I’ll say it. It’s weird.
And if you’re one of those people who anxiously surf the web or wait with bated breath over the next photo of a famous woman’s bulging belly, you are too.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the strange one who finds it bizarre that paparazzi send up drones armed with high definition cameras and storm the beaches on Malibu in hopes of catching some pregnant woman with a bulbous bare midriff. There’s a disturbing aspect to the pursuit and, what I can only describe as fetishist behavior toward pregnant women.
It’s a relatively new thing, this tabloid phenomenon of capturing future mothers while in full blossom. The headlines scream from the front covers of supermarket magazines; “Khloe Kardashian unveils baby bump in revealing dress!” “Cardi B. puts baby bump on display during Saturday Night Live performance,” “Beyonce debuts belly full of babies while shopping in Beverly Hills.” And I can’t help but stop and think to myself… Why?
It’s happened to virtually every pregnant celebrity in the last ten years, from Princess Kate Middleton, to Blac Chyna, Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and countless others who are expecting. The typically modest Anne Hathaway beat nosy photographers to the punch after she caught them hiding in the bushes as she basked in the sun on an Australian beach by posting her own baby bump picture on Instagram to thwart paparazzi intent on selling them to the highest bidder.
She captioned her Instagram post:
“So, posting a bikini pic is a little out of character for me, but just now while I was at the beach I noticed I was being photographed, I figure if this kind of photo is going to be out in the world it should at least be an image that makes me happy (and be one that was taken with my consent. And with a filter :)”- Anne Hathaway
When did it become normal for expectant public figures to have to run, dodge or outsmart the media who are intent on, not only invading their privacy, but encroaching upon a woman’s very private, personal and intimate experience of pregnancy? When did the public become so fascinated by the concept of a pregnant celebrity who is showing that they devote entire websites to “Bump sightings?” These sites are absolutely loaded with archives of celebrities with exposed, bulging abdomens in candid, often unanticipated photos.
My opinion may be largely unpopular considering the infinite number of google results that return when searching “Bump watch.” I must be in a minority given that I don’t find these images at all entertaining or extraordinarily fascinating. The fact is, women get pregnant all the time. For them, justifiably, it’s a monumental, family event that they’re under no obligation to share with the rest of the world. More concerning is the throngs of people who salivate over them.
Gone are the days where we respected the fragility of heavily pregnant women who were once entitled to experience the journey of motherhood with their dignity in tact. Whereas, once before, it was considered inappropriate to even touch a woman’s belly without consent, now the media is photographing them in various states of undress as they sunbathe or take a holiday stroll, completely unaware of the shutterbugs leering from the shadows to capture their distended tummy- which is accompanied by derogatory stories remarking on it’s size, the stretchmarks, and even debating the state of their term. It’s become the new virtual sport in Hollywood, and more than a little cringe-worthy.
It goes well beyond the polite “congratulations” or the delivery of a basket of flowers. Now it’s a full on race for paparazzi to capture images of a woman showing evidence of pregnancy- and sometimes, that’s not even the case. For example, in the last six years, Jennifer Aniston has been rumored to be pregnant more than 40 times. Yes, you read that right. 40 times. Even making national headlines.
Imagine how humiliating it might be if, say, Aniston, who has never been pregnant, struggled with fertility issues, but was subjected to these relentless headlines.
Ultimately, this is about respect. Respect of a woman’s right to experience the exciting adventure of pregnancy without being under the microscope of the public ohh’ing and ahh’ing over her stomach like it’s the first one they’ve ever seen. More than that, it’s about allowing women the opportunity to disclose their pregnancy when they chose to. And if they’re not pregnant at all because of a personal medical issue, then it’s an outright shaming of them for not being able to satiate this odd obsession people have with pregnant celebrities.
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