Feb 6th, 2017, 09:54 PM

Pregnancy Selfies and Renaissance Art

By Anabel Bachour
Image credit: Beyoncé.
Are Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé Knowles pregnancy bump selfies descended from Renaissance paintings?

A few weeks ago, the planet was abuzz with news about Donald Trump whose inauguration was going viral on every social media platform. Then on February 1, Trump was dethroned, briefly, from his status as the top trending topic. There was bigger news: Beyoncé is pregnant.

Beyoncé Knowles, as known as Queen Bey, announced the happy news with an epic photo and heart-whelming caption on her official Instagram page. What's more exciting? She is expecting twins. 

Image Credit: Instagram/Beyoncé "We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two" 

The Instagram picture of Beyoncé's pregnancy was, in fact, a social media image in a long tradition of pregnancy iconography. The history behind pregnancy portraits stretches back to the Renaissance.  The famous Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, completed in 1434, is a full-length double portrait showing the Italian merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife in their home in the Flemish town of Bruges. Considered one of the most complex paintings in the history of arts, the Arnolfini Portrait has been studied and interpreted by experts for centuries.

While the woman, with one hand over her round belly, is often assumed to be pregnant, the question is still debated. Many argue that she is not pregnant and that her physique and posture was more common for Renaissance women who wore voluminous robes, not necessarily with child. Note that, in her Instagram photo, Beyoncé has the same hand posed on her pregnant belly.

Although Queen Bey is not the first celebrity to announce her pregnancy on social media, she is the first to receive massive global attention for her announcement. Even CNN had an alert on their application spreading the news. Yet, Beyoncé did not just settle for one Instagram bomb selfie. On her official website, she posted more than one photograph praising her pregnancy with the same caption "I HAVE THREE HEARTS."

International news outlets jumped all over the announcement — and some of them didn't miss the allusion to Renaissance art. The Daily Mail, not usually regarded as a highbrow newspaper, published an article drawing a link between Beyoncé's pregnancy photos in comparison with famous Renaissance paintings (see below), notably Guido Reni’s "Reclining Venus With Cupid" and Botticelli’s "The Birth of Venus".

Image Credit: Left Image: Guido Reni’s "Reclining Venus With Cupid". Right Image: Instagram/Beyoncé

Not only did Beyoncé take over Instagram, she also turned to Twitter. According to official Twitter Data,"Half a million Tweets about @Beyonce's surprise #twins announcement. It's been 45 minutes. (Spiked at 17k Tweets per minute.) 🍼🍼."  Luckily for Beyoncé, the responses and reactions to her pregnancy news and selfies were positive and encouraging. Beyoncé by almost everyone, I personally have never met anyone who did not like Queen Bey.

Image Credit: Left Image: Instagram/Beyoncé. Right Image: Botticelli’s "The Birth of Venus"

Another celebrity preceded Beyoncé with a similar nude pregnancy picture: Kim Kardashian. She posted a mirror selfie of her pregnancy bump when she was pregnant with her second child, Saint West. Kim K's point with her pregnancy selfie was to spread body positivity vibes about being pregnant. But what she got in return were insults and negative comments including demeaning body-shaming insults like "hoe" and "fatass". Proof, again, that Kardashian is not everyone's favorite celebrity. 

Poor Kim right? Let's remember that Kim tries to show her body whenever she finds an opportunity. Remember, too, that it was a sex tape that made her famous in the first place, followed by her reality TV show. Kim craves publicity. 

Image Credit: Left Image: Instagram/ Kim Kardashian Right Image: Instagram/Beyoncé

Even though Kim published her picture in August 2015, people returned to her picture as soon as Beyoncé published her pregnancy bump. Many shared their opinions on social media platforms saying they believe that Beyoncé did it better. Both KK and Queen Bey are icons, that can't be denied, but one is liked more than the other. The reason behind the animosity towards KK remains a mystery. When compared with Queen Bey, it's easy to question the popularity of Kim Kardashian.

Image Credit: Instagram/Kim Kardashian

Another celebrity is also having twins. Soon we will be welcoming two Clooney members to this world. George is expecting his babies from his recent wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Pretty sure they will be heart-breakers just like their father and mother. One girl and one boy are to be expected from the power couple.  But will we see a pregnancy bump photo on Instagram? Only time will tell. 

No matter the numerous scandals which arrive with celebrities and their children, the children are beautiful and look happy. That's all the matters in the end, right?