Why Our Opinions on Jessica's Weight Gain Are More Damaging Than Her Size

Leave Jessica Simpson alone!
Leave Jessica Simpson alone!

I'm pretty sure there's no more fraught subject in pregnancy than weight.

Weight gain, postpartum weight loss, how much, how little, how fast, how important it is, the effect on the baby, the effect on self-esteem, the effect on long term health. There are a million weight-related questions, answers, situations, and outcomes.

And judgements. Lots and lots of judgements.

At this moment there are probably people talking about the size of my ass which is, in a word, huge. But since none of those people are my OB, I'm not especially worried. They're commenting on a pregnancy aesthetic, not the state of my pregnancy. And, luckily for me, none of them have nationally syndicated talk shows or space on TMZ to share their opinion. Jessica Simpson is not that lucky.

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As a piece on Jezebel points out, people are following JSimp's pregnancy weight with the avidity that others follow baseball stats. Picking sides (Team Fatty or Team What? She's Pregnant!) is the new thing among the celebrity commentariat and not a day goes by without someone saying something about how Jessica Simpson looks.

They pretend they're commenting on her health and on pregnancy in general but they don't have enough information to do that. They're really just commenting on her looks and, in effect, accusing her of breaking a covenant with her fans in which she is expected to be beautiful at all times, and her failure to uphold that makes her fair game for ridicule. In truth, the convenant is that she'll provide entertainment and reasonably priced clothing with her name on the label. How she looks is circumstantial, and that is doubly true now that she's pregnant and many aspects of her apearance are beyond her control.

And don't talk to me about her buttered Pop-Tart fetish and try to tell me she should cut that out to stay skinnier. Unless you're her attending physician, you don't get to say that.

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I've long held the position that the only thing anyone should ever say in regards to how a pregnant woman looks is the word "great." Even if saying that is a bald-faced lie, it's still the right word. It's a kind word. It's a palliative word for a woman who's worried about how she looks, an affirmative word for a woman who feels good about how she carries the aesthetics of pregnancy. It's a simple courtesy.

While we might remember to extend that courtesy to the pregnant women in our personal circles, we tend to forget that celebrities are women, too, and feel free to start picking at them the minute they start to show. I seriously doubt Joy Behar would have made such open comments about the pregnancy weight gain of her own sister or best friend, but Ms. Simpson draws her fire. As if Jessica can't hear. As if it might not hurt her feelings to be called fat and all the things that go along with that accusation in pregnancy - irresponsible, selfish, a bad mother.

Sure, saying "Jessica looks great!" is not the ratings-grabber that a rant about her weight is. Maybe it would be if we'd all start flipping the channel whenever anyone with a camera trained on their face felt justified in picking apart any woman for how she looks during a pregnancy. It's just unkind and we should all be better than that.

- By Rebekah Kuschmider
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