Oh, look — it’s a day that ends in y, and another female celeb is being subjected to Media Womb Watch for being audacious enough to relax her workout regimen, eat a little pasta, and enjoy some vacation time.
Today, it’s actress Eva Longoria, who is currently having the time of her life in Athens, Greece, with her husband, José “Pepe” Bastón. When pictures of the beautiful and superfit star surfaced — in which she was wearing a flowing sundress and, later, a teeny green bikini while exhibiting a little extra around the middle — snoops started suggesting that she was with child. That prompted Us Weekly to reach out to Longoria’s people and do a story around her rep saying “not true” to the rumors.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the scrutinizing of her body. The Daily Mail posted pictures of Longoria in her bikini with a blaring headline saying that she was “showing off her curves.” And while the accompanying article said she looked sensational, which seems a step up from the body shaming we used to do when a celeb dared to not be perfectly rail-thin, they still peppered the story with comments about her “pert assets,” along with her “peachy posterior.”
Longoria has been subject to these rumors before, as recently as April of this year during a Hawaiian birthday celebration for her beloved. That time, she took to Snapchat to dress everyone down for their bump speculation. “I saw some pictures of myself [looking] really fat on a boat,” she said. “I have to tell you, all I did was eat cheese. So that’s the news of the day. I’m not pregnant, just eating a lot of cheese, a lot of wine, a lot of pancakes.
“Everybody is saying I’m pregnant and I’m not,” she continued. “I was just lactose intolerant apparently. I just had to share because my whole family is calling me asking if I’m pregnant. Yes, I look pregnant, but it was just a ball of cheese, a ball of cheese in my stomach. But seriously, I looked so fat, but you know what? That happens to people. Everybody gets bloated. I’m not bloated today, but this is pre-pancake. I’m about to go eat a pancake.”
It’s troubling that Longoria is still forced to address her body and its weight fluctuations in this way, especially after how eloquently actress Jennifer Aniston broke down the toxicity of this routine in a powerful essay for Huffington Post last year. After the umpteenth speculative story about the state of her uterus, Aniston took to the internet to share her dismay and disgust over the celebrity bump watch phenomenon, and put the focus on what the underlying issue really is: our societal objectification and possessive ownership of women’s bodies.
“If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues,” Aniston wrote. “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”
Aniston went on to write that these cultural standards need to be seen as a collective acceptance and subconscious agreement, pointing out how little girls are constantly subjected to the subtle message that they’re not anything unless they’re thin and gorgeous. She also addressed how celebrity news perpetuates the dehumanization of women and talked about how this invasive discussion leads to a toxic mindset.
“This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status,” Aniston stated. “The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”
Determining the state of a celeb’s womb has practically become sport at this point. Consider the frenzy that happened earlier this summer when actress Halle Berry, 51, posed on the red carpet with her hands on her stomach — apparently, the universal symbol for “I’m expecting.” And because that stomach wasn’t sucked in or perfectly taut, the internet went bananas and suggested that she was with child — finally prompting Berry to issue a response. “Can a girl have some steak and fries?” she wrote on Instagram. Apparently not.
Of course, no discourse on womb watch would be complete without including singer Gwen Stefani, 47, who has been the subject of pregnancy rumors ever since her relationship with The Voice co-star Blake Shelton started. But the latest round features Stefani on the cover of a tabloid, with breathless sources claiming that Stefani’s “body language” proves she’s in the early stages of pregnancy, because “she is walking differently and holding her body differently, almost covering up or protecting her belly the exact same way she did last time she was pregnant.”
Ugh. Even some gossip sites have a “bump watch” tag to corral all their celeb belly scrutinization (which can apparently go both ways, as TMZ recently posted a story asking why Robin Thicke’s girlfriend, April Love, didn’t look pregnant enough).
Certainly, we all take an interest in other people’s lives because we’re curious, and celebrities do tons of interesting and exciting things. It can be exhilarating and inspiring to live life vicariously through them. But at what point does the line get drawn? At what point does the interest turn into invasive and objectifying speculation that does more harm than good? At what point does a female celeb get to have ownership of her own body, through every fluctuation and change it may experience, without having to answer to the public? And why do we feel that her body is so much our possession that we can and should project our own ideas and ideals on it? Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves these questions — and do something better with the answers.
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