Several weeks ago, en route to my email inbox, I was informed by the AOL Welcome Screen that Kim Kardashian is pregnant. What threw me off was that AOL wasn’t telling me as if it was news, but instead as if everyone already knew and the world had moved on to dissecting exactly what it meant, what her maternity look would be, and whether it would affect the shape of her celebrated tush. This was actually OLD news, and I had been unaware!! I was shocked that, even if the announcement was just 24 hours old, I hadn’t already heard via Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, text, or even good, old-fashioned television. (But I also immediately felt proud that apparently I really had taken a step back and “disconnected” over the holidays, however briefly.)
The follow-up piece of “news” to which AOL alerted me was Kim’s admission – revelation! – that pregnancy is hard. Now, let’s be real, considering her privilege, no one wants to hear KK complain about anything. We imagine that in a high percentage of the hardships she encounters, she can just throw money at the problem. And in the scenarios where being rich can’t help her, like when relationships of hers that fall apart embarrassingly and publicly, we figure she’s fostered the publicity that instigates these issues in the first place.
Of course I clicked the link and watched the clip AOL posted. Duh. What I found annoying, though, was not what I expected to. I didn’t mind Kim’s part at all. It was the celebrity reporter’s reaction that got under my skin. The “reporter,” if that title is warranted, supplied an over-wrought response of surprise to the fact that Kim was saying anything concerning pregnancy other than how rosy life is with a bun in the oven, how she already understands that she’s about to experience love like she’s never felt, how everything has come into glaring perspective now that she has a life growing inside her, and how the inconveniences of pregnancy are all negligible because it will all be worth it when she meets her little angel on Earth for the first time.
Instead, Kim alluded, albeit very subtly, to what a lot of women experience when they become pregnant: that the body they have had, grown into, lived in, known, and trusted for decades is now transforming into something foreign. This transformation is not simply about the shape of one’s body, though that’s strange enough. It’s about how one’s body operates, reacts, moves, and feels. It’s really weird. And it’s really off-putting to have something you could rely on more than almost anything become something you can’t. Now, were those her words? No. But even alluding to it? That’s more than I’ve seen any other public figure, and especially celebrity, do. They don’t “complain.” They’re not real. They vapidly tell vapid interviewers what they want to hear, on this and every other topic. They communicate nothing of meaning. It’s what we expect and we clink the links on the AOL Welcome Screen in spite of it.
To be fair, the rest of the exchange between Kim and the reporter in the brief red carpet interview also lacked any meaning whatsoever, yet this little service on Kim’s part, this bit of honesty, was significant to me. Our society has made a lot of progress in the last century in terms of being more open about pregnancy and motherhood. Pregnant women can leave the house now. We don’t have to wear shapeless clothing. We can wear bikinis! We can work out while pregnant. We can continue to go to work and go to school. We have movements and even laws (!) to support breastfeeding in public. Public spaces, businesses, and restaurants cater to new moms and families with young children because it’s okay for us to be not only be seen but also heard! And because, frankly, we can be a powerful bloc of consumers.
But there remains a lot about pregnancy and motherhood that is not out in the open. Pregnancy is hard, even when it’s an “easy” pregnancy. Having a kid is hard. Miscarriages are hard. Infertility is hard. Breastfeeding is hard (though awesoooooome!!). A lot of women keep the physical, mental, and emotional discomfort to themselves. Even worse, a lot of women imply a complete lack of these challenges when they write stupid posts about their perfect state of mothering bliss on Facebook. And it’s not only to their detriment, because I believe it takes a toll when one works so hard to uphold such a façade, but it’s also to the detriment of the other ladies who would be comforted by hearing that they’re not alone in thinking, huh, this is challenging in ways I didn’t see coming.
Now, I know there exist lots of mom groups (I’ve been a part of a couple now) and support groups and mommy blogs and the like where all of these admissions are made and shared and sometimes even “resolved” through the power of commiseration. But those can still feel like secret societies removed from the open acknowledgement we grant other truths in our everyday lives. On the other hand, I’m not suggesting we should all work to be big complainers and dwellers and negative Nancies about the realities of procreation, which has been occurring since time immemorial. Nothing has made me feel more powerful, competent, and bad ass than experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and raising an infant into a toddler. (Yes, they are clichés, and yes, they are true! I AM A WARRIOR PRINCESS, PEOPLE!!! BELIEVE!!!!) But I’m saying that (a) there still exists a knee-jerk internal reaction to not be authentic about these experiences and to instead give only the party line and only when asked, and (b) good for freaking Kim Kardashian for going off-script for one blessed minute to be real about her experience of pregnancy. (And, bonus points for giving her sister Kourtney a shout-out for having done it first, done it twice, and done it well. You all know I personally love giving my sisters public props whenever possible because they are the best.)
And, I guess, (c) I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written anything for this blog and I can’t believe that what finally prompted me to was Kim Kardashian. But, whatever. She’s really pretty.
As a final note, I will say that I had one of my sisters proofread this post before putting it online. (Only one sister, because I knew the other sister would be super pumped to see that my blog was updated and I didn’t want to ruin that for her!) She liked it, but thought people who haven’t had kids might not understand my point. Thinking about it, that kind of is my point. This stuff shouldn’t be a mystery. And it shouldn’t be a revelation. Certainly not one we have to rely on Kim Kardashian to reveal.