When Did It Get Ok Again To Publicly Speculate About A-List Pregnancies?

Lady Gaga has taken to TikTok to deny the rumours that she is pregnant.

Jennifer Aniston

by Alice Hall |
Published on

Lady Gaga has become the latest celebrity to fall victim of the pregnancy rumour mill.

It started when paparazzi shots circulated of her with a slightly curved stomach, as she attended her sister’s wedding. This led to a slew of headlines speculating that she might be pregnant, from ‘Lady Mama?’ to ‘Lady Gaga sparks pregnancy rumours as she “displays bump” at family wedding.’ Another went so far as to say that she had ‘shared dreams of having “a very strong family with at least three children” in a past interview.’

Naturally, the rumours have also taken off on social media. ‘Lady Gaga is glowing and totally looks pregnant!’ wrote one X user. Eventually, the singer and actress took to social media to deny it. She accompanied a video posted to her TikTok page with the caption 'Not pregnant - just down bad cryin at the gym', a reference to the song Down Bad from Taylor Swift's new album The Tortured Poets Department.

Gaga joins a long line of celebrities who have recently been subject to pregnancy rumours, which feel like a throwback to the heyday of noughties tabloids. Hailey Bieber, Sienna Miller, and Suki Waterhouse all experienced speculation around their pregnancies before they officially announced them. For Hailey, the rumours started as far back as 2017 (when she was just 21), after she made an appearance at the Daily Front Row Fashion Awards. She responded to the rumours with a tweet that quipped ‘Yes, I’m pregnant and Kendall Jenner is the baby mama’ – but the speculation only increased year after year.

This led Hailey to address the pregnancy rumours in interviews, opening up to GQ last year about how they had affected her. ‘Recently, everybody was like, “Oh, my God, she’s pregnant,” and that’s happened to me multiple times before,’ she said. ‘There is something that’s disheartening about, Damn, I can’t be bloated one time and not be pregnant? It would be a lie if I was like, “Oh, yeah, I don’t give a shit.”’ She added that ‘when there comes a day’ that she is pregnant, ‘you, you as in the internet, will be the last to know.’ Hailey and Justin publicly revealed their baby news in May this year in an Instagram post.

Suki’s pregnancy announcement was also taken away from her thanks to tabloid rumours. She was pictured on a hike in Los Angeles with her partner Robert Pattinson, sporting a small bump underneath her clothes. After the pictures were published, her Instagram was filled with intrusive questions asking her about the pregnancy, which she announced publicly in November 2023. The same went for Sienna Miller, who faced pregnancy rumours in July last year when she was photographed in St. Tropez wearing a strapless gown over her swimsuit, which highlighted a growing stomach.

All this feels worryingly familiar. Back in the noughties, headlines about baby bumps (whether real or not) were a mainstay of the US tabloids. Those who grew up around this time will be familiar with the taglines ‘Tum Thing to tell us?’ and ‘Is she? Isn’t she?’ While the past few years has seen outlets shy away from reporting about celebrity pregnancies, the Lady Gaga rumours raise the question of whether we are heading back in that direction.

One celebrity who fought back against this speculation was Jennifer Aniston. One headline in the US at the time read ‘It’s official for Jen: 3 months pregnant’ while another showed her on the beach with an arrow pointing to her tummy that read ‘First bump pics – world exclusive.’ The speculation got so much that Jen wrote a piece in the Huffington Post titled ‘For The Record, I Am Not Pregnant. What I Am Is Fed Up.’

In the article, she explained that she had ‘grown tired’ of the problematic narratives around women’s bodies, writing ‘I’m not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe. 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.”’

As Jen and Lady Gaga's cases show, there are plenty of instances when this speculation is just downright wrong. It is totally normal for a non-pregnant belly to be rounded, and attaching pregnancy rumours to these pictures opens the door for women’s bodies to be objectified and discussed publicly.

Even when celebrities do turn out to be pregnant, such reporting takes away from one of the most private moments of their lives. Any mother will know that the first twelve weeks of pregnancy are incredibly delicate due to the heightened risk of miscarriage, and even after that, some women may not plan to share their news with the world. For some reason, however, they are expected to. After Rihanna gave birth to her second child without announcing it, many outlets reported that she had ‘secretly’ had a baby, as if she owed us some kind of explanation. Headlines like this take away women's agency to announce pregnancy in their own time – or, if they prefer to, not at all.

For women who have a history of miscarriages, this reporting can feel particularly intrusive. In 2022, Chrissy Teigen expressed how difficult it was being consistently asked about pregnancy despite having shared that she had suffered a miscarriage in 2020. ‘I know it’s said with excited, good intentions, [but] it just kind of sucks to hear because I am the opposite of pregnant,’ she said on Instagram.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress in how pregnancy is represented in the celeb world. Over the past year, Rihanna and Sienna have rewritten the rulebook of maternity style, proudly displaying their bumps in bold outfits that are a far cry from those on the front covers two decades ago. And the media speculation has certainly quietened down since the 2010s (who can forget the moment that Beyoncé was rumoured to be sporting a prosthetic belly amid claims that it ‘appeared to deflate’ on an Australian talk show?)

But despite this, the problematic narrative that celebrities owe us a public explanation about their changing bodies remains. Pregnant or not, it’s never ok to speculate. Let’s not take away the small moment of privacy that women in the spotlight are entitled to.

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