A woman holding her pregnant baby bump

Pick up any one of this week’s celebrity gossip magazines and you’re guaranteed to see an image of pregnant Kim Kardashian in a billowing white dress with headlines screaming about how she’s just “TOO FAT!” The tabloids are reveling over Kim’s “dramatic” weight gain, that she’s ballooned to a scandalous “205 lbs,” how she’s gorging herself on frozen yogurt and pancakes and whatever other foods pregnant ladies aren’t supposed to eat if they want to continue to not look pregnant for as long as humanly possible.

Normally, I’m not one to keep up with the Kardashians, let alone defend them in any way. But in this case, I feel for poor Kim. Has she put on some weight through her pregnancy? Of course she has. Has she put on more than most women do? I have no idea, and I’m not going to form a medical opinion based on some paparazzi shots that are probably taken from the most unflattering angle possible. But can we not let this poor woman gestate the spawn of Kanye without scrutinizing the size of her body? Because as unpleasant as all of this gawking must be for her, it’s not any good for the rest of us either.

Here’s the thing that most women who have been pregnant and have had friends who have also been pregnant can tell you: our bodies all react to pregnancy differently. Some of us (and I can’t speak to this one from personal experience) form a perfect little basketball bump that pertly fills out a cute little maternity sweater. Some of us put on an extra 50 lbs of water weight and have to get our wedding rings professionally sawed off by the six-month mark. This often doesn’t have anything to do with how many chicken wings a woman is eating or how well she’s treating her body. Pregnancy hormones are powerful and they don’t always make us glow like the lady on the cover of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

If we all cackle at Kim’s growing bosom and filled-out face, how are other expecting mothers — our sisters, neighbours, and friends — supposed to feel if their bodies don’t fit into the perfect basketball bump category? How are our daughters — and mine is already terrified of motherhood because of constant pop culture references and jokes about the pain of childbirth — supposed to feel good about the prospect of becoming mothers one day themselves?

I get the argument that Kim Kardashian has capitalized on putting her personal life on display, so making fun of her is fair game. But let’s restrict the mocking to the stupid things she does, not the way her body changes throughout pregnancy. This is the one time in her very public life when she can focus on what her body is supposed to do and not how she thinks it’s supposed to look. And if we can let her float around Hollywood in that billowy dress in peace, maybe we can give permission to ourselves to focus on growing healthy kids rather than shrinking our own bodies.