During NYFW SS19, pregnant models were a definite "trend." Lily Aldridge graced the Brandon Maxwell runway, belly on full display in a fitted red gown. One of two pregnant models to walk in Savage X Fenty, Slick Woods went into labor backstage at Rihanna's show. And Mariah Lawson—an up-and-coming model walking Namilia, VFILES, Discount Universe, Slashed By Tia, and more—didn't even realize she was pregnant during the fashion mayhem. She just thought it was an "extra little juiciness" she was rocking, not a small human-to-be.
Recently, Lawson told me about not knowing she was pregnant while being fitted for the sheer ruffle-filled runway of Slashed by Tia: "It's funny because when she cast me, I went to the fitting [and] in my head I'm like, I'm going to do more abs." Lawson didn't find out she was pregnant until "about a month and a half after Fashion Week," when she had already returned home to Los Angeles. "I was shocked, scared, excited, and curious to know how this would affect not only my career but my personal life. It was a lot to take in."
Having so many visibly pregnant women hit the runway last season felt like a huge moment for inclusivity. "[Savage X Fenty] definitely opened up some doors for not only expecting models walking her show but models of different body types and ethnicities," Lawson said.
"The fashion world is a lot of trial and error, so there are things that we aren't used to that can be considered 'trends,'" Lawson said, and explained that some of these perceived trends may be "just new doors opening" to further inclusivity in the future, "from designer to model and everyone in between." But she doesn't expect to see a huge influx of pregnant models next season—after all, the visibility of pregnant models hardly carried over to this season, if at all. "I think seeing pregnant models on the runway may be a slow progression... From my experience, when it happens, you sort of want to take a seat and focus on the health of you and your baby. The extra stress and anxiety that may come from castings and shows can be a lot."
Lawson herself has signed with Expecting Models, a modeling agency specifically for pregnant women, and she told me, "Knowing what my limits were, working with an agency specifically for expecting mothers, definitely helped me stay active in booking jobs while pregnant." She added later that signing with Expecting Models, in addition to her other agencies Click Model Management and Elite L.A., "kept me feeling confident that, just because I was pregnant, this wasn't going to stop my career. There is a model needed for different things all across the board."
Lawson also said, "I think when people think of modeling they only think photo shoots and runway," which could lead them to assume that pregnancy means a career is over, or at least stalled. But to insiders like Lawson, pregnancy just added another opportunity for her to expand her career, and connect in a new way with her followers. She doesn't have to always be immersed in the chaos of the runway; she can take a moment to embrace motherhood as it becomes a reality and to share her transformation.
"To me, being a model is being a role model for those tuned into your journey. So it's important for me, and where I'm at in my career and where I have come from, to be as transparent to those who support and follow me," she told me. "My body changing hasn't changed that perspective. If anything, it's given me the mindset to go even harder to show myself and others that, when odds are against you, there is always a way to keep climbing up."
But Lawson doesn't plan to keep away from the runway much longer at all: "Like Cardi B said, 'I got a baby, I need some money.' So I'm going to keep grinding, keep pushing because my snapback goal is to be in New York for shows in September."