I’m six months postpartum, and when I saw Kardashian’s announcement on Twitter, my first thought was that I wished I’d known about maternity shapewear while I was pregnant. I thought it was a really cool idea, and as someone who was constantly buying new clothes throughout my pregnancy due to my ever-growing body, I was baffled that it wasn’t something I’d come across already.
Out of curiosity I decided to look at the comments beneath the post - which is always a dangerous thing to do. There it was: hundreds of people telling Kim that it was an awful idea, that it was offensive to pregnant women and that pregnant women need to embrace their bodies - not hide them away. Funnily enough, a lot of these comments were coming from women who were neither moms nor pregnant. Even more baffling, the comments were also coming from men.
The few posts I did see from pregnant women and moms praised Kardashian for her line, telling her how amazing it looked and how they wished they’d had something like that during their own pregnancies. It was funny how non-pregnant people were so quick to criticize and speak for pregnant women, while pregnant women themselves were all for it.
Pregnancy shapewear isn’t about hiding your pregnant body. And even if it is for some people, that’s OK. People seem to forget that pregnant women still have insecurities and that a new bump doesn’t take that away. Our bodies might change but our brains don’t fully adjust; we still look in the mirror and notice our flaws.
I was slightly overweight when I first found out I was pregnant, and as the months went on so did the weight. I developed gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension, which made me swollen all the time. As someone who has been body-conscious my entire life, watching my body grow larger and larger was hard. I looked at other moms posing on Instagram looking fabulous while I felt frumpy. I didn’t have that pregnancy glow that everyone talked about. Now, I’m not even sure that it’s a real thing.
I felt like I was pregnant, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw me. Because I was overweight it took time for it to be obvious — but things started to change when I was around 28 weeks. As my pregnancy progressed, I waited and waited for this big, round, glorious bump. That’s what all the other moms had, an obvious and defined baby bump; but that didn’t happen for me. My baby was getting bigger and so was my stomach, but not in the way I wanted. It just looked like a normal belly, except fatter.
I longed for a big round bump that I could hold in photos without having to pose in certain ways just to verify my pregnancy in front of the camera.
I would have loved some shapewear like Kardashian is offering, not because I wanted to look smaller or because I was worried about the cellulite on my legs or my bum, but because I wanted to have a defined pregnancy bump. I wanted it to be firm and round and prominent, not soft and unshapely. I think it would have helped my confidence, and made me feel less uncomfortable when people touched my stomach (often without asking, ugh) - and frequently commented on how they thought it would be much firmer.
Shapewear isn’t just about how you look, it also makes life while pregnant incredibly easier - or so I have learned from the numerous mothers who have advocated for it.
Due to the weight of my bump, I developed symphysis pubis dysfunction, which is where your pelvic joints become stiff and move unevenly at the back or front of your pelvis. It can be seriously painful and can make daily tasks impossible. Sometimes I struggled just to walk to the car without wanting to fall to my knees in pain.
Shapewear can also help to support the stomach and take some pressure off of the hips. It’s also good for your back as it can improve your posture by offering support for your spine. Oh, and bonus points here: Wearing shapewear means there is no visible panty line, and judging by the size of my maternity underwear I could have done with that.
At the end of the day, maternity shapewear is safe as long as it’s comfortable and non-constricting, and, it’s a pregnant woman’s choice whether she wants to wear it or not.
It’s infuriating to see people dismissing and insulting something that hasn’t been designed for them. The criticism comes from people who think they are a voice for pregnant people despite having never been pregnant themselves.
And, the thing is - along with being an avid shapewear-er herself during her own pregnancies, Kardashian is a business woman - and a very talented one at that. She wouldn’t release a unique range with one specific target audience if there wasn’t a high demand for the product.
Kardashian’s maternity shapewear line looks classy and comfortable - and I am totally here for it. And do you know what else I’m here for? Pregnant women doing whatever the hell they like with their bodies - without criticism from people who will never truly “get it.”