I Would Like to File an Official Complaint

About the new trend of "baby bump spotting"—speculating on female celebrities' alleged pregnancies based on anything from a strangely-hung blouse to being photographed in a tight dress immediately after a big meal. Every day, it's another pregnancy denial (or, occasionally, confirmation) after weeks of scrutinizing still photographs of young, presumably sexually active women from every angle, and putting forth supergenius theories like, "That's not a baby bump; that's Frapp bloat."

Once upon a time, this shit only existed on newsstands in weekly tabloids and gossip columns, where it was more about so-and-so was seen not drinking champagne at some hoity-toity party immediately after dropping out of Mr. Big Director's latest project…could this mean a baby on the way?—as opposed to endless pictures of Cameron Diaz or BeyoncĂ© Knowles or whomever caught in hi-res from every angle being made available for physical scrutiny, like you can find now on any gossip blog.

And if it were only the gossip blogs, that would be one thing. But it's not. This crap can now be found on the front page of MSNBC, CNN, etc.—sure, part of their "entertainment" sections, but that stuff's still supposed to be entertainment news. How "Paris Hilton may or may not be pregnant but looks like might be according to these pictures" qualifies as news is beyond me.

My definitional pedantry is not, however, my primary objection. As if female celebrities didn't have enough pressure on them to be thin already, now they've got the added consideration of making sure they don't ever look, by virtue of eating dinner or stumbling into a weird light, like they've got a "baby bump."

And of course girls growing up in a culture obsessed with this shit will be worried about making sure they don't look like they've got a "baby bump" either—and the thinner a girl is, the more likely a visible pooch is to appear after a full meal or even a bottle of freaking water, making the already-thinnest girls more at risk for deliberately starving or dehydrating themselves to avoid perfectly normal and natural full-belliedness.

Beyond that, there's a whole other layer of reinforcing the idea that women's ultimate value is as babymaking machines, and yet another layer of reinforcing the notion that women's bodies are community property, and yet another layer of reinforcing the straight male gaze as the norm by disproportionately objectifying women's bodies, and yet another layer of concepts regarding treating pregnancy as a tacit approval for invasion of privacy, and a whole lot of other basic feminist alarms that are all just blinking in my head at once.

Which I'll leave you to discuss in comments.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus