“The great thing about being pregnant,” Heidi Klum said in 2009, “is that I don’t have to suck my stomach in. … I can let it all out.” Two years later, Spanx introduced a maternity shapewear line. Three years later, Beyoncé managed to hide a second-trimester belly behind a sequined leotard. Four years later, Kim Kardashian’s maternitywear includes leather leggings, high-waisted brocade peplum pants, a cut-out dress with boning, and structured pantsuits. Is bump-denial the hot new thing in maternity clothing? And if so, how can we stop it? If a pregnant woman can’t “let it all out,” then who can?
Though I have never been pregnant, I am a great fan of “letting it all out.” I once purchased a loose, swingy tee that I found on the clearance rack at Target, not realizing until I was in my bedroom later that night with a torn-off tag in my hand, that the label said “maternity.” It became a wardrobe go-to immediately.
And so I say this with passion: Kim Kardashian is doing maternitywear wrong.
It’s not entirely her fault. Like Kate Middleton, she announced her pregnancy early. (Kate did it out of necessity. Kim did it out of Kardashian.) Consequently, like Kate, Kim’s girth became a source of public fascination before she needed to transition to full-on maternitywear. “I’ve found that I’ve gained inches and I’ve gotten wider but my belly hasn’t popped yet,” Kim reasonably wrote in a blog post entitled “Mommy Blog: Dressing During Early Stages of Pregnancy.” What came next, however, was unreasonable: “At this stage I guess I’m more focused on concealing the weight gain than I am about dressing the bump.” I’m not saying she has to “dress the bump” if she doesn’t want to. But if there’s one time when you don’t need to “conceal weight gain,” it’s when your weight gain is associated with the human organism growing in your torso.
Kate understands. Her belly hasn’t “popped,” either, so her ad hoc maternity garments have so far been wrap dresses and boxy tees from clothing lines designed for non-pregnant women. The key, though, is that these garments adapt easily to expanding bellies. It helps that Kate’s signature style is the wrap dress, a garment so pregnancy-friendly that dresses she wore pre-pregnancy are being adapted preemptively for the maternity market.
Kim’s signature style — body-conscious, waist-defining, and tight — is the antithesis of ease. Though Kanye West famously pushed Kim to ditch clothing that was “too bright, too tight, or too shearling,” the architectural clothing she has worn under his influence isn’t much better for comfort. Attending the Givenchy show in Paris, Kimye wore matching black and white suits, forcing Kim to pioneer the world’s first-ever androgynous maternitywear.
Now, if Kim had not been pregnant, Kimye’s matching outfits might have projected “power couple.” But since Kim is pregnant, she just looks uncomfortable. Even her hair looks uncomfortable, meticulously tight and slick in that way that makes your follicles ache. (And we haven’t even talked about the shoes.)
Kim is capable of comfort. She does it at the gym. She did it on vacation in Rio. She even might have done it after changing out of that horrible Parisian pantsuit and into a drapey vest — but there’s no telling what sort of mid-torso torture device she’s wearing under that fur:
It’s time to release your belly, Kim. To stop concealing your weight. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the rest of America, because this constricted-while-pregnant thing you’re doing sets a dangerous precedent for us all.