Earlier this May, Preeti Moberg asked an artist to apply henna on her palms, feet—and her baby bump.
An expecting mother of Indian origin, Moberg, who lives with her husband in San Francisco, California, wanted to feel like a bride again. And so, she did a maternity shoot wearing henna tattoos, glitters, heavy jewellery and sari.
The centrepiece of her pictures is the mandala—a circular figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism—drawn on her 36-week pregnant belly.
Henna—or mehendi—is tattoo-like colouring of hands and feet in beautiful designs and patterns, commonly practiced during weddings in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East.
In India, maternity shoots, considered as a more Western concept, are still uncommon. As an Indian-American wedding blogger and co-founder of The Big Fat Indian Wedding, a blog about South Asian weddings, Moberg wanted to stand out.
“Being (from) a more conservative culture, we wanted to break the cultural, patriarchal, superstitious elements,” she told Quartz. “It’s okay to be happy and proud and show off your belly. It’s okay to wear mehendi for something more than just a wedding. It’s okay to get dressed up in whatever colors you want.”
“I didn’t want women to feel that they had to play along some imaginary lines we made on how pregnancy is displayed in society,” she said. “You should be thrilled, and how you set up maternity photos (whether professionally or with an iPhone) is entirely up to you.”
Quartz brings you a selection of images from Moberg’s maternity shoot by photographer Shhivika Chauhan. Moberg and her husband had a baby boy in June.
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