The importance of staying true to ourselves

– a not-so-subtle message from Cardi B

Maybe it is the visuals—everyone I grew up with now has a baby—or the cheeky reminder by some that my biological clock is ticking, but now and more than ever, I find myself thinking of being a mother and the changes that will bring.

There is no single feeling that overwhelms me when I think of it. I daydream of the joy, acknowledge and ponder the responsibility, fear the physical changes and wonder profusely about the possible loss my original self. As clichéd as it sounds, a baby truly changes everything, and it is that alteration, the depths and magnitude of which are unknown until it occurs, that is often terrifying.

Along with the many other pressures women must often face, with motherhood, society somehow manages to force the sacrifice of almost everything else that once defined us and further shames us into feeling contemptible for wanting to not sacrifice our entire selves. While a fraction of this is arguably true and necessary for the wholesome development of a child, being one’s true self should not be lost in the quest to raise a good natured being. It is possible to do both.

Over the weekend when Cardi B confirmed her pregnancy, amidst the release of her highly-anticipated album ‘Invasion of Privacy’, it was a not-so-subtle reminder that we can shape and dress our realities to suit our lives.

For those who may not be aware, Cardi B swung dramatically from the stripper pole to worldwide stardom with her tongue-in-cheek viral videos, catchy rap lyrics and magnetic Instagram sass. She is just 25 years old, new to fame and the Rockstar lifestyle, but her reality is a dream for anyone in the music and creative arts industry.

It was no surprise that she often said she remains turned off by those who speculate that the addition of a baby would complicate her lifestyle. It is true that many so-called analysts have signalled that with the baby her career might well be over, since the music industry notoriously manufactures a new rapper every time someone’s buzz runs flat.

However, after her the announcement of her pregnancy via a performance on “Saturday Night Live”, her appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon and several interviews after, I am convinced by this woman’s sartorial style that personal identity can fruitfully co-exist with motherhood. While definitely not in the same dosages, it was the slideshow of looks she presented for her maternity style that got to me. They all screamed individuality and portrayed her journey to motherhood as one which includes her feelings, ambitions and love of self.

For her “Tonight Show” performance, Cardi, with prominent bump, channelled supermodel Linda Evangelista in a skintight, latex bodysuit with chunky gold jewelry and blonde pixie wig. It was her signature ‘bad gyal’ pose in the performance and her choice of inspirational muse for the look, which informed that having already accomplished in music, she will enter the new chapter of her life with the same energy. She came over as strong, vivacious and powerful.

Co-hosting the show with Fallon, she donned a Victorian top, a dusty-gold, satin knee-length duster and matching high-waist bottoms.

With the exception of her SNL performance, where her bump was on full display, her sartorial style neither hides nor emphasizes her pregnancy, but simply accommodates it. It is not hard to see therein the signals of her reassurance that honing her role as a mother does not mean her disappearance as a rapper.

Fashion is just one element and extension of ourselves. It may not be your thing, but the moral is still relative. It is not possible to exist happily if you lose, hide or are forced to curtail the essence of what makes you yourself.

Just as we choose our favourite clothing, we need to select the facets of ourselves that we really like and hold them close. Women need to be cognizant of the fact that it is society and its pressures that seek to force us to forget our identity in other to fit preset moulds. But without our identities who are we really? We can choose not to conform.

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