Kim Kardashian has started to “show” a considerable amount more lately now that she is entering the last trimester of what is arguably deemed the pregnancy of the year. I’m not exactly sure of the exact audience that is particularly thrilled about all the “news” coverage this pregnancy has birthed, but what has been particularly interesting is how much these reports are “showing” once again that the media dictates and controls women’s bodies.
Many entertainment magazines and television shows have started to regularly fixate on Kim’s “struggle” with her weight gain during pregnancy, with some magazines touting that she now weighs over two hundred pounds. Even as I am writing this, an ad popped up on my Facebook claiming that there is sister rivalry between the Kardashians, as Khloe slims down while Kim keeps growing. Despite Kim clearing up the rumours, by saying that she has only put on twenty pounds so far in her pregnancy, the media has claimed that she has grown obsessed with working out and dieting in the hopes of not gaining too much weight from pregnancy. These tabloids are claiming that Kim misses her “hot” body so much, that her alleged extreme dieting and workout efforts are in an effort to maintain her famous curvy physique even while pregnant.
Typically, when a high profile female celebrity gains weight, the immediate responses from tabloids explode with attention grabbing headlines stating that the starlet is pregnant. Nevermind that they may be a tad bloated from lunch or carrying water weight; fabricating these stories about a pregnancy is the most shock-worthy detail about their lives that any news outlet can rely on to sell covers. However, when a celebrity is actually pregnant, the reverse is true: their weight gain during pregnancy becomes the most shock-worthy detail of their lives. Their changing bodies are something that the public likes to witness, which feeds into fat-shaming culture that celebrities are already immersed in.
What is so shocking about celebrities gaining weight during pregnancy? Why are we, as a society, so shocked by this fact of life? It is not shocking that a woman will gain some weight during her pregnancy—it is absolutely necessary for some weight gain to happen, as the body needs more nutrients and sustenance to be able to effectively care for the child while it undergoes a significant physical transformation. All of our mothers had to put on weight to be able to carry us and they had no choice but to look more “filled in.” It is impossible for a woman to look slim during pregnancy. It is unreasonable to hold any woman up to this standard as being pregnant is stressful enough as it is. To slam a woman’s body during arguably the most natural physical transition of her life is to transfer more stress onto the body, which can be harmful to the growing fetus and the mother herself. As a result, the ideal of motherhood and the cultural expectation of a “slim-waist,” send conflicting messages about how a woman should feel about her own body. We congratulate women who are expecting their little bundles of joy, yet we make their lives miserable by our close surveillance and scrutiny of every new pound. As a society, we feel as though we have a right to comment and critique their bodies, taking note of each fluctuation and increase in size.
To scrutinize Kim’s weight gain, regardless of how much she has gained or how you personally feel about her, is an extension of the war between our patriarchal society and a woman’s uterus. Because Kim is allegedly putting on more weight than needed during pregnancy, the tabloids are saying that it is unnatural for women to be pregnant. Paradoxically, the same society that encourages women to have babies criticizes the process of pregnancy as a degradation to “beauty” and “attraction.” Tabloid magazines communicate to the public vicariously through Kim Kardashian that women will be shamed for their bodies during pregnancy, and that their pregnant bodies are not valued because they are no longer deemed sexually attractive. They are saying that women cannot be beautiful during pregnancy, that women will be verbally assailed with nine months of body shaming, and that somehow the perpetuation of these ideas is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
Gloria Steinem recently defended Kim Kardashian, in stating that, “Our bodies are never public property under any circumstance. Our bodies belong to us.” Even after Kim has the baby, we are in no place to tell her to lose the baby weight. Although she is a person of the public, she does not and will never belong to us. We have no right to tell her how to use her body, pregnant or not.
Just for the record:
A pregnant woman is not Shamu. She is a human being. There should be no confusion.