For sure, every culture had its stage of heavy, conservative maternity wear. It was almost taboo to be fashionable and show off the curve of the belly–and shape of the body–while pregnant. China is still behind the times for a number of other reasons as well. The one-child policy made women secretive about their pregnancies, looking to hide a bump, not show it off. Also, very strangely, “anti-radiation” clothing has been a huge trend in maternity wear, exclusively in China and a few other Asian countries. There’s zero proof that it works, but women here tend to wear relatively fashionable versions of the metal aprons you put on when getting an X-ray. Forty percent of maternity wear in China is still marketed as “radiation proof”.
Blogger Ruth Silbermayr-Song was encouraged to try this fashion for another reason. On her blog, China Elevator Stories, a friend encouraged her to wear the signature clothing to get a seat in the subway. Terribly nauseated, but not showing her bump yet, she wanted a way to be recognized as pregnant. However, most of us who come from overseas don’t want to look like an extra from The Handmaiden’s Tale. So, what’s a pregnant foreign lady to do?
H&M is a go to for many women. They always have a good selection of stretchy tops and dresses to slide fashionably over that little (or not so little) bump. Pregnant lady Janice Zheng tried to visit some maternity stores around Shenzhen, like Octomama in All City, but the prices were shockingly high and while there were some non-frumpy choices, they tended to go too far in the other direction, with too much “crazy bling, rhinestones, and diamantes”.
Everyone raves about Asos, which claims to deliver to China. Online commenters complained that deliveries were lost or delayed for several months, which is probably a result of the overall hassle of getting things delivered here from overseas. Shenzhen moms tend to hop over to Hong Kong a lot, where the maternity wear selection is almost endless, from high end boutiques to nursing bras at Marks and Spencer’s.