Seriously, it’s time to stop with the celebrity pregnancy speculation
The endless speculation about who’s pregnant or trying to conceive is exhausting, and could be much more harmful (and hurtful) than anyone realises.
Yes, of course, it’s lovely to celebrate the news that someone we admire is expecting but that celebration should come after – and only after – said person has actually announced that news to the public themselves. If they haven’t done so yet, there’s probably a reason for it.
As any woman of childbearing age will tell you, the questions regarding when they plan on “settling down” or starting a family can quickly swerve into dangerous territory. Most of the time, the queries come from well-intentioned friends and relatives who ask out of genuine interest or as small talk pleasantries. It’s not always a topic people want to discuss though, and there are myriad reasons why it should be off-limits.
From fertility struggles to poor family health histories to miscarriages, couples could be dealing with any number of things behind the scenes.
For the record
As bad as it is for us “normal” people, it’s 10 times worse for celebrities – Jennifer Aniston, for example, who has been plagued by the media for years about her decision not to pursue motherhood. A quick Google search of her name yields thousands upon thousands of articles about whether she has kids, if she plans on having kids, why she doesn’t have kids etc.
Trying to put the whole thing to bed back in 2016, the actor penned a searingly honest essay for The Huffington Post in which she said, “For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism’, the ‘First Amendment’ and ‘celebrity news’.”
This op-ed by Jennifer Aniston on body shaming and the spectacle of celebrity is perfect. https://t.co/48BqNqz30u
— Adam (@abohannon) July 13, 2016
“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies,” she wrote in response to yet more conjecture about her womb. That should have been the end of it, but of course, the speculation over how/if children will factor into her future still continues six years on.
Kids… or career?
Speaking on the topic again in a recent interview for Allure, Aniston revealed that the constant speculation was especially painful for her as she spent much of her late 30s and 40s privately trying to get pregnant. “It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road… all the years and years and years of speculation. It was really hard.
“I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it,” she continued. “I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favour.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”
She has zero regrets though. “I actually feel a little relief now because there is no more, ‘Can I? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.’ I don’t have to think about that anymore.” The media perpetuated the idea that Aniston was ‘selfish’, career-driven, uninterested in starting a family. Her husband left her because she “wouldn’t give him a kid”, they told us… needless to say, it was excruciating to watch that narrative play out given the reality of the situation.
tabloids FOR YEARS made up that she was pregnant & after this all time she never became pregnant because she couldn’t JENNIFER ANISTON DESERVES AN APOLOGY pic.twitter.com/wlPQcyQglV
— King Jazzy ? (@KingJasmlne) November 9, 2022
“I got so frustrated. Hence that op-ed I wrote. I was like, ‘I’ve just got to write this because it’s so maddening and I’m not superhuman to the point where I can’t let it penetrate and hurt,” the Friends star admitted.
Aniston isn’t the only one to be tailed by such rumours throughout her life – we’ve all witnessed the scrutiny Meghan Markle has come under firsthand. It’s hard to believe that someone could have it worse than Jen did, but Meghan definitely takes the crown in this case (no pun intended).
Criticised for wearing maternity clothes mere months after giving birth to Archie, the tabloids were laden with close-ups of her midsection; each one accompanied by thoughtless captions about “not losing the baby weight”, or surmising she was pregnant yet again. Such was the furore over whether she was with child, that it overshadowed a subsequent interview she gave to ITV – one in which she admitted how damaging the constant media circus had been for her, Harry and their new family unit.
A reminder that Meghan Markle is visibly pregnant & once again the British media are choosing to brutally torment her. 24/7 in print, online, tv & radio like they did when she was pregnant with Archie. All sanctioned by the royal family & w Jason Knauf as d connection. Inhumanity
— Tennisfan aka Jacqueline (@tennisfanv3) May 13, 2021
Hinting that she was overwhelmed by motherhood and the incessant public interest that came with it, no one paid any heed to her comments and people continued to hypothesise she was pregnant with her second child right up until the couple’s surprise announcement in February last year.
Then last August, Kylie Jenner found herself the subject of the public’s special pregnancy microscope when rumours she was pregnant with her second child began circulating.
The youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie had already seen several of her sisters go through the pregnancy process and all that it entailed. Unlike her siblings, the makeup mogul decided that she wanted some privacy and impressively managed to keep her first pregnancy under wraps for the entire nine months – only revealing that she was expecting after she had already given birth.
Credited with pioneering a “whole new way of being pregnant on the internet” by Harper’s Bazaar, the decision to keep things to herself was more than just a PR stunt as some people have suggested. Asked why the secrecy on a Keeping Up With The Kardashians reunion special, Kylie said that it was something she felt she needed to do.
“I shared so much of my life,” she told host Andy Cohen. “I was also really young when I got pregnant, and it was just a lot for me personally. I didn’t know how I would bring that to the public too and have everyone’s opinion. I think it was just something that I needed to go through by myself.”
Her sisters agreed, with Kim interjecting about her own experiences. “There were times when we would be driving and pregnant, and paparazzi would almost crash into our cars because they just wanted a picture. Kylie really wanted to, I think, protect her safety, the baby, and have that just be a private moment.”
Again, you’d think that that would have been the end of it, but it wasn’t long before the internet was awash with “Is Kylie pregnant?” articles once more. The lengths the reality star went to to hide her first pregnancy should have been proof enough that she didn’t want people to know. As should the Instagram posts that followed, which featured a bikini-clad Jenner showing the world just how *not pregnant* she was.
As we now know, the reality star announced that she was pregnant only a couple of weeks later… but would she have done so had there not been such public interest?
Leave me alone
More recently, Hailey Bieber has had to fight off media speculation that she and husband, Justin Bieber, are expecting.
Attending the Grammy ceremony together back in April, Hailey looked effortlessly cool in a strapless Saint Laurent dress. However, while most eyes were on her fashion choices, a small minority were intent on stirring the pot and a subsequent Instagram post from Radar Online claimed that fans were “convinced” she was pregnant due to her “flowing gown” choice.
I can’t believe ‘reputable’ media outlets STILL if a woman (Hailey Bieber) is pregnant based off ‘what looks like a bump.’ Bloating? Period? None of your business? If they wanted you to know they’ve conceived, they’d tell you. Otherwise, don’t ask or ‘speculate.’ So degrading.
— April (@april_atteridge) April 5, 2022
Spotting the completely unfounded headline on social media, Hailey felt compelled to address the situation and simply commented, “I’m not pregnant leave me alone”. But again, this isn’t the first time such rumours have emerged and the model was forced to speak out back in 2019 too. “No, I’m not pregnant I just really love food,” she posted after paparazzi photos of her touching her stomach claimed to “validate” the pregnancy gossip.
Society has taught us that having children is the only marker of a woman’s success in life, but it’s not something everyone wants for themselves – nor is it always possible. Publicly speculating about a woman’s body and whether she plans on starting a family is nothing but harmful… so, why then are we so obsessed with beating celebrities to the punchline and uncovering the “truth”?