There are some downsides to being a woman in the public eye, not least being subjected to ruthless, misogynistic body-shaming.
From Eva Longoria to Alyson Hannigan, countless female stars have seen tabloids bear false headlines about their ‘baby bumps’ (generally a means of penning unsavoury comments about a woman’s physical appearance). In 2016, Jennifer Aniston decided enough was enough and wrote a blistering missive about how tiresome it is to have to defend any change in her body, calling out suggestions that she was secretly pregnant for what they really were: “absurd and disturbing”.
And she was right: no one should need reminding that a woman’s body is not something to speculate over.
But now, after daring to place a hand somewhere near the region of her own midriff, Halle Berry is the latest high-profile actor targeted by pregnancy rumours.
Over the weekend, Berry, 50, attended the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in Los Angeles, posing on the red carpet in a glittering gown of ethereal silver sequins.
She also briefly placed a hand on her stomach, which celebrity gossip mills everywhere leapt upon as an excuse to dissect her appearance.
While the actor’s representative has issued a formal statement clarifying that Berry is not pregnant (and, even if she was, it wouldn’t be anyone’s business but her own), the actor has since taken to her Instagram feed to publish her own badass response.
Sharing a photo of herself at home – complete with bedhead hair and some serious side eye – Berry pointedly wrote: “Can a girl have some steak and fries?”
You 100% can do whatever the hell you want.
Berry is not the first actor to defend her right to, y’know, eat actual food: Longoria similarly revealed that her so-called ‘baby bump’ was down to her fondness for cheese.
“I have to tell you all I did was eat cheese,” she told fans in one of her 2016 Instagram stories. “Everybody is saying I'm pregnant and I'm not. I was just lactose intolerant apparently. I just had to share because my whole family is calling me asking me if I'm pregnant.
“Yes, I look pregnant, but that was just a ball of cheese in my stomach...everybody gets bloated.”
It all brings us back to the point made by Aniston in her essay: this sort of gossip perpetuates a “dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance […]
“Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go?”
Aniston went on to point out that focusing solely on a woman’s body will have a terrible impact on 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 […]
“We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”
Images: Rex Features