Rihanna revealing her pregnancy at the Super Bowl 2023 halftime show currently has the internet in a chokehold. She performed atop several platforms suspended above the field with wires, and showed off her baby bump on the most iconic stage possible.
As a certified member of music royalty, Riri’s announcement quite literally stole the show like few others could have. But her big reveal is part of a rising trend of how celebrities are choosing to share parts of their personal lives with the world.
Keke Palmer showed off her baby bump for the first time during her Saturday Night Live monologue. Although Kylie Jenner kept her pregnancy a secret until the birth of her daughter Stormi, she later shared a compilation of home videos dedicated to her daughter.
Revealing big milestones with grandeur might seem frivolous and unnecessary to some, but in reality, it is a way for celebrities to take control of their public image and the narrative surrounding it. It allows them to reach their audience through a medium of their choosing. And it says a lot about our parasocial relationships with them. It is not out of the ordinary for fans to want to know the finer details of their favourite celebrity’s lives – this desire is at the heart of any parasocial relationship. But concerns of privacy have led celebrities to take measures that will put them in a position of control when it comes to publicising their personal lives.
— Jason Lee (@theonlyjasonlee) December 17, 2022
In December, Rihanna approached Hollywood Unlocked editor Jason Lee and asked him to release exclusive first photos of her and A$AP Rocky’s baby before the paparazzi could. They had allegedly taken photos of her child without her consent. Although Rihanna never should have been put in that position to begin with, the move was effective as damage control. It became a way to salvage a situation where the paparazzi had violated her privacy and that of her child.
Other celebrities like Blake Lively and Gigi Hadid have asked paparazzi not to take photos of their children or to blur their faces when they do. While paparazzi culture itself has received criticism from many, they believe that when it comes to children who cannot consent and did not choose their parents’ lifestyle, it crosses a line.
Rihanna’s announcement is thus the perfect way for her to reclaim her narrative and share her lives with her fans in a manner that she has complete control over. Whether it is during a performance, through an extravagant photoshoot or at an event, the celebrity pregnancy announcement has evolved into a cultural phenomenon in its own right.