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Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?

By Kristen Thompson

Pregnant and scale

Enough. Please I’m begging: Enough.

Enough with the sensational magazine cover stories about celebrity pregnancy weight gain. As if this is news (it isn’t). As if it’s our right to stand at the grocery store checkout and gawk (it isn’t). As if what’s happened to these women’s bodies is unnatural (it’s not).

For the record, none of this is okay:

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Would we do this to someone we love? Would we take to the family blog with pictures of our sister’s growing baby bump and a headline that says, “Sarah’s weight shame!”? Can you imagine doing such a thing?

Why is it okay, then, to shame these women? Because they are celebrities and strangers, and therefore less? Because they are more beautiful than us, so when they falter it makes us feel better about ourselves? Because suddenly they have become average (and by average I mean imperfect), and whenever celebrities fall down to our level, it’s considered news? It isn’t news. Women’s bodies should never be news.

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These articles are as true a form as bullying as anything I can think of, and magazines are making a profit by embarrassing women. Not just celebrities. All women.

When we see these articles, we – the people to whom magazines are marketing their product – feel bad about ourselves, because we look like this when we are pregnant, too. By fat shaming celebrities, magazines are fat shaming all of us. Because of magazines like this, I’ve heard girls say they never want to have a baby because they don’t want to get “fat.” I’ve seen moms in my online groups obsess over every pound they gain as their babies grow inside them. I’ve heard family members scold pregnant women for getting too big, too fast. And I’ve heard women praise other mothers for their small baby bellies. As if the round bulge we are carrying in front of us is from binge-eating. It isn’t, of course. It’s a human child.

But because of these magazines, we look at our growing bellies and feel shame instead of joy. We say things like “I feel like a whale” or “I’m as big as a house.” We are learning that we are gross as we grow. That there is a tiny margin of acceptable weight gain and anyone who falls above or below that line (Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham, Miranda Kerr and Gisele Bundchen were slammed for being too thin) has a problem.

Should we should exercise more? Have you ever had to take a taxi four blocks because the weight of the child you carry inside you has left you winded and near-crippled?

Should we should eat better? Have you ever been driven to the fridge at 4 in the morning because the tiny person you are growing leaves you starved for calories and craving foods you didn’t even know existed?

We’ve created an impossible ideal that not even Hollywood’s wealthiest and most beautiful can live up to.

But judgment and gossip sells.

And something that is beautiful can be made ugly.

And of course after these women have had their babies, we publish cover stories about how quickly they have shed the baby weight, praising them for their flat bellies and “amazing post-baby” bodies.

I see these photos and I wither a bit inside, as I feel the pinch of my too-tight jeans.

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Again, this shames us. Because the rest of us don’t look like this at three months postpartum. In fact, the rest of us may never look like this again. We have grown, stretched, been made wider and softer to grow and sustain our babies. We cringe at the impossible folds of flesh that hang over our previously perfect-fitting pants. We are stricken with panic at the idea of having to wear a bathing suit and, with lumps in our throats, pack our bikinis away because why would we ever want to show our mid-drifts when you make it clear that the tiny white lines that zig-zag across our bellies like a road map are offensive and disgusting?

We’ve done something difficult and beautiful. And we’ve sacrificed our bodies to create life. This is an even bigger sacrifice for the women who make their living off their bodies.

But don’t celebrate them, whatever you do. Persecute them.

What a shameful industry.

What are your thoughts?

Do you think it’s okay to criticize celebrities and their bodies given that they put themselves into the public eye and make a living off their looks?

How do you feel when you see magazines outing celebrities for their physical flaws? Whether it be pregnancy weight gain, botched boob jobs, bikini cellulite or too-thin paparazzi shots?

Have you had a baby? How do you feel about your body now? What changes did it go through?

Other reads:

OK! magazine apologies for cover on Duchess of Cambridge’s post-royal baby diet. Click here

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