With the upcoming release of the 2013 Pirelli calendar, there’s further evidence that models are people—sort of. While pregnancy is widely seen as a career setback for most women, models are finding it to be a job-booking boon. Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima became the first model to pose pregnant for the exclusive Pirelli calendar, best known for its artful, images of iconic models in the nude. But Lima’s photograph signifies another Pirelli first: The 2013 edition features clothed models, who are wearing the fashionable dresses we’re accustomed to seeing them in.
Lima posed for photographer Steve McCurry this May while she was roughly five months pregnant. Her baby bump is prominent, as are her otherwise unremarkable shirt and bottom. McCurry’s choice to capture his subjects as they are, which entails them being as clothed as they come, was fitting for a photographer that was already a unique choice for Pirelli. While past calendar cameramen include fashion and celebrity photographers Patrick Demarchelier and Terry Richardson, McCurry is best known for his famous “Afghan Girl” photo that fronted National Geographic’s June 1985 issue.
“I would say I am a street photographer doing ‘found situations,’” McMurry told BuzzFeed. “You can photograph nudes anywhere. But these models are clothed, and each of them has her own charity. They are purposeful and idealistic people. So I wanted to photograph them in a special place, and Rio was perfect for this.”
The 2013 calendar reflects McCurry’s past work and subjects; it focuses on daily life in Brazil and features models known for their charity work. Because of this, the nude-free edition was somewhat ironically shot in the South American country known for its barely-there bathing suits and lax attitude towards nudity. Brazilian-born Lima joins Pirelli veteran Isabeli Fontana, singers, murals and other colorful subjects. The calendar, which was just unveiled in Rio de Janeiro, represents what McCurry intended to be a “calendar of the soul.”
Lima first modeled for the Pirelli calendar in 2005. In the 40 editions published since the first in 1964, the calendar has featured a mix of women, especially big-name models and actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Heidi Klum, Miranda Kerr, Daryl Hannah, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, Sienna Miller, Penélope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Julianne Moore and Gisele Bündchen. Fellow Brazilian (and former Victoria’s Secret angel) Bündchen herself was under the spotlight on pregnancy earlier this month when she was photographed on the beach in a skimpy bikini. The image was a mini sensation—her belly was bulging but the rest of her body was still model-thin. For models, it seems, pregnancy adds a glow but no superfluous poundage.
Perhaps this—models’ ability (or dedication) to staying fit while with child—accounts for why so many fashion houses and designers are embracing their fertile figures. They allow for a different type of diversity, while cashing in on the public’s fascination with one thing supermodels share with most grown women—pregnancy.
“Sexy moms,” as opposed to soccer moms, are already well-represented in Hollywood. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on magazine covers celebrating television’s teenage moms, celebrities’ burgeoning pregnant stomachs, quick post-partum weight loss, and the like. Fashion shows are also catching onto the allure of a pregnancy as a dynamic and relatable asset. New York Magazine documented a surge in pregnant runway models in 2010, noting Miranda Kerr’s Balenciaga appearance that year and Bündchen’s turn for Brazilian line Colcci in 2009. And just last year, Lily Aldridge and Alessandra Ambrosio were pregnant during last year’s Victoria’s Secret fashion show (though neither were visibly or publicly so).
Lima, by contrast, is the first pregnant Pirelli model, and her photograph ensures that everyone knows it. Pirelli, an Italian tire company, publishes the annual calendar through its U.K. subsidiary as a corporate gift to VIP clients and celebrities. Pregnancy: it’s desirable and profitable—but only if you’re a model.