​Fat-Shaming Pregnant Celebrities Hurts Every Mom in America

Hayden Panettiere has done it again. The actress, who is eight months pregnant, had the gall to show up on a beach, of all places, wearing -- of all things -- a bikini. Shocking! It sounds absurd, and of course I'm being sarcastic, but if you pay attention to some of the words that are being used to describe Hayden's body, you would think she was the most unattractive woman in the world -- which is certainly a load of BS. The problem is even bigger -- if you excuse the word choice -- than Hayden: women have gotten used to reading scathing, downright mean things written about celebrities who are pregnant. And they needn't be unabashedly showing off their skin on a beach (by the way, love you for that, Hayden). Even while fully clothed, their bodies are being ripped and critiqued so harshy, it almost feels like we've forgotten they are creating a human life.

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Going back to Hayden for a second, when she was recently spotted looking rail-thin everywhere but her amazing, gorgeous belly, one website described her as having a "massive belly" and questioned whether she is having twins. Since I assume this writer covers entertainment, she is probably aware of the fact that the 25-year-old is not carrying twins, so the implication behind her quip is that Hayden is just too huge to be believed.

Which is completely untrue -- and assuming you've ever been a pregnant woman or seen the belly of a pregnant woman, you probably already know that they come in all wonderful shapes and sizes.

Hayden is just one of dozens of celebs who have received the opposite of the red carpet treatment while pregnant. When Kim Kardashian was pregnant, the poor woman couldn't leave her house without being called "fat" by writers and bloggers who clearly had zero compassion for her. At one point, her image was photo-shopped alongside one of a whale, and the ridiculously offensive photo made its way around social media sites.

Remember when Alyssa Milano was called out by Jay Mohr for "not giving a s**t" after she gave birth -- something he could see from the size of her "gut"?

When Jessica Simpson endured headline after headline about her "changing body," as well as constant scrutiny and questions about just how much weight she put on and when, exactly, she was planning to "shed" it so she could get back into those Daisy Dukes?

The insane obsession with pregnant and post-pregnancy celebrity bodies even affects women we otherwise consider immune to "fat shaming." Few celebs seem more confident in their skin than "bootylicious" Beyonce, yet even she believed the hype about her "fat" pregnant state. Instead of embracing the beautiful body that created and nurtured her beautiful daughter, she wasted time worrying that her face looked slightly wider for all of about six seconds.

As much as I resent advertising companies spending billions to make me feel like a certain pair of pants will turn my legs into the ideal pair of legs, whatever that means, I also understand their intention is to make money. The only goal I see in writing negatively about a pregnant woman's body is to sell women a distorted view of pregnancy -- one they know most women will lap up because we've already been made to feel horrible about our bodies. It sends the message that a pregnant body is uglier and that the playing field is temporarily leveled during pregnancy so that even Jessica Simpson suffers from belly "fat."

When I first became pregnant, I'll never forget a good friend telling me she bet I'd look like a "TV-pregnant person." I didn't know what she meant until she explained: apparently, the ideal pregnant body is one with a small bump -- one that appears totally slim from every single angle, spare her adorable Buddha belly. Fantastic, I thought, even while I'm pregnant and just want to eat cheese all day, every day I'm expected to find some magical way for every calorie I consume to become absorbed by my boobs.

The reason we even have something as deranged as an "ideal pregnant body" is because we continue to allow celebs we ordinarily hold up on a pedestal to be ridiculed over something they have no control over, at a time in their lives when they should be treated with compassion and dignity.

The only thing we can do is stop buying into this myth and remember that when Hayden, Kim, or Jessica are critiqued for their "imperfect" pregnant bodies, women don't win. We don't suddenly become more beautiful because they are being made to feel less beautiful. We are just feeding into the idea that feminine beauty ideals trump everything -- including the nourishment of our babies.

Were or are your feelings about your pregnant body affected by the cruel treatment of pregnant celebrities in the media?

 

Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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