What’s with the body-shaming, Paula?

My name is Kim Powell, so if a headline mentions Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il, Kim Kardashian, Colin Powell, Julie Powell, Baden Powell or Powell Peralta, I’m gonna notice it.

So of course I noticed this, on the SMH homepage:

Article by Paula Joye about Kim Kardashian, on smh.com.au

Oh noes! Someone doesn’t like what someone famous is wearing!

It’s a column by Paule Joye, What’s with the outfits Kim?:

I’ve been sitting on my hands trying not to write this one. Predominantly because I believe we/me/society should leave pregnancy and pregnant women alone. Give them a break.

When you’re pregnant everyone has an opinion. About your body, the sex of your baby and what type of birth you might have. Suddenly you become public property and for nine months you must endure a peanut gallery whose members range from the neighbours mother-in-law to a stranger at the supermarket.

I’m pretty sure you can guess where this is going.

I know all to well what it’s like to be told ‘you must be having a girl because it’s stolen your beauty’. So Kim, it’s important you know that I write this from a place of love.

I know, I know, it’s easy to confuse “love” with “mean-spirited body-shaming”. I do it all the time.

What’s up with the maternity outfits?

Someone has to let that poor girl know that fashion and pregnancy go together like socks and sandals. Or nails down a blackboard. That the second trimester is not the time to be posing in a pink, neon jumpsuit underneath the statue of Jesus in Brazil. Or the moment to trial a dominatrix-inspired organza cape. Or a feather mini-skirt. Now’s the time for elasticised waist bands and no under wire. Now’s the time to take a fashion sabbatical.

Why isn’t it the time to wear those things? Seems to me that the time you want to wear a pink neon jumpsuit is the time you should wear it. So when she says “I believe we/me/society should leave pregnancy and pregnant women alone”, what she really means is “people should leave me alone when I’m pregnant, but I’m allowed to be mean and silly towards other pregnant women”.


Now Kim wears the kind of clothes we’re used to seeing on fashion editors, supermodels and Cate Blanchet. Not small, curvy women. Particularly not small, curvy, pregnant women.

You’re missing a t in Blanchett there, love. But typos aside – because we all do them and she did quite a few of them and god I hope there aren’t any in this post – women can wear whatever the hell they want to wear. And that includes “small, curvy, pregnant” women.

I’d like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this video she created in August 2010, praising Instyle editor Kerrie McCallum for “breezing through” her pregnancy looking “glamorous” and “like a supermodel”:

In this video, Paula Joye says she still wore heels when pregnant – yet apparently Kim Kardashian needs to ditch the heels and wear ballet flats. In this video she also says you should wear things that “accentuate your bump”, and that you should wear skinny jeans so you don’t look frumpy and that, even when pregnant, your outfits should always be flattering. (The video also shows paparazzi shots of pregnant married celebrities to Beyonce’s ‘All the Single Ladies’. I’m really not sure what that’s about.)

I’d also like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this piece she wrote in June 2012:


Meet the most stylish pregnant woman on the planet – Bronwyn McCahon.

At 37 weeks pregnant with baby number two she looks as she always does – cool, chic and polished… what I love so much about her maternity style is the ability she has to still dress like herself no matter what the bump is doing.

Ah, so it’s praiseworthy when her friends dress this way, but when a celebrity that she’ll most likely never meet does it, then it requires a nasty, body-shaming article on the website of a major broadsheet. Silly me for not seeing that difference.

And I’d like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this piece she wrote in March 2012:

I went through pregnancy wearing non maternity clothes – except for a single pair of jeans – opting instead for lots of stretch jersey in jumbo sizes because I couldn’t relate to the pregnant bodies in the maternity catalogues.

Seems to me that Kim Kardashian is doing the same thing – wearing non-maternity clothes. Besides, between her reality show and the paparazzi mobbing her every time she’s out in public (to get photos that editors like Paula Joye buy), is it that surprising that Kardashian is making sure they don’t get a bad photo of her?

I guess Kim all I really wanted to say was that even though you’re a Kardashian and Mrs West you’re also pregnant and you should be allowed to dress for it.

But you’re not allowed to dress the way you want, obviously.

If pregnancy taught me anything it was that people like me need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves (clearly, I’m still evolving), that fashion will always be there and that elastic is a truly happy place.

That doesn’t even make sense. You either learned that lesson or you didn’t. And you didn’t. But keep trying, Paula, and maybe one day you’ll be mature enough that you don’t feel you have to body-shame a pregnant woman.

20 responses to “What’s with the body-shaming, Paula?

  1. Yesss yes yes yes yesssssss.
    Just because someone happens to be a Kardashian, doesn’t mean that they are somehow exempt from all the things that are praiseworthy when other women do them.

  2. So…. As a small, curvy woman, can I wear elastic, or not? I’m so confused by the numerous rules that Paula is espousing here… Whilst NOT, of course, telling pregnant women what to wear (because it is, of course, fine to tell a non-pregnant (unpregnant?) woman what to wear).

    It took me a LOT of years before I realised that “swimsuits for every shape” articles missed the important “size 6″ disclaimer. It will clearly take several more years to understand the rules for pregnancy dressing!!!! (Thankfully, it’ll probably take that long before it matters…. Might take longer til I care)

    • I think what Paula Joye is saying is that even though she’ll never meet Kim Kardashian, she doesn’t like her because she’s the wrong type of celebrity because she does what she wants to do – and is very successful at it – and not what people like Joye want her to do. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

    • As a small curvy woman I HAVE to wear elastic, or get a tailor. SO as a small (In stature, not in waist size) woman on the pension, it better be elastic.

  3. This is the kind of article that should be restricted to Paula Joye’s blog or indeed, left to dinner conversations between herself and her equally pass remarkable friends. Mind you telling other women off for not being like us? That is the journalistic gift that never stops giving…

  4. I unsubscribed from her newsletter a few years ago when I received one titled “what to wear when your pregnant”. One of my spelling pet hates. Do magazine writers generally have journalism training?

    • As in a degree? Some do, but there are always some who get in because they’re really good writers or because they know someone or because they pitch good stories. But I haven’t worked in magazines since 2006 so I’m probably talking out of my arse.

      • I can’t bear her writing & I feel the same way about Mia Freedman. Poor arguments, sourcing & grammar.

        • Oh, Mia Freedman makes me mad. She calls herself a feminist and then tells women what to do, what to call their kids, what to wear, how to be mini-Mia clones, because women can’t be trusted with their own lives. Then, when you pull her up for it, she goes blah blah blah, “I’m hearing lots of people use the word judgey to shut down discussion” (I could probably dig out that tweet she sent me, using those words, because I said it was none of her business what other people named their kids).

          • The naming kids Tweet fight was hysterical, honestly!

          • I posted a comment on her site years ago about how, at the time, most of the content was lifted from but not attributed to Jezebel. At the time Jezebel was new, it was actually good, and it’s writers were being paid by page view, so the plaigarising pissed me off. I was slammed by other commenters & Mia herself wrote an incredibly patronizing response along the lines of “ummm, that’s how the Internet works”. Grrrrrrr.

            • Of course she’d say that – she doesn’t pay contributers. They get paid in “exposure”. Fuck that shit. If you make money from other people’s work, then you pay them. No one goes to mamamia for the ads. So exploitative.

  5. Pingback: Welcome to Monday ~ 25 February 2013 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism

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