditionalist Gogo Mandeya, who hails from Epworth, reckons the need to be guided by our past.
“This is Africa; we have our own practices that differ with those from other parts of the world. Showing off a baby bump may lead to dire consequences like miscarriages or misfortunes,” she warned.
Cultural expert Chief Victor Saunyama urged the public to shun negative foreign influences. “We are slowly losing our identity by copying other people’s cultures. These women are becoming comfortable with unacceptable behaviour.
“The body of a woman should never be seen by someone who has not paid bride price. What is happening is shocking as pregnancy should be considered sacred and women must be cautious in every single way,” he said.
Pastor Batsirayi Denga shared some scriptures that speak against nudity.
“Nudity is the opposite of biblical recommendations on how women must dress. This new trend, caused by peer pressure and lack of wholeness, is unacceptable in our society. Women must be guided by Philippians 4:8, which promotes upholding of righteous behaviour,” he said. Sunday Mail