Naomi Campbell’s Feminist Pregnancy

Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week Kate Cornforth considers Naomi Campbell’s recent birth announcement.

Naomi Campbell for British Vogue ‘Motherhood On Her Own Terms’  https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/naomi-campbell-british-vogue-interview

‘How DID Naomi Campbell welcome a daughter at 50?’[1]

“I can count on one hand the number of people who knew that I was having her,”[2] Naomi Campbell has appeared this week on the front cover of VOGUE with the title of her exclusive interview, ‘Motherhood On Her Own Terms’, and I, like thousands of others, immediately wondered: How has she done it? Can people have babies in their 50s?

Then I challenged myself.

As a scholar researching the representation of the pregnant body, I am fanatical about questioning why pregnant bodies remain confined to ideologies under the eye of public scrutiny. I argue that there is a ‘dominant pregnancy script’, seen in fiction, film and on social media that impacts on, and restricts, how one is not born, but rather becomes, a mother.[3] Naomi Campbell has become a mother, and people are concerned about ‘how?’ because she has not conformed to the dominant pregnancy script, or patriarchal ideal of pregnancy and parenthood that means that to ‘do’ pregnancy correctly is to be heterosexual, able-bodied, financially stable, and, unlike Naomi Campbell, the ‘correct’ age.

Breaking down the dominant pregnancy script

Naomi Campbell has broken the dominant pregnancy script and followed ‘her own’ feminist pregnancy script.[4] The focus of my research, the Feminist Pregnancy Script (FPS), challenges the ‘dominant pregnancy script’ of the past and encourages choice throughout pregnancy. Campbell’s approach to her own pregnancy epitomises the FPS: Vogue highlights how she continues to be ‘a force for change and to demand greater Black representation in an industry long criticised for its lack of diversity’. The FPS is just such a ‘force for change’, challenging people’s perceptions of pregnancy, ultimately underlining that there is no ‘correct’ way to do pregnancy.

More than that, though, the FPS is not only for pregnant people. It emphasises the importance of the behaviour and attitudes of non-pregnant people. For change to happen, there must be a cultural shift in others’ attitudes toward the pregnant body: judgemental discourse around pregnancy can be dismantled by celebrating diverse, feminist pregnancies.

No but really, how did she do it?

Screen capture of the top articles on Google when searching ‘Naomi Campbell’.

‘Pregnant bodies are public bodies, so pregnant women are also regulated by others – health-care professionals, family members, friends, and even strangers.’[5]

First the pregnant body is under constant scrutiny; then how one chooses to mother or parent is up for examination shortly after. The newspaper articles say it all: ‘She wasn’t adopted – she’s my child’ and ‘Naomi Campbell confirms baby daughter is not adopted’. The Daily Mail’s ‘Femail’ section has been quick to ‘reveal how she could have cleverly hidden a bump after fertility treatment or used a surrogate to carry her child’.[6]

Instead of wondering ‘how?’ we should ask ‘why do we care?’. Naomi Campbell is on the front cover of a major magazine; a Black mother who has not conformed to the dominant pregnancy script. Let’s reach the point where we all follow the Feminist Pregnancy Script, where we congratulate rather than challenge, celebrate rather than scrutinise.

Be more feminist.


Kate is a PhD student from the Institute of Gender Studies at the University of Chester, U.K. Her thesis, Following a Feminist Pregnancy Script: The Representation of the Pregnant Body in Contemporary Fiction, Film and on Social Media focuses on the struggles that pregnant people face during the gestation and postpartum period, particularly when the pregnancies are ‘unborn’, ‘unheard’ or ‘unsaid’. With her past work including The Representation of Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel, she is keen to research the literature, film and social media of today to understand what it is like to be pregnant in 2022, and to conceptualise a new theory called the ‘feminist pregnancy script’, an inclusive guide for all types of pregnancy.


[1] Stephanie Linning, How DID Naomi Campbell welcome a daughter at 50? (2022) <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10514323/How-DID-Naomi-Campbell-welcome-daughter-50.html&gt; [accessed 15 February 2022]

[2] Sarah Harris, A Model Parent: Naomi Campbell Opens Up About Motherhood On Her Own Terms (2022) <https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/naomi-campbell-british-vogue-interview&gt; [accessed 15 February 2022]

[3] A re-visioning of Simone de Beauvoir’s famous: ‘one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman’.

[4] Harris, A Model Parent: Naomi Campbell Opens Up About Motherhood On Her Own Terms

[5] Elena Neiterman, and Bonnie Fox, ‘Controlling the unruly maternal body: Losing and gaining control over the body during pregnancy and the postpartum period’, Social Science and Medicine, 174, (2016), 142-148, <https://www-sciencedirect-com> [accessed 4 March 2019], p. 145.

[6] Linning, How DID Naomi Campbell welcome a daughter at 50?

Forget Leaving Room for Jesus: Fornication and Community Control in Transitional New England

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This month, Frances Norman, a final year undergraduate student at the University of Hertfordshire, shares some insights into pre-marital sexual behaviour and pregnancy in the Atlantic world.

In July 1791 Sally Peirce ‘Swore a Child’ on Jonathon Ballard, the son of Martha Ballard, an eighteenth-century New England midwife who recorded her life across almost 10,000 diary entries. [1] Sally’s child was born in October of the same year and she and Jonathon married in January 1792. The eighteenth-century was a transitional period for sexual control across America and within New England, which was more sexually restrictive than urban areas of the country. [2] Sally’s pregnancy offers insight into premarital sexual relationships, as well as the role of community and familial control in courtship, pre-marital relationships, and the wider policing of sexuality.

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Black Mothers Matter: Social Media can Shift the Agenda for Black Maternal Health

On 25th May 2020 the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black American man, by police officer Derek Chauvin, sent social media into an uproar that reignited the Black Lives Matter Movement. The use of the global hashtag ‘#BLM’ was everywhere: through television, newspaper and social media news headlines. A week later, on Tuesday 2nd June there was a viral ‘blackout’ on Instagram, where ’28 million users posted a plain black square along with the hashtag #blackouttuesday’ to support the black community.1 

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Pregnancy Loss: A Note on Language

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week, to coincide with Baby-loss awareness week, Karolina Kuberska writes about the importance of language in discussions about pregnancy loss. 

Baby-Loss-Awareness-Week-2017-Profile-Pic-resized

There are many difficult aspects to the experience of pregnancy loss; even the most articulate people may struggle to capture the emotional chaos or to accurately describe what it is that they have lost. While distinctions are made by professionals working in medicine and English law between miscarriage (up to 23 weeks and 6 days), stillbirth (from the 24th week), and terminations, these categories may not readily translate into how some people perceive what has happened to them: that their baby has died or that they have lost future hopes and dreams.

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Open the womb to receive seed again

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week Amy Kenny explores why superfetation was removed from The Comedy of Errors.

“Open the womb to receive seed again”: Removing superfetation from The Comedy of Errors

In the source material for The Comedy of Errors, Alcmena becomes pregnant with twins fathered by two different male suitors, a medical condition known as superfetation.[1]  Those familiar with The Comedy of Errors will recall no such plot twist in Shakespeare’s play.  So what accounts for the change in dramatizing gestation? What can this switch suggest to us about the play’s portrayal of pregnancy and twins?  Throughout the early modern period, multiple births were often considered suspicious because they played on the cultural anxiety surrounding gratuitous female sexuality.  If a woman could commit adultery even while pregnant, fathers feared the paternity of their heirs.

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