When it comes to pregnant bodies, we as a society have a lot of work to do. We have this cultural idea that it's okay to say things like "any day now!" or "wow, you're huge!" any time we see what looks like a baby bump. And don't even get us started on how so many people think it's okay to ask someone if they're pregnant based on normal body changes. That's a hard no.
I didn't realize the full extent of this until my own pregnancy, though. I could barely walk down the street without hearing the comments: Like "Oh my goodness, you're about to pop!" when in reality I had eight weeks left of my pregnancy, or (because we can never really win), "You're so tiny! You need to eat more!". It was overwhelming and uncomfortable, and it made me feel like my body was no longer my own.
I can't even begin to imagine what that effect is like when you have millions of people watching your every move and commenting on everything you do in a very public way. But Kim Kardashian knows all too well what it's like, and now she's opening up about how deeply it affected her during her first pregnancy.
"When I was pregnant with North I was suffering from preeclampsia, which made me swell uncontrollably," Kardashian writes in an Instagram story. "I cried every single day over what was happening to my body mainly from the pressures of being constantly compared to what society considered a healthy pregnant person should look like — as well as being compared to Shamu the Whale by the media."
Like Kardashian, I had preeclampsia at the end of my pregnancy. I know all too well how drastic that swelling is. I also know how scary and stressful and painful the condition can be — and the last thing an expectant mother needs when she's dealing with a potentially life-threatening health issue is the kind of cruel treatment Kardashian received.
The way our world views pregnant bodies (as though they're fair game for public commentary and scrutiny just because they're housing another human), coupled with the way we view celebrities like Kardashian as impervious to criticism, is a dangerous combination. It creates a system that makes so many people think it's acceptable to say anything about her. But it's not okay. It never will be. And the effects can be incredibly damaging.
"I was shamed on a weekly basis with cover stories that made my insecurities so painful I couldn't leave the house for months after," Kardashian writes. "It really broke me."
It's heartbreaking to hear how deeply Kardashian was hurt by the body-shaming she endured. Eight years later, she's reflecting on it for an important reason.
"I'm sharing this just to say I really hope everyone involved in the business of shaming and bullying someone to the point of breaking them down might reconsider and instead try to show some understanding and compassion," Kardashian writes. "
You just never fully know what someone is going through behind the scenes and I've learned through my own experiences that it's always better to lead with kindness."