Ever since actress Jessica Biel married pop star Justin Timberlake, the world has been on baby Timberlake bump watch. Jessica, like every married celebrity, can barely eat a salad without someone reporting she’s knocked up and sporting a baby bump. And for weeks, the press has been insisting that she is pregnant, although neither Biel nor Timberlake have responded to the rumors. Maybe she is and she just wants to keep the news under wraps, like these celebs did, or maybe she’s not and so there’s nothing to comment on.
Of course, we non-famous folk are no different. From the second any girl says, “I do,” everyone around her seems to say, “Is she?”
Before I had kids, I could tell when I was talking to someone who was bump stalking me. I hadn’t been married more than a few weeks before I felt like everyone I knew, or didn’t know, was checking out my tummy to see if it looked a little fuller, bigger…and pregnant. I could tell that every word I said was being scrutinized for proof that I was with child. And now that I have kids and don’t have my pre-baby flat tummy, the bump stalking has really gotten out of hand.
Personally, nothing can send me into a fat-shame tail spin quicker than people staring at my stomach. Sure they’re just doing their own personal baby CSI on my mid-section and don’t mean any harm by it. But in my mind I assume that if they’re thinking I look pregnant, I must look pregnant.
Last month, actress Jennifer Garner bravely admitted that she wasn’t pregnant with her fourth child as had been reported. She said she just had a permanent baby bump, the result of having had three kids. So while it’s pretty safe to assume Jessica is pregnant, what if she weren’t? What if she had just put on a few pounds or taken a few months off from the gym for a while and everyone’s staring at her stomach and looking for proof that she’s pregnant instead of just a little bigger than normal? On one hand, we say don’t shame women about their bodies. The very next day, we stare at their gut wondering if they are pregnant or just chubby.
Modern day women face an astounding level of scrutiny on their bodies. Celebrities or not, one has to have incredibly thick skin to deal with the constant stomach glances, questions and stares that come a woman’s way. And if you’ve ever been asked if you’re pregnant when you’re not like I have, you know it’s pretty humiliating.
So congratulations to Jessica and Justin — if the news that they are expecting their first child is true. And I bow down to Jennifer Garner for gracefully admitting she didn’t have a flat tummy. It’s a shame that any woman has to defend the size of her stomach. So the next time someone eyeballs my tummy or asks if I’m pregnant when I’m not I’m going to respond by saying, “No, I’m not pregnant. Are you?” They probably won’t ask again.