Every day the word “fat” shows up and it is always uninvited. When I was last home from school in June, I brought up Kim Kardashian during a family dinner. I hadn’t even completed my thought about how disgusting I found the media’s emphasis on her weight gain during her pregnancy, before my mother interrupted me: “Yeah. She got really fat.” I paused and looked at my father, hoping that he would start a riot on my behalf; he just mumbled his medical opinion under his breath, saying, “You know, it’s very unhealthy for the baby to gain that much weight. Could be Eclampsia, which is very serious.”
Yes, gaining too much weight is unsafe for a baby, but that’s not what the media is emphasizing. If concern for her health was the reason for all of the speculation around Kim, then I would support it. But that is not the case. Kim, like many other women before and after her, was being treated as a shaming spectacle because she is supposed to be the success story for hopeful dieters. We might as well burn her on the stake for breaking the image that we, as a society, have paid her millions of dollars- by watching her television show, buying her products, and using the diet pills she endorsed- to keep.
I am a year and a half into recovery after a seven-year battle with bulimia and anorexia, and this spectacle makes me furious. For me and so many other women, this public shaming is making the world a harder place to live in; every turn we take there is someone telling us we are not good enough because we are not thin enough; we are not the “ideal”.
An example of this daily assault is a response I received to this tweet: “Who knew that at the ripe age of 20 I would finally develop breasts! Puberty is great!” Merely mentioning a body part elicited about 12 spam tweets. I was bombarded with “I've never felt so amzn try this diet!” and “fnly ready 4 summer! drop 15 lbs in 12 days!”
I didn’t drop fifteen pounds in twelve days this summer; I didn’t try any “amzn” diets. However, I did unexpectedly grow a cup size and an inch taller in the last year, a result of—gasp—listening to my body and eating when I was hungry. Amazing stuff, isn’t it? The fact that feeding myself was a novel idea until only recently is unforgiveable. From a young age I was told to crave hunger, to strive for it. If I went to bed satisfied, I felt that I had failed. This left me physically and emotionally starved but now, rather than mourning my weight gain like I am “supposed” to, I am celebrating what I have gained because I think that more is better. I mean, who doesn’t love something new every once in a while?
My new self-acceptance is questioned at every turn, every single day. The not-so-amazing part of publicly celebrating my new curves is the spam that pervades both Twitter and real life. Kim Kardashian is criticized for gaining weight when a HUMAN BEING is growing inside of her. How are we going to move away from this culture of body shaming when we are all suffering from it and/or continuing the cycle? By paying for tabloids, crash diet plans, and diet pills, we are perpetuating a societal disease that is unhealthy and unsafe. All I can say is that I’m going to keep tweeting about my freshly developed breasts... Sorry TMZ and Weight Watchers.
Paulina Pinsky is currently a Junior at Barnard College studying American Studies with a concentration in Media and Popular Culture. She is interested in the representation and exploitation of women's bodies in the media, and how that impacts the self esteem of women. She believes that size and weight does not define a person, and that only through unbridled self-acceptance can a person develop to their full potential. She is a proud member of Endangered Bodies NYC.
Of course sudden weight gain in pregnancy is cause for concern, because it can indicate pre-eclampsia. I had this condition when I was pregnant. After I had my son, I had to tighten my shoelaces several times, because of how swollen my feet and ankles had been. However, this is not what anyone was talking about with Kim Kardashian. Believe me, I am no fan of Kim, but nobody should have to endure the bullying she received when she was pregnant. That was beyond horrible.
I hope you will keep advocating for size acceptance. I don’t know what career you are planning on pursuing, but you would be a wonderful medical doctor, psychologist, or both!