The Baby singer has been forced to apologise for his controversial April Fools’ pregnancy prank, but why did the joke prove so divisive in the first place?
On April Fools’ Day, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of your Facebook friends will pull the oft-told “I’m pregnant” joke.
It’s an age-old tradition – and one which has even seeped into celebrity culture, with Justin Bieber announcing Hailey Baldwin’s pregnancy on Instagram, only to later reveal it was merely a prank.
However, fans of the star couple didn’t take the joke lightly. At all. Indeed, many slammed the Baby singer for being “grossly insensitive” and demanded he issue an apology.
Responding to these complains, Bieber said: “There’s always gonna be people offended, there’s also people who don’t take jokes very well, I am a prankster and it was APRIL FOOLS,” he wrote. “I didn’t at all mean to be insensitive to people who can’t have children.”
“It’s like when I shoved cake in my little sisters face for her birthday expecting her to laugh but she cried,” the caption continued. “You sometimes just don’t know what will hurt someone’s feelings not to compare pregnancy with cake in the face but it’s just to paint the picture of not knowing what will offend.”
It is all too easy to agree with Bieber. To say that people are too easily offended nowadays, and that a pregnancy prank is just an easy way to score a few laughs on 1 April every year.
However, it’s worth remembering that, for those women who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, as well as those who are struggling to conceive or dealing with infertility issues, it absolutely isn’t funny.
Miscarriage is the most common kind of pregnancy loss, affecting around one in four pregnancies – and yet, despite this, it’s a painful subject that remains shrouded in silence.
And that is why, two years ago, Kayla Lee Welch decided to open up about her experiences in a powerful Facebook post, in a bid to help people understand why pregnancy pranks are hurtful and insensitive.
Two weeks before 1 April 2017, Welch discovered that she had lost her baby.
Sharing a photo of herself holding a ‘positive’ pregnancy test, her face red from tears, Welch writes: “This is why your April Fools’ joke isn’t funny. This is why it’s not funny to lie and joke about being pregnant.
“This is what it looks like to have a miscarriage.”
In the post, which recently went viral again after being shared last year, Welch reveals that, when she started spotting, she convinced herself that it was “normal” because she experienced it during her first pregnancy.
“This time it wasn’t,” she says. “I avoid laying down to go to sleep because as soon as I hit the bed I’m alone with all of my thoughts.
“My brain has finally stopped distracting itself from the one thing breaking my heart. And all I can do is cry.”
Welch continues: “Crying so hard that you go numb and feel nothing anymore. Being so angry and upset at everything but not being able to explain why. Trying to be happy that your baby never knew anything other than love.
“And missing someone so dearly that you never even met. It’s a pain no one can describe. Because how can you properly grieve someone you never got to meet?”
Although a year has passed since Welch went through her miscarriage (she is currently pregnant), her her plea is every bit as important this year for grieving mothers as it was previously.
“Please think twice before you post that April Fools’ joke,” she states, “because what’s funny for a second in your eyes crushes someone else’s heart for eternity.”
A Miscarriage Association survey on attitudes to pregnancy loss recently revealed that, while the majority of respondents believed talking to someone who’s had a miscarriage would help that person, 32% said they would not feel comfortable doing do, even for a close friend – and when asked why, the most-cited reason was not knowing what to say.
If you are at a loss for words, Stylist’s Amy Swales has shared a list of suggestions for what to say and what not to say to a friend going through a miscarriage.
However, Swales stresses that even a simple “I’m sorry” is a good start, as it opens up the conversation across the silence.
Visit the Miscarriage Association website for help and support
The helpline is manned Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm – 01924 200799 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org