It can happen to women who are weeks or months into their recovery from childbirth or recently suffered a pregnancy loss, or even someone who just happened to wear an empire-waist top or drink a lot of water that day.
A colleague, an acquaintance or even a stranger in line at Starbucks asks, "When are you due?" when the only thing you are expecting is a latte. Being misidentified as pregnant hurts, and we don't have to look far to see where people get the idea the commenting on women's bodies is okay. Celebrity baby bump speculation is unfortunately common in the media we consume, and the trickle-down effects impact women who don't live in the public eye and maybe just felt like wearing a billowy shirt.
Luckily, things may be changing, as celebrities are clapping back with anti-pregnancy announcements in an effort to teach the world what should already be common sense: The only appropriate time to comment on a woman's pregnancy is after she's announced it.
That's the message Kourtney Kardashian is trying to send after a fan commented on the below Instagram post, claiming Kourt looked pregnant in one of the pics.
Kardashian defended her body in the comments section, writing: "This is me when I have a few extra pounds on, and I actually love it," wrote the reality star. "I have given birth three amazing times and this is the shape of my body."
This is, of course, not the first time this has happened to a celebrity, and frankly, we're sick of people assuming any change in a woman's body is pregnancy. The assumption is so common that some celebs try to publicly broadcast changes In their weight or shape as a way of preventing pregnancy rumors. It's a tactic actor Anne Hathaway used last year when she just straight up told her Instagram followers: "I am gaining weight for a movie role and it is going well."
"I didn't feel like dealing with the pregnancy rumors," she told the magazine. "I find it bizarre that there's a storm to get ahead of, but I have a history of being shamed and humiliated, for a lot of different reasons."
Shame is something that came up in Riverdale star Lili Reinhart's response to pregnancy rumors too, as in shame on anyone who judges a woman's body.
"It's unfortunate that one unflattering photo of my stomach circulating the internet causes hundreds of people to think that I'm pregnant," she wrote in an Instagram Story.
"Nope. Not pregnant. This is just my body. And sometimes I'm bloated. Sometimes an unflattering photo is taken of me. Sometimes I go through periods of time where I gain weight. My body is something that I will NEVER apologize for. My body will constantly go through change. And so will yours. And that's fine. So let's not put so much time and effort into caring about a stranger's figure."
If Hathaway and Reinhart ever do decide to become moms, how and when they make that announcement is totally up to them, and until then, they (and Kardashian) are reminding the world that it's not okay to judge a woman's body.
Bumps can be fabric. They can be food. They can be camera angles. They can be a woman's body recovering from a previous pregnancy. They can just be bumps without a baby because human bodies are bumpy. What they shouldn't be, is speculated about.
Our bodies carry us through life, and yes, sometimes they carry babies, too, but they should not have to carry the burden of anyone else's judgment. The best way to teach people to stop judging women is to stop playing the baby bump guessing game.
The only time it is appropriate to comment on someone's baby bump is after they've made a pregnancy announcement. If society can adopt that one simple rule, celebrities won't have to make not-pregnant announcements, and the rest of us won't have to live with the harmful consequences of bump spotting.
[A version of this post was originally published May 31, 2018. It has been updated.]
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