Can You Fat-Shame the Shameless?

By
Photo: New York Post

Has the national media's nonstop coverage of Kim Kardashian taken on a whiff of fat-shaming in her pregnancy? The Daily Beast thinks so, citing hyperbolic tabloid covers such as "Pregnant Kim's Nightmare: 65 Pound Weight Gain," and "Kim's 200 LB Nightmare: I Can't Stop Eating!," the latter of which I'll confess to giggling at while standing in line at Duane Reade, where I was stocking up on Cadbury cream eggs, which, seriously, I can't stop eating.

I'll further admit that we at the Cut are undeniably uncomfortable-shaming Kardashian, mostly because the childless imagine pregnancy foremost as the one period in our lives when we will feel excused from worrying about the definition of our waists. Quite simply, we detect a missed opportunity for Kim.

But it’s hard for me to disentangle fat-shaming from pregnancy coverage. It's well-established that all stages and aspects of female fertility will be dramatized for tabloid-narrative purposes, including being pregnant, trying to get pregnanthaving a miscarriage, and breast-feeding. (Someone braver than I can predict which pioneering tabloid will publish a young Disney star's "My First Period" story.) I’m not saying it’s right, but the Kardashians are not exactly leading the fight against nonconsensual prurience alongside Anne Hathaway and Jon Hamm. If anything, the Kardashians reinforce it on their suite of television programs, where you can literally watch Kourtney pull daughter Penelope out of her vagina. Weight gain is expected and acceptable during pregnancy, so where is the shame? (Save on the tabloids, for expecting us to believe she weighs 200 pounds.) It's especially hard to feel bad when one remembers how much money she stands to make losing it, with an endorsement deal from Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, to say nothing of the many "How Kim Got Her Bikini Body Back" stories we will likely suffer at the end of this year. 

As for today’s New York Post cover, it seemed mostly to share our incredulity at Kardashian’s masochistic maternitywear from a place of awe, not judgment. I agree that the Shamu joke going around Tumblr and Reddit took it a little too far.