Kim Kardashian and The Policing of Pregnant Women’s Bodies

by | September 3, 2015
filed under Feminism

Cover of Star magazine with Kim Kardashian and headline "Pregnant Kim's Nightmare: 65-Lb Weight Gain!"The American Tabloid Star recently published an article alleging the pregnant famous person Kim Kardashian has gained 65 pounds since beginning gestation of her second child. Indeed, several times a week, I see articles and blog posts devoted to analyzing Kardashian’s pregnant physique, and speculating about how many pounds she’s  put on.

In fact, I think more time is being spent analyzing whether Kardashian ass has gotten bigger than analyzing Canada’s federal election polls.

Pregnant bodies are policed bodies. Pregnant women are told they cannot drink, eat soft cheese, enjoy sushi, etc. They are also told not to be too intense about their workouts or too restrictive about their diets, and then in the next breath they are told not to gain more than 20 pounds. We ask pregnant women in contemporary North American society to sacrifice so much, to be constantly in control of their bodies, and frankly, our standards are so high we often set them up for failure.

I have no idea how much weight Ms. Kardashian has gained during her second pregnancy, and I’m quite sure the tabloids don’t know either. I’m not here to say that Kardashian is a victim of a celebrity-obsessed culture, because it is only in a world where we are so very obsessed with celebrities that a reality star like Ms. Kardashian gets to be quite as wealthy and influential as she is.

I believe she seeks fame and enjoys it, and I do not judge her for it. At the same time, while I understand that people want to see pictures of her and hear about her life, I’m not sure why there is so much mockery and vitriol regarding her pregnant body.

Our society’s uneasiness with pregnancy weight gain is indeed disturbing. Rather than celebrating that someone is accomplishing one of the most physically arduous of human feats – growing a new human with their body, we mercilessly mock pregnant people when we see evidence on their figures of the fetus trying to gestate in there in peace – a fetus which yes, has to take up a lot of space by the end. 

Is it that we as a society are still so deeply uncomfortable with women’s sexuality that any time their bodies actually show evidence of having reproduced, we get uneasy, and react by shaming them? In this regard, are fat shaming and slut shaming more similar than many people think?

I’m not sure why we as a society feel the need to fat shame pregnant women for doing what pregnancy forces upon them – getting bigger. The lambasting of Kim Kardashian, however, illustrates that this is a conversation we need to keep having as long as pregnant people are made fun of for the crime of “looking pregnant.”

Photo of pregnant woman’s abdomen by shirley binn (originally posted to Flickr as Baby belly 194) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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