The internet usually has between 250 and 4,000 annoying trends happening at once, but this one, or these two rather, are really making my blood boil. They aren’t memes or hashtags or gifs, or even ridiculously endless discussions about how to pronounce gif. They are two phrases: “bikini body” and “showing off her baby bump.” If you’re not immediately nodding to yourself, agreeing that your eyes have been recently polluted with these phrases, you’re probably not familiar with the internet and don’t need to read any further. Just go back to your loom or whittling or whatever and I’ll continue.
Go to Twitter and search for “bikini body” and “baby bump.” Your feed won’t even be able to keep up. Every few seconds, a new one appears. Worse, many are being generated by actual media outlets. I don’t know how Huffington Post doesn’t have an entire page dedicated to bikini bodies and baby bumps, as they produce about ten stories a day with these phrases in the headline.
So why should this phenomenon should be categorized under “disease” rather than
“trending topic”? Well. Let’s begin with the obsession with baby bumps. Yes, babies are exciting. I understand this is a weird way of expressing that. However, when any pregnant woman going out in public is designated “showing off her baby bump,” it ceases to be excitement and becomes accusatory. “Showing off” indicates that the pregnant woman has some questionable, if not nefarious motivation for daring to be in public while carrying a child. Not that she’s out of groceries or desirous of seeing a movie or going to work. How dare she be so bold.
In addition to judging these women for simply being outside, then we get to judge their “handing” of their pregnancy by their clothing. If they wear loose-fitting clothing, they are “letting it all go.” If they are wearing tight-fitting clothing, well they are definitely sexualizing their fetus, and we can all rub our hands together and feel validated for all our staring and pointing.
Obviously, pregos should be modestly cloistered away until their unsightly condition is corrected. After which we may immediately begin to monitor and judge the speed with which the woman in question is able to re-ascertain her bikini body. By “bikini body” we mean the impossibly thin universal standard that the myriad female body shapes are expected to achieve by any means including self-loathing and starvation, but if you say “bikini body” it is somehow socially acceptable.
Perhaps because the people we are all monitoring and ogling and judging are celebrities, we feel the owe us the decency of getting super thin super fast immediately after nearly a year of growing, nurturing and expelling a human being from their lady parts. And of course, they have dietitians and trainers and nannies and nowhere for months on end. So we should not be so surprised/horrified/in awe when they get into their “bikini bodies” in a hurry.
The problem is that all this fuss normalizes this obsession with judging women in
general and pregnant women specifically. When the Huffington Post, et. al publishes umpteen stories a week praising and/or shaming the bodies of celebrity mothers, it makes regular new mothers — who can’t afford a nanny during their four-hour daily yoga class, and can hardly think straight for lack of sleep, let alone prepare healthy meals — expect they have to whip themselves back into their “bikini bodies” too. Like feeling fat is what you should have to worry about when a tiny, screaming human needs to eat part of your body several times a day.
Sadly, the only reason things become things on the internet is when people click on them. This means the internet’s obsession with baby bumps and bikini bodies is our obsession with them. I don’t think, however, it’s a true reflection of our values, but only of our lack of really thinking about what we’re doing. Most of us aren’t really aware we’re perpetuating anything when we click on these headlines that are crafted specifically to tempt us to do just that. I’ve clicked on these things out of curiosity and/or because I’m a judgy human just like everyone else. But that tells editors and junk content creators that we like it and want more.
But let’s make it stop now. Just stop clicking.