In this op-ed, weekend editor De Elizabeth explains why fans need to stop speculating about Kylie Jenner’s rumored pregnancy and stop policing women’s bodies.
In September 2017, reports broke that Kylie Jenner might be pregnant, and while Kylie herself has neither confirmed or denied the news, fans have been obsessed with the possibility ever since. Who could forget the mayhem surrounding the Kardashian-Jenners’s mysterious holiday card, not to mention the theories that popped up when Kylie announced her Love magazine cover. As time has marched on, the speculation has only grown in intensity — and at this point it’s gotten entirely out of hand. Moreover, it’s symptomatic of a bigger issue: the way we treat pregnancy within celebrity culture is extremely problematic, and it needs to change.
Earlier this week, Kim Kardashian took to Twitter to post a funny photo of her daughter North West playing hide and seek. “North is the hide and seek champ,” the reality star wrote on Tuesday, January 9, along with a picture of her daughter’s hair peeking out from inside an ottoman. But many Twitter users took the opportunity to call out Kylie for “being the real hide and seek champion,” pointing to the fact that she’s remained off the radar for the past few months.
Of course, Kylie is under no obligation to share anything with the public. In fact, US Weekly reported that, according to a source close to the star, Kylie “wants to keep this one aspect of her life private.” And while we still need to take everything that sources say with a grain of salt (especially since Kylie has not commented yet), it would be pretty understandable if she wanted to keep this to herself, as so much of her life has been spent in the spotlight.
Nevertheless, these reports haven’t kept others from feeling entitled to this information — or from feeling like they have a right to take the discussion to extremely disrespectful levels. Take, for example, the comments made by talk show host Wendy Williams during a segment of her show on January 10. “Let me tell you something,” she said regarding Kylie. “You can do whatever you want to yourself, but the baby is still going to look like the old you…just saying,” taking a jab at Kylie’s lip enhancements. The host went on to theorize about Kylie’s relationship, speculating that the makeup mogul “is not with Travis Scott anymore,” and suggesting crudely that the two broke up after “the condom split.” Yet there’s been no talk of trouble between Travis and Kylie (in fact, sources have reported the opposite), and her speculations about “what might have happened” were glib and insensitive to people who do find themselves alone after an unplanned pregnancy. Plus, it’s never OK to shame someone for personal choices made about their body — cosmetic enhancements included.
But Wendy’s comments — and the deluge of comments made by fans on social media — point to a much larger issue at hand. While it’s understandable to be curious and intrigued about celebrities’ lives, the public doesn’t have a right to know every last detail of their personal information. In this case, if Kylie is pregnant, it’s up to her to decide how and when (or if) she wants to reveal the news — and everyone needs to accept that.
Of course, this is reflective of a pervasive problem within celebrity culture and how we talk about women’s bodies in general. We’re constantly bombarded with headlines about weight loss and gain, postpartum “bounce back” figures, and “theories” about celebrity pregnancy. Some people feel entitled to talking about celebrities’ bodies as though they are objects in the abstract, rather than real humans. This ultimately takes away the star’s agency, and it gives fans a sense of power that shouldn’t — and doesn’t — exist.
The way we treat celebrities’ bodies plays out in the lives of “regular” people, especially as the line between social media and real life becomes increasingly blurred. The vast majority of people are dealing with body insecurity or body shaming issues of their own, and the constant media chatter about famous people’s figures can be further damaging. More often than not, the focus is placed significantly on women, and the idea that the public has some sort of ownership over a celebrity’s body can easily bleed into a larger and continued feeling of ownership over female bodies in general. While the conversation around body acceptance is thankfully changing, there is still a long way to go before the way someone moves in this world is not a hot-button topic for gossip columnists and internet commenters alike.
Though this is not the only step toward solving every instance of sexism in this world, but people need to stop policing other people’s bodies — whether they’re random strangers or celebrities. Yes, Kylie has, on her own terms, created a brand by offering glimpses into her life, but that doesn’t grant fans unlimited access, or allow people to speculate endlessly about whether her baggy coat might be “hiding” a pregnancy. And just because Kylie’s Instagram may be filled with selfies (sometimes in various stages of undress), it’s important to remember that those are the pieces of herself that she chose to share; it doesn’t mean that her followers have the right to see or know everything about her body.
We live in a world where celebrities don’t just appear on the big screen, but they’re in our Instagram feeds, our Twitter timelines, and on our Snapchat stories. Seeing Kylie’s mirror selfie right above that of your best friend’s can sometimes muddle those two realities: celebrities feel like IRL friends, too. But it’s important to remember that there is a line there, as blurred as it might be. At the end of the day, celebrities’ lives — and bodies — are their own, despite the fact that they share so much of them with us. The public needs to remember that, and finally leave Kylie Jenner — and all other female bodies — alone.