The Kardashian-Jenner family's reality TV, fashion, and makeup empires make it clear that they value appearances. That's what makes Khloé Kardashian's quotes about her body during pregnancy unsurprising, but it doesn't make them any less of a bummer. This is a much-wanted pregnancy for Kardashian; in her Instagram announcement, she referred to it as "My greatest dream realized!" She's also been very open about her fertility struggles, even documenting a consultation with a specialist on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Still, Kardashian grew up in a family that prizes beauty, and she did so surrounded by paparazzi and E! cameramen. For years, she was known as "the fat one" (I'm quoting her, please don't @ me). Eventually, she lost weight, got super into exercise, and now her fans have come to expect her frequent workout tips through posted to her app and Snapchat. Kardashian works hard to look the way she does, and addition to KUWTK, the mom-to-be also hosts a weight loss show called Revenge Body, which is predicated on the idea that a larger body is bad, and a smaller body is good (which isn't an idea everyone agrees with). So it's understandable that the rapid growth and other body changes she's experiencing would throw her for a loop.
Soon after confirming her pregnancy, Kardashian appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in a tight white dress, casually joking (or was she?) "Hopefully I look pregnant, not just fat." When the host noted that her dress was not intended for a woman entering her third trimester, the sometimes-fashion designer replied, "I'm gonna try to not wear maternity clothes for as long as possible." Ellen asked her what we're all probably wondering: "Don't you want to be comfortable?" But Kardashian insisted that the clothing wasn't an issue, although she did find it tough to breathe.
Kardashian's comments seem to imply that she's having trouble reconciling the "smaller equals healthier" mentality with her pregnancy. She's still working out (which is fine and healthy and normal), but she laments not being able to go at it full force anymore. And she's careful to say that she's eating exactly the right amount of food, lest anyone think she's a pig, or depriving her fetus: "I'm not someone who wants to eat an entire box of cookies," she wrote on her app. "I just don't eat like that. But, if I'm craving something, I make sure I give it to myself."
It's fine to want to be healthy. It's fine to want to be thin. I'm not implying that Kardashian has any mental or physical health issues related to her size, or that there's reason to be concerned for the baby. It just seems like it's very hard for her to not only be happy with her body, but to cultivate the precise media-appropriate impression about her attitude towards it. If she appears too unhappy with her body, she risks being labeled "pregorexic" or selfish. If she doesn't express enough concern, the tabloids will accuse her of "giving up" or "letting herself go." It's a lose-lose.
She's left in this grey area where she posts Instagram throwbacks captioned "body, I miss you," and tweets conflicting things on Twitter like "I now have cellulite on my legs! Cute! Cute!" or "Today for lunch I had a salad and THREE bowls of cereal. I had no control in the kitchen." Sadly — and I hope this was hyperbole — she's also called herself a "blimp" and a "big fat blob," and she told one fan that she always ties a flannel around her waist when working out to conceal her "huge" and "not cute" butt. If anyone accuses her of not being body-positive, though, she'll clap back, replying "Not once did I criticize myself. Move on babe," or "How do you know that I'm not embracing it? I am enjoying every moment!" I wish she could just be, without constantly trying to please everyone who has opinions about how she should regard her own body. But she's a Kardashian. She can't. So in place of that, I wish that every woman reading her comments knows better than to take them to heart.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.