entertainment

Memo to pregnant women: DO NOT get fat.

By MIA FREEDMAN

It wasn’t until I googled “Kim Kardashian fat pregnant” that I saw it. Truly, I’d had no idea the media abuse of the reality star was so grotesque. And before you click away from this story because you don’t care about Kim Kardashian, stop. This isn’t about her. It’s about all of us.

An obsession with the weight of famous people is not new. It’s been driving ratings, selling magazines, newspapers and diet products for decades. But this is different. Over the past few years the goal posts have moved and the new media fixation has become the weight of pregnant women and new mothers. They are the new sweet spot, their weight has become the new gossip commodity and it is disturbing, evil madness.

Take a look at this:

Let’s be very clear, the only purpose of drawing attention to the weight of a pregnant woman – unless you are her doctor –  is a pure play for insecurity. Not just hers but every other woman who has been pregnant, is pregnant or plans to be pregnant some day.

Sometimes when I give a speech about the ways media and marketers fail when they’re talking to women, one of my points is about the use of Photoshop and to illustrate it, one of the images I use is this:

The photo on the right appeared on the cover of a US gossip magazine a couple of weeks after Khourtney gave birth to her first child. The coverline that went with it was; “My diet secrets! How I lost 10lbs in 10 days”).

Well, it turns out that Khourtney didn’t give an interview to the magazine, or pose for that picture. It’s what’s known in mag-land as a ‘write-around’ which, in the case of gossip magazines, often means ‘fiction’. The image had been taken for something else and no, of course she hadn’t lost 10lbs (about 5kg) in 10 days.

As most mothers know, 10 days after having a baby you still look about 6 months pregnant. It takes 9 months to reach that size and it often takes the same to go back again – if you ever do. For many of us, our bodies are forever changed by the transformative, EXTRAORDINARY process of having a baby. Some women end up thinner, some bigger, some just a different shape.

But anyway – the point is that the magazine obtained an image, decided what angle they thought would sell magazines (the promise of impossibly fast weight loss) and chopped off her stomach to support their made-up story.

Vomit.

When I show that slide in my presentation, it always draws a mix of gasps and laughter from the audience. Yes, the way this Kardashian lost her baby weight was with a diet of Photoshop – which cut off her stomach with a single click.

Those in the audience who are amused by the before-and-after, laugh because they take it on face value – ha! how easy would it be if you could lose that much weight that fast! Hilarious, right?
“But it’s not actually funny,” I continue, “because nobody who sees that cover knows about the deception behind it. They don’t see the real photo. All they know is that this celebrity – and seemingly every new mother who appears on a magazine cover – has a flat stomach, weeks or even days after giving birth.

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“Any mothers in the room?” I ask next and there are invariably a few nods.

“Did your stomach look like that 10 days after giving birth?” Lots of wide eyes and vigorous head shaking.

“Hell, mine didn’t look like that 10 years after giving birth,” I agree. “And that’s the problem. Because every woman who’s had a baby looks at that image of the flat stomach and feels bad about herself. She feels fat. And every woman who hasn’t given birth, subconsciously registers that image (and all those just like it) in her mind and it helps to form her expectations of how she should look right after having a baby.”
See the problem here?

But now that’s not enough. Now the media is no longer content to target women after they’ve given birth, detailing every step of their success or failure to lose their ‘baby weight’ with smug photoshopped shoots or grainy, unflattering papparrazi pictures of new mothers loading groceries or venturing wearily out for coffee pushing a pram.

The disgusting new tabloid frontier is watching the weight of famous women during their pregnancies, and then taunting, mocking and even abusing them with snarky headlines and humiliating photos comparing them to whales.

What the actual fuck. In what universe did it become acceptable for the media to mock and humiliate pregnant women? Oh, this one. The one we live in. The one that finds it hilarious to speculate that Kim Kardashian’s entire pregnancy is an elaborate sham to cover the fact she’s ‘just fat’ due to “binges on pasta, cake, and ice cream.”‘. They also claim she ‘hates her body’.

Gee. I can’t imagine why that would be.

Again, this is not just about Kim Kardashian.

The disgusting manner in which she is being treated by a media (and I include some websites and social media in this, it’s not just US gossip magazines) to whom the only acceptable pregnancy weight is ‘tiny’ with bigger boobs and a cute volleyball sized ‘bump’ (tangent: God, I hate that word) is an insult to all of us. Not to mention the media’s after-baby benchmark that now seems to involve walking down a Victoria’s Secret runway in a push-up bra, g-string and giant angel wings.

Is our appearance so inextricably linked to our value that not even when growing a human being inside us are we exempt from the ridiculously narrow constraints of what a ‘hot’ woman is mean to look like?

Well, I think that looks a lot like misogyny which is strange given that the target audience for these magazines and onlin commentary is squarely women. Surely, it’s time to say enough. Time to stop targeting the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life when it comes to body image: adolescence, pregnancy, post-partum.

Because what Kim Kardashian – or any other pregnant woman weighs – is none of our bloody business.

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