celebrity

EXPLAINER: The reason we haven't seen Kylie Jenner's 'baby bump' and maybe never will.

Since PEOPLE ‘confirmed’ her pregnancy in September, we’ve only seen Kylie Jenner from the neck up.

No more high-cut bikini selfies, cropped jumpers or latex pants. Now it’s all about her face, her make up. Oversized denim jackets and lip kits.

While we’ve all been watching her Instagram and Snapchats, waiting for her to bless us with her baby bump, the 20-year-old has kept her pregnancy unusually quiet for someone whose life and business are social media.

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But considering her sister was called a ‘killer whale’ who couldn’t stop ‘bingeing on pasta and cake’, can you really blame her?

There’s a right way and a wrong way to be pregnant when you’re a celebrity. This is fact. Unlike the rest of us, celebrity mum-to-bes should have a ‘cute pregnancy’, Buzzfeed’s Senior Culture Writer, Anne Helen Petersen told Mamamia’s Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast.

“A ‘cute pregnancy’… is when it looks like you’ve swallowed a basketball, and then you give birth and the basketball is gone,” she said.

“Kim Kardashian internalised the idea that that’s the kind of pregnancy she could achieve if she planned right, but bodies don’t listen to plans.”

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A ‘cute pregnancy’ – as defined by those standards – was one Kim Kardashian-West didn’t have. And the media made sure she knew it.

In 2013, a meme circulated the internet. ‘Who Wore It Best?’, it read, with a side-on cropped image of Kardashian-West pregnant with her first child wearing a black and white shift dress next to a picture of a killer whale.

LISTEN: You can listen to Anne Helen Petersen’s thoughts on Kim Kardashian-West’s pregnancy on the No Filter podcast (post continues after audio…)

“65‑lb Weight Gain!”, “Binges on Pasta, Cake and Ice Cream!” and “Kim’s Pregnant Nightmare!” were just some of the many headlines making the front pages of gossip mags and websites, always accompanied by an image of Kardashian-West eating cake or generally ‘looking fat’, Peterson wrote in a chapter of her new book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman.

“The [killer whale] photo wasn’t the first image of the pregnant Kardashian, but it became the indelible one, encapsulating all that was “wrong” with her pregnancy: her weight gain (not cute) and her strategy for clothing it (not appropriate). From that point forward, the already Kardashian-​­frenzied paparazzi went into over‑drive. The ultimate prize wasn’t just a picture of Kim, but one of Kim eating, Kim looking fat, Kim looking miserable, Kim looking uncomfortable, Kim looking, in other words, not like Kim.”

If she wasn’t eating the wrong things or stuffing her face, she was wearing the wrong clothes. Because obviously the memo that good pregnant women – especially ‘heavier’ pregnant women – don’t wear sheer lace, body con dresses or perspex heels didn’t get through. “Would someone please tell Kim she’s pregnant!” read the cover of the New York Post, while VH1 added“We give you a woman at the tail end of her pregnancy who refuses to ditch the Rich Bitch bodycon dresses, hose, and sky-​­high heels”.

The paparazzi and media outlets didn’t care that, during those nine months of pregnancy, Kardashian-West felt “the lowest I have ever felt in my life”, she later admitted on her blog.

Never mind her swollen ankles and other symptoms were early warning signs of preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy condition affecting only five per cent of women.

Or that she was, for the most part, put on a strict diet consisting mostly of “carrots, celery sticks and hommus’ to maintain a healthy weight.

All that mattered was her pregnancy body was not a celebrity pregnancy body. Of course, in reality, there’s no such thing as a pregnancy body, because every woman’s body is different.

Some women look like they’ve swallowed a basketball, and some don’t. Some have sore, swollen feet and crave pickles, and some don’t. Some glow and thrive, and feel sexy in their changing body. But just as many find it uncomfortable, and would rather just get the damn thing out already.

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For those women, keeping their pregnancy private is what feels right. According to PEOPLE, this is exactly how Jenner wants to live out the remainder of her pregnancy.

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“Kylie wants to keep a low profile. Even though this is a very exciting time for her, she wants to be more private for now, and is doing her best to stay out of the public eye,” a source told PEOPLE in October.

“She feels good, but her body is changing. She doesn’t want to be photographed. At the moment, she wants more privacy.”

She’s entitled to it, and can we really blame her for wanting it? When her sister was so mercilessly bullied for having a relatively normal pregnancy, why would Jenner subject her changing pregnancy body to the same inevitable criticism?

She wouldn’t. And neither would you.

You can listen to Anne Helen Petersen’s full interview with Mia Freedman on No Filter below…