Dr. Alexia McClerkin on the strength of women and the inspiration behind her Wakanda-themed pregnancy photo shoot

What inspired you to have a Wakanda-themed baby photo shoot?

Alexia McClerkin: This whole pregnancy I have been trying to be outside of the box. With all of the hype around Black Panther I wanted to do something that would be epic and that would be timeless. Since I’ve been so active throughout the pregnancy and promoting health, what better way to demonstrate strength and confidence than with one of the most powerful, fearless and strongest characters? I wanted something that would have a “wow” factor and attract positive attention. So I reached out to my friend in Michigan who does body paint and told him my vision and he was beyond excited. He’d never painted a pregnant woman before and he hadn’t done anything with a Wakanda theme yet.

How long did it take for the artist to complete the finished look?

AM: There were a few difficulties with the painting because I couldn’t stand for really long periods without getting dizzy, so we alternated between sitting, standing, and at one point, lying down. It took about 3 hours and 45 minutes to achieve the finished look. I even ate a whole meal as he was painting me.

Did you have any concerns about using body paint in terms of risks to the baby?

AM: I didn’t have any concerns because I’d asked about the paint ahead of time, and it is non-toxic. When it came to spraying the paint, I covered my face. The spray was controlled so I was at ease.

What does your husband think about the look?

AM: When I first told him about my vision and what I wanted to do, his reply was, “why?” Once he saw the pictures he was actually speechless, which takes a lot because he’s very talkative. He absolutely loved it!

When your baby is older, what are you going to tell him about why you choose this theme? 

AM: When he is older I’ll explain that his mother was a warrior when she was pregnant with him and wanted something to exemplify that courageous mentality. I’ll tell him that he and his brother can do whatever they set their minds to because the sky is the limit.

What do you want other women to know about being strong and maintaining their health during pregnancy?

AM: My biggest recommendation is to consult with their doctor first. Activity also depends on fitness level prior to pregnancy. As a chiropractor and certified pre- and postnatal fitness specialist, I do not recommend anyone going out and starting a new fitness regimen if they weren’t active. However, a woman can still be strong and healthy through nutrition and light exercise such as chair exercises. Most importantly, throw on some lipstick, go for a walk, have fun and embrace pregnancy. Being pregnant is not a physical limitation and definitely not an excuse to be a couch potato.

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