Claire Danes was extremely unimpressed when, after learning she was pregnant, Howard Stern decided to make an unsolicited comment about her body.
Claire Danes – famed for her starring turns in Homeland, Romeo + Juliet, Little Women, Shopgirl and more – recently confirmed that she is expecting her second child with her husband, Hugh Dancy.
Announcing the news on Sirius XM’s Howard Stern Show, the actress said: “I’m pregnant. I’m seriously preggo. I’m deep into my second trimester.”
Rather than offer his congratulations, though, Stern decided to offer up an unsolicited comment about Danes’ physical appearance.
“You look so thin,” he said, feigning surprise.
Unwilling to accept his comment as the compliment it was no doubt intended to be, Danes issued an icy response.
“I’m seated,” she pointed out.
And, when Stern pressed her for further details about her second child, Danes dismissed him.
“I’m going to keep that [information] to myself,” she informed him.
Of course, Stern is not the first person to assume that women should look a certain way while pregnant.
Less than two weeks after Chrissy Teigen announced her second pregnancy with her husband, John Legend, she was criticised on social media by those who speculated that her bump was “too big” considering how far along she was in her pregnancy (although, to be clear, no one besides those close to Teigen know how far along she is). Kim Kardashian, likewise, saw her picture emblazoned under headlines like “65lb Weight Gain” and “I Can’t Stop Eating!” when she was pregnant with Saint West.
Elsa Pataky, meanwhile, attended the 2014 Oscars whilst pregnant with twins, yet still saw herself viciously body-shamed by the self-styled ‘fashion police’ on E! (“That doesn’t look like a baby bump,” said George Kotsiopoulos at the time. “It looks like a beer belly!”).
And Beyonce, during her pregnancy with Blue Ivy, was subjected to an article focused on her pregnancy weight gain, damning her for taking “eating for two to heart”.
And if women aren’t “too big” during their pregnancies, they’re “too small”.
Kate Middleton, shortly after announcing her third pregnancy with her husband, Prince William, was lambasted for looking like a “malnourished anorexic”. Khloe Kardashian was accused of looking “too small” at the six month point in her pregnancy. Jaime King was told to “eat a sandwich” when she was expecting her second child in 2015. And Instagram star Chiara Ferragni was met with intense body-shaming when she excitedly showed off her baby bump with followers, with one troll typing: “I think my stomach was even bigger than this after our Thanksgiving dinner.”
It’s not just women in the public eye whose bodies are considered public property when it comes to opinions and advice – a point underlined by a post on the BabyCentre Community, which has seen countless women come forward to share their own experiences of “bump shaming”.
And it’s not even a requirement that women be pregnant to be subjected to bump shaming: Halle Berry, Eva Longoria and countless others have been forced to respond to pregnancy reports solely because they decided to treat themselves to a large lunch.
It all brings us back to the point made by Jennifer Aniston in her now infamous essay: this sort of gossip perpetuates a “dehumanising view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance”.
Aniston went on to highlight the fact that, by focusing solely on a woman’s body, we are greatly damaging young girls’ self-esteem – not to mention the fact that it implies that, for a woman, being pregnant is the ultimate goal.
“I resent being made to feel ‘less than’ because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: ‘pregnant’ or ‘fat’,” she wrote.
Aniston continued: “Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone.”