Not just the territory of celebrity weeklies, the bump watch is as old as time. Gossips were counting the months and checking waistlines in Pepys' letters, and those Empire-waisted dresses must have been a blessing in a time when any hint of a bump was considered unsightly. But when did it become not just okay but de rigueur to examine women's waistlines and speculate about their uteruses? Part of it, of course, is that tabloids just got more intrusive, period — for the past twenty years, nothing has been off-limits. But our obsession with other women's reproduction seems both significant and alarming. We demand that stars have babies, feel they have the duty of 19th century ladies of the manor to reproduce, want explanations when they don't. In their role as proxy-women, we want them to have babies, but stay glamorous and lose the "baby weight" (the sister of the "bump-watch" and the "bikini body," also our collective business) within a matter of weeks. What was once considered unsightly — the visible proof of sexuality in a woman — is now mandatory. And when you think about it, that's bizarre. No wonder stars like Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are producing "surprise" babies — via adoption or surrogates — not, of course, that it keeps their bellies from being scrutinized.
1905: Sears launches (hideous) maternity wear. Women at least have something to wear when they go out. That they didn't have to make.
1991: Demi Moore wears nothing but a bump on the cover of Vanity Fair .
2004: First recorded use of "bump watch." A personal blogger begins a weekly chronicle of her tummy's growth, christens it "bump watch."
2010: There is such a surfeit of pregnant celebrities voluntarily admitting to pregnancy that tabs are momentarily lulled by promise of consensual "Bump Watches." Bumps of Natalie Portman, Kelly Preston, Kate Hudson fully-documented.