The Duchess of Cambridge: In defense of baby bumps everywhere

royal bumpKate is now over six months pregnant with a due date around mid July and like many other pregnant mums in the public eye, the size of her bump has been the focus of column inches everywhere. As we sadly know, women can’t seem to win when it comes to body size and it appears pregnancy is no different. Many publications have been commenting that Kate’s bump is too small for this stage in her pregnancy and that she doesn’t appear pregnant enough.

Kim Kardashian is another woman under constant scrutiny with quite often vitriolic abuse, particularly in US publications for ‘putting on too much weight’ and too quickly in her pregnancy. It’s all pretty anti feminist of the media and us for engaging in it but I get it; those who have experienced pregnancy are comparing themselves to Kate and Kim like they do their friends and family…but it does feed into an anti feminist ideology, setting up unrealistic expectations for everyone.

We need to accept we’re all different and our pregnant shapes, much the same as how we raise our kids once they arrive, will differ from woman to woman.

The media likes to build our celebrities up, mostly so us ‘normal folks’ can relish in tearing them down. But do we all feel that way? What is the end game? It just makes us feel more inadequate in the end, doesn’t it? I always felt so sorry for Jessica Simpson who, in her first pregnancy was consistently barraged by an avalanche of abuse on her changing body.

Bodies change. Life is being grown. Where is the respect? It’s hard enough for the rest of us who suddenly become public property when pregnant (I recently blogged about this in Bump Feelers and Baby Holders) so I can imagine how stressful and upsetting it can be for public figures who, lets not forget, are still dealing with hormonal upheaval and all the tough parts of pregnancy too.

While I appreciate women in the public eye are going to be more susceptible to critique, isn’t pregnancy a sacred time; one that should be respected however famous you are? It’s a time where you have little control over your body and bump so perhaps the media and we, need to back off.

With my first pregnancy, I was desperate to show the visible results of my cervix’s hard work but it took 6 and a half months for my bump to appear however much I tried to accentuate it with maternity clothes. I wanted the world to see I was carrying a child and assumed once the test showed positive, it would be but days for my bump to bloom. Disappointment is not the word yet people constantly congratulated me on my ‘neat’ bump like I’d intended not to show.

With my second, I showed much more quickly, as most women do and was rejoiced but pregnancy pressure of conforming to a certain size is real and highly irritating. Midwives stipulate that bump size and body changes in pregnancy relate to muscle strength and original body shape and as we are all individuals, it’s important to view pregnancy as such too.

Kate Middleton

Image credit: Reuters

Images of pregnancy and motherhood are presented to us – celebrity mums returning back to their original size within hours of birth, contented babies carried by Mums in Louboutins and skinny jeans boasting of babies sleeping through from day 1, simply fuel up inadequacy amongst women and especially sleep deprived, post baby hormonal women left with a body they often don’t recognise.

If more women felt confident which, in my opinion Kim Kardashian is determined to show us, continuing to go out in public, embracing the natural body changes of pregnancy maybe then we would be more accepting? This applies to non pregnant women too. Things need to change. Back seat pregnancy drivers and people on the street need to think before they comment on pregnant bodies and we should engage in the power of micropolitics; not contributing to the negativity and even better, stand up to it.

Next time someone comments or tries to touch your bump or reflects on how small/big you are or Kate or Kim is, simply don’t stand for it. Will you be part of that change today? I know I will.

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About Vicki Psarias

Vicki Psarias blogs at Honest Mum and Mummy's Got Style Psarias is an award winning writer/director winning the 30 Under 30 Square Mile London Talent Award, The Channel 4 4Talent Award for Best Filmmaker amongst many Best Director film festival awards from LA to India. Vicki features in the Guardian’s Courvoisieur Future 500 and was highly commended at the Red Magazine Red Hot Women Awards for her writing and directing work. Her film website is www.vpsarias.co.uk. Vicki is former Editor of the Film & Festivals Magazine @VickiFilm.

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8 Responses to The Duchess of Cambridge: In defense of baby bumps everywhere

  1. Xandi | The Mummy Scripts 25 April 2013 at 19:19 #

    Well said Vicki! You feel so vulnerable when pregnant – changes in your body and emotions are enough to deal with, let alone randoms criticising you. Unfortunately I think this happens to everyone, but when you’re in the public eye it’s magnified tenfold.
    Great post x

  2. Michelle @ Bod for tea 26 April 2013 at 07:17 #

    Yes, yes, yes! I hate our celebrity culture and the body image mafia that continue to contribute to the misinformation about our beautiful, wonderous bodies – in ALL their shapes and sizes. Frankly who CARES what shape your bump is, how big, how small, how round? The fact that we’re able to carry a new life is something to be totally and utterly celebrated and not constantly questioned. Fab post Vicki. *Gets off soapbox*

  3. HonestMum 26 April 2013 at 08:29 #

    I totally agree Xandi and everyone and their Gran seems to have an opinion on your body. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for Kate and Kim and others in the public eye x

  4. Honestmum 26 April 2013 at 20:49 #

    @Michelle well said, I totally agree with your comment. Pregnancy is such a wonderful time and should be celebrated!

  5. Sharmin 28 April 2013 at 17:52 #

    Well written and poignant! We often forget that those in the public eye, who are constantly being photographed, are still experiencing the same upheavals and challenges, especially when pregnant. I never understood why the size of ones bump should be up for debate either. Pregnancy is a natural part of life, but also a private affair, just because someone is showing a bump does not mean it suddenly becomes public property to criticise or touch. x

  6. HonestMum 29 April 2013 at 09:26 #

    Well said Sharmin, it is really sad that in life (and perpetuated by the media) it somehow becomes acceptable to judge, criticise and invade pregnant women and mother’s space and privacy. I hope this stops!

  7. Pippa 30 April 2013 at 10:01 #

    Love this post Vicky. Women’s bodies are the subject of such intense criticism and scrutiny – for me, pregnancy was a moment when my body really made sense to me in spite of that – I understood its purpose and felt positively towards it for the first time that I can remember, it really did transform my sense of self. I have managed to retain some of that positivity and respect for my own individual body shape and strength, but it’s a hard struggle. I’m with you, and definitely trying to be part of the change with our #lovemumbody work. Thank you.

  8. Pippa 30 April 2013 at 10:03 #

    Thanks Pippa, that is so wonderful to hear, I too appreciated my body on a whole other level when pregnant. I feel really priviledged to have experienced it twice. Thanks for your fabulous comment, I hope it inspires others to feel more positively too.