Beyoncé's odd foldy belly and the scrutiny thereof heralds a new era in celebrity culture: we've moved beyond watching starlets' stomachs for the slightest sign of a baby bump, to monitoring their figures for signs that their pregnancies are fake.
By now you may well have seen footage of Beyoncé sitting down for an interview in Australia on Sunday night, wherein it looks like her baby bump is "deflating." The clip looks undeniably weird, but folks have been accusing her of wearing a fake bump since the day of her pregnancy announcement. Said blogger Sandra Rose,
I find it necessary to remind my readers that Beyoncé was just onstage 10 days ago in New York with NO visible baby bump!
Now all of a sudden — 10 days later — she shows up at the VMA's with a swollen belly looking like she's 6 months pregnant? LOL! I can't stop laughing!
Gossip types have long started at actresses' bellies for the merest hint of roundness that could indicate growing spawn. Now, they're also looking for evidence that said roundness is actually a prosthetic. Katie Holmes was famously the subject of such rumors — Leslie Gornstein E! Online said, "A timeline of Holmes' pregnancy photos seems to show her stomach growing and shrinking — and then growing again." Nicole Kidman and Kelly Preston also came in for fake-preggo talk. And of course, there's the rumor-that-will-not-die that is Trig-birtherism.
Those who think Sarah Palin isn't really Trig's mom believe she was covering for Bristol, but Hollywood pregnancy doubters usually speculate that fake bumps are meant to camouflage the fact that stars are really having babies via surrogate. Keeping a surrogate secret wouldn't be the craziest decision, given that Sarah Jessica Parker said her surrogate was repeatedly harassed and spied on by paparazzi. It's not just surrogates themselves who face risks — stars who use them may be criticized for their failure to reproduce the old-fashioned way, or for choosing surrogacy over adoption. Faking a pregnancy is a strange thing to do, but in Hollywood, it might almost make sense.
Of course, it's still pretty unlikely that Beyoncé is sporting a fake bump. All we know for sure is that there's a new hoop for actresses to jump through now. In addition to looking perfectly svelte pre-pregnancy, submitting to a constant bump-watch, and dropping the baby weight immediately, they must now make sure their pregnancies are convincing. That means no flat belly followed by a sudden pop, no changes based on angle or outfit, no deviations from a previously agreed-upon image of what a pregnant lady is supposed to look like. Pregnancy used to be the one time when actresses got a bit of a reprieve from body criticism, but now they'd better look perfectly lumpy throughout, or prosthesis rumors will commence. We might as well start demanding weekly sonograms from all celebrities — or, you know, accept that the state of the uteruses is none of our business.