Even before 32-year-old Kimberly Noel Kardashian got pregnant, her weight was a talking point. Her curvy body — and that infamous derrière — landed her on magazine covers, and she was paid handsomely to use and promote the non-FDA-approved weight loss supplement QuickTrim. But now that Kim is with child, the blaring, critical headlines about her body have reached a nauseating fever pitch. It's cruel, disgusting, sexist, and it's got to stop.
Some might argue that Kim is talentless. She doesn't act or sing or dance or cure cancer. But being business-savvy enough to turn your life into a multi-million dollar juggernaut — earning $40,000 per episode, raking in $6 million in fragrance sales, cashing in on clothing lines and makeup collections, getting paid to tweet, managing to earn income by merely existing — requires skill. And it's true, her body has been part of that. She capitalized on her figure and her sexy image. But the vitriol being hurled at her for her weight gain is completely unfair.
A recent issue of Star magazine used an image of Kim wearing a black and white dress on the cover, with the words "65-LB WEIGHT GAIN!" The number — 65 lbs. — was an estimate by an "expert" who has never weighed Kim. The photo was taken from the least flattering angle possible. In fact, that dress is black with a white flap, which was blowing open at the moment the shot was snapped. Other images from different angles show that Kim is nowhere near as wide as that photo makes her look. The copy in the Star cover story was vicious:
She looks like she's put on an insane amount of weight in such a short time.
She cries every other day, and she's scared to see how big she'll get.
She's been waking up in the middle of the night and binge eating.
Her shapely derriere has morphed into a sagging, dimply blob.
Mean, unnamed sources, who are apparently hiding in her shower stall and kitchen cabinets, become "news."
This week's In Touch magazine had a similar story, using the words "I Can't Stop Eating!" on the cover, despite the fact that this was not a direct quote from Kim and she did not grant the magazine an interview. The editors also compared the five-foot-two Kim to five-foot-ten Kate Middleton, with the headline "KATE IS HALF KIM'S SIZE!" How can you even compare two women who don't have the same height, weight, metabolism, genetics, body type? As I wrote on Wednesday, it's like apples and oranges, or greyhounds and pekingese.
Part of the reason this criticism is ridiculous? Pregnancy is a life-altering event. A woman undergoes radical physical, psychological, chemical and hormonal changes. She is gestating a human being — not just housing and carrying the cells around as they morph from zygote to embryo to fetus, but feeding them as well as herself. No one — NO ONE — should be monitoring her weight gain except for herself and her doctor. And even then, let's face it: Pregnant women get a fucking pass. Have seconds. Eat that ice cream. Drizzle chocolate sauce on everything. You're going through something major, it's a temporary state, do what you gotta do. Don't even start with the "it's about her health" bullshit. This woman works out daily and has for years. Unless you are holding a blood pressure cuff and her medical chart you have zero idea of whether or not she is unhealthy. You can't see her heart, lungs, liver, circulatory system and blood sugar levels in a paparazzi photo.
Obviously, because people consider Kim Kardashian famous for one thing — being hot and therefore fuckable — they feel she's broken some kind of contract by suddenly appearing in public not-slim and therefore not-hot. And to be fair, she built part of her career on losing weight, asking the public to check out her flesh, posing in Playboy, and so on — gaining weight is not on-message.
But motherhood is an entirely different ball game, and no matter how Kim built her empire, no one gets the right to criticize her pregnant body. And let's be clear: Her body is not mocked because it is somehow worthy of ridicule. It's mocked because the public does not like it when celebrities don't behave as expected or desired. Kim Kardashian is supposed to be long-haired and bikini-clad, offering herself up as sex fantasy, thinspiration, or standard of beauty. Appearing in public in any other form sparks fury, anger, scolding. The narrative is unflinchingly brutal: All you are is a hot body, if you're anything less, get out of my sight. How dare you force me to look at something I consider unsightly.
But honestly, Kim's pregnancy is just part — probably not even half — of what this weight controversy is about. The truth is that America loves knocking a woman down off of her pedestal. Kim Kardashian is not the first celebrity to be battered by tasteless body criticism. Some of the most powerful women on the planet — from Hillary Clinton to Oprah to Lady Gaga to Beyoncé and Michelle Obama — have been called fat (and it was meant as an insult) and had their bodies picked apart and scrutinized. It's just another example of how inherently misogynistic our society is: Truly important qualities like talent, intellect, compassion and work ethic become inconsequential where women are concerned; the only thing that really matters is how she looks. We are all guilty of the sick objectification of women. How can we help it? We live in a world where a woman is not person with emotions but a collection of body parts for the public to judge, like a horse for sale. Look at those teeth. Check out those legs. Her eyes. Her nose. Her hair. Products are are marketed using boobvertising — no face, just parts.
I'm not a huge Kim Kardashian fan, I don't watch her shows, and I don't relish the idea of defending her. I don't give a shit if you hate her clothes, or if you think her vampire facial is gross. But it's sickening to see the magazines hurling the word "fat" — at a pregnant woman, no less — as an insult, treating her as though she's committed some kind of treasonous betrayal, making money from primarily female readers participating in a psychologically destructive Ouroboros of a gossip cycle, where everything is black and white, you're loved or loathed, thin or fat, good or bad, and thin is always good and fat is always bad and the worst thing you can possibly do is gain weight. Kim Kardashian could discover a new species of snail and the coverage would include her "snug-fitting lab coat." It all comes back to fatphobia, intolerance, and a sad desire to feel superior by belittling others. It's tragic, tiresome, and wrong, and Kim Kardashian is not the first to endure this garbage, but I can't help wish she would be the last. Policing her size and breathlessly guessing her weight is a waste of energy that solves nothing. And so, in conclusion: SHUT. THE FUCK. UP.