Leave Kim alone: why body shaming pregnant women has to stop

Weighty issues ... Kim Kardashian's body has been under fire from gossip magazines since falling pregnant.
Weighty issues ... Kim Kardashian's body has been under fire from gossip magazines since falling pregnant. 

Look, I’m not a particularly big fan of Kim Kardashian. Her clearly scripted reality show is moronic and manipulative, her fur coats are reprehensible and I think peplums are a poor choice in maternity fashion.

But. BUT. No one deserves the sort of public body shaming Kim Kardashian has been facing since becoming pregnant with Kanye West’s baby.

In an incredibly nasty cover story in Star magazine two weeks ago, Kim was chided for her transformation from “bombshell to mom hell”. The magazine quoted an insider saying that Kim is obsessed with food, “waking up in the middle of the night and binge eating.” Somehow the editorial team at Star manages to sleep at night despite printing the phrase "her shapely derriere has morphed into a sagging, dimply blob".

"I can't stop eating!" ... Kim was the <i>In Touch</i> cover girl in late March.
"I can't stop eating!" ... Kim was the In Touch cover girl in late March. 

This week, fellow US tabloid In Touch has managed to top them in the bullying stakes, using the cover line "I Can't Stop Eating!" beside pictures of Kim looking miserable with a broken zipper.

Just in case we’re not feeling repulsed enough by her quite normal pregnant frame, In Touch helpfully provides photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge side by side with Kim, gleefully noting that Kate is “HALF KIM’S SIZE!”

What the magazine neglects to mention is that Kim is only 1.57m tall, compared to Kate’s willowy 1.78m frame which gives the duchess much more room to carry her baby. It could also be argued that Kate was underweight before she conceived, and then suffered from hyperemisis for at least the first few months of pregnancy, depleting what little fat stores she may have had.

"Open wide" ... <i>In Touch</i> magazine criticised Kim's eating style. (Image courtesy of Jezebel.com)
"Open wide" ... In Touch magazine criticised Kim's eating style. (Image courtesy of Jezebel.com) 

While women’s bodies are apparently always up for discussion, expectant celebrities have previously been seen as off-limits. It’s a new dimension of media scrutiny as commentators show faux concern over the size of a woman’s stomach – and thighs. Not only are famous mothers supposed to be “bikini ready” six weeks after birth (surely they can afford a personal trainer? A nanny? A chef?), they’re expected to be slim and sexy while pregnant, too.

Jessica Simpson is a high-profile example of a woman who refused to maintain a tidy, MILFish bump, gaining a decent proportion of weight for reasons that are none of our business. (She’s also on the shorter side, which means it is very obvious when she is carrying an extra 9kg of baby, placenta and fluid on her front.)

There are no winners in this game. Sure, while the Duchess of Cambridge has maintained a slender figure as she heads in to her fifth month of pregnancy, it has only caused tabloids to fret over her baby’s health and safety (it’s okay, I’m sure she can afford a good obstetrician).

Kate vs Kim ... The magazine compared two women with vastly different body shapes. (Image courtesy of Jezebel.com)
Kate vs Kim ... The magazine compared two women with vastly different body shapes. (Image courtesy of Jezebel.com) 

It is mean and dangerous for magazines to chide Kim for not dieting during pregnancy. Star’s ‘insider’ says that Kim “wakes up every morning, hits the gym, has a protein smoothie” and then by noon, her "hunger cravings hit full force". But this is NORMAL. It’s great that Kim is apparently exercising in pregnancy; it’s good for her health and will help in labour. But for goodness sake, let her eat after her workout without the judgement. It’s called lunch – most people eat it, pregnant or not.

While being obese in pregnancy carries its own risks (and Kim is definitely not obese), limiting calories during pregnancy carries extreme risks as well. Mums who gain less than the recommended 11-15kg while pregnant may have an increased chance of delayed fetal growth, gestational diabetes, labour complications, miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. And babies born to underweight mothers may experience respiratory complications, liver problems and heart damage.

Being too skinny for your body type while pregnant is nothing to aim for, so let’s stop pillorying women who fail to live up to these dangerous standards. Unless you are actually Kim Kardashian’s doctor, your opinion on the size of her uterus, or what she ate for lunch, is completely irrelevant.