Asking About Kelly Clarkson's Due Date Is Offensive & Creates An Unhealthy Culture For Pregnant Women
Celebrity pregnancies are always a hot news item, and it's easy to see why. After all, few things are more intriguing than seeing the private side of stars' lives, especially when it's something as relatable as being pregnant or having kids. But, as a perennially-popular target for body shaming in general, it's not exactly a surprise that Kelly Clarkson has received her fair share of rude pregnancy-related commentary from the Internet peanut gallery, and now that she's nearing the end of her second pregnancy, the "she's so big, she must be due any minute now" talk is ramping up. But this is why asking about Kelly Clarkson's due date is offensive: sure, it might just stem from genuine celeb-pregnancy-loving curiosity (I love a good celebrity Instagram birth announcement as much as the next girl). But assuming that Clarkson must be super preggo simply because she looks bigger than you think she should? That's not just hurtful, but it's also totally oblivious to the fact that every body looks different pregnant — and most of the time the way a pregnant woman's body looks means literally nothing about the health of her baby.
Like pretty much everything else in their lives, female celebs endure a fair amount of scrutiny about their pregnancy bodies. Are they gaining too much weight? Are they not gaining enough weight? Do their pregnancy bumps look cute? And — perhaps the one I find personally most annoying — the "bump watch" (aka, is she pregnant, or did she just have a big lunch and/or gain a few harmless freaking pounds?). Despite being hugely talented and successful, Clarkson has endured her share of criticism for her weight over the years, even before she became a mom. And even though all body shaming comments are flat-out unacceptable, at times they were particularly nasty.
Stop saying Kelly Clarkson is fat BC she's pregnant She fat AND pregnant and it's unhealthy Trust me, I know I gained 55lbs with my son — Elizabeth (@vanilla_baby_) February 26, 2016
Ten months after Clarkson gave birth to her first child, radio host Mike Gallagher and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace joked about her weight, according to E! News, saying "holy cow, did she blow up," and "she could stay off the deep dish pizza for a little while." But, even when the comments aren't intended to be offensive, they are pretty telling. Recent headlines about Clarkson mention that she "looks very pregnant," that it "it looked as if [her due date] wasn't too far off," and even how she'll be "risking a delivery onstage" during her performance at the American Idol finale (somehow I highly doubt she'd agree to perform if she actually thought she might deliver onstage, but whatever).
Of course, this celeb pregnancy shaming is reflective of a broader culture of pregnancy criticism that virtually all women face (remember the pregnant Instagram fitness model that the Internet lost its collective mind over?), and the implications are still there for even the most non-celebrity types among us (read the comments on a variety of your Facebook friends' bump pics and count the number of times someone references how their bellies look).
Even though, according to the Daily Mail, many of the factors that affect how someone's body looks pregnant are completely out of their control (see: how tall/short your torso is, how the baby is lying, whether or not this is your first pregnancy, etc.). The underlying message that pregnant women are somehow supposed to stay perfectly thin save for a delightfully round and proportioned belly leads some women to experience what experts call "pregorexia." According to CNN, pregorexia is an obsession with pregnancy weight gain, and can help explain why, according to eating disorder specialist Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, approximately 30 percent of pregnant women in American don't gain as much weight as they actually should. In extreme cases, this could lead to inter-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), which can cause low birth weight, or even seizures, according to Parents.
Naturally, this preoccupation with women's pregnant bodies can also swing the other way, when pregnant celebrities are criticized for having smaller-than-average bumps (Kate Middleton comes to mind, as does Coco Austin) . But none of that compares to the onslaught of commentary that ensues once these women have given birth and are almost immediately expected to "get their bodies back" (ick).
People fat-shaming Kelly Clarkson while she's pregnant with her second child & still making great music need to seriously check themselves— HollyAnne (@nopeholly) February 27, 2016
Clarkson, for one, has always taken the body criticism in stride, even though it's sad that she's had to. And, from the sounds of it, once Clarkson does deliver (whenever that may be), she'll spend the time not worrying about how she's going to get the weight off, but enjoying new motherhood as much as possible with the little boy she's already said will be her last child. And really, whether she — or anyone else — "bounces back" after giving birth is nobody else's business. And it's probably time we start acting like it.