Enough With The Pregnancy Surveillance — Why We Should All Stop Trying To Guess If Hailey Bieber Is Pregnant

She's the latest celebrity subject to the long social tradition of people trying to guess who’s pregnant. But it's massively outdated, potentially really hurtful, and it’s time for it to stop.

Justin and Hailey Bieber

by Rose Stokes |

Ever since I met my partner, I can no longer have a night off booze in peace if I hang out with certain people. “Ooooh are you preggo?” they ask with a knowing wink. The same went when I said we were moving into a house with more room. “More room for… more people?” they’d ask, followed by more winks. Ditto when I recently cancelled plans citing extreme tiredness and nausea. Nudge, nudge, wink, WINK!

It’s an experience a lot of other women will be used to, I’m sure, living in society when pregnancy surveillance is a socially acceptable game that people like to play with one another. It extends to those who do eventually announce pregnancies, “I knew it!” people will say, to illustrate that though you may have decided to keep your intensely private news…. private, the people around you have been watching you closely, trying to pre-empt any news you may like to share.

If you’re a celebrity, this intense speculation and surveillance will increase ten thousandfold — just ask Jennifer Anniston, Kylie Jenner, or Hailey Bieber, who is the latest woman in the public eye whose womb — and its occupancy — is under close public scrutiny. Why? Because Justin Bieber touched her stomach while posing for pictures at the Met Gala. Yes, really. TikTok sleuths have taken the tender gesture to mean she absolutely MUST be pregnant.

Justin and Hailey Bieber
©Getty Images

It was the same wild speculation for Kylie Jenner, who was subject to pregnancy speculation because she checks notes had a different nail colour in a couple of different posts on Instagram. The theory initially floated by TikTok user @carolinecaresalot, came after she had only low-key celebrations for her recent birthday, when she turned 24 on August 10th.

Fans later speculated that given that in the picture she shared of herself on birthday, the model’s nails were pink, but lime green in pictures of her party, this could only mean one thing! She was using old pictures to throw her followers off the scent, because actually she is pregnant. The star seemingly responded by publishing a series of bikini pictures to her Instagram, with her sister Khloe making reference in the comments to Kylie’s abs.

Of course, the pregnancy speculation later turned out to be true - as it could well with Hailey - but that's not the point.

Regardless of whether a celebrity is pregnant, there’s a wider issue here and it’s this: if she is pregnant and she doesn’t want the general public to know about it yet for whatever reason, then that’s completely reasonable and people should respect her wishes. And also, in 2021 isn’t it just painfully boring by now to spend our lives speculating about a woman’s fertility and whether or not she might be pregnant, when we could… just wait until she decides she wants to discuss it, if she ever does?

Kylie-jenner-pregnancy-speculation 2

Because let’s consider all the options here. We know that miscarriages happen in an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies, usually within the first trimester, which is precisely why traditionally many people have tended not to share their news until after they hit the 12-week mark. Imagine, how it might feel if you spent your first trimester doing everything right while batting off nosy questions around your body to then find out that the pregnancy wasn’t viable for whatever reason. Do any of the people that take such pleasure in saying “I knew it!” ever stop to think about how much pressure their well meaning sleuthing might put on expectant mothers, or those who are not able later able to announce their pregnancies to the world, simply because they didn’t make it to the second trimester? Or what if you don’t want to be a mother — already a decision that society tends to look down upon — must you still put up with the endless questioning about your decisions to drink alcohol or not? Or for those who aren’t able to conceive and are, completely reasonably, not that interested in making that knowledge public. It’s not just thoughtless, but it can be really psychologically damaging for those on the receiving end. It also applies yet more pressure still to the lives of those who happen to be born with wombs — and it implies that for all that we’ve progressed as a society, our value always boils down to our ability or willingness to further the human race.

For what it’s worth, I’m an open book, and tend to tackle this speculation head on when it arises, telling people exactly what my thoughts are on this subject and my hopes for the future, but many wouldn’t feel comfortable being so candid. So why should we force them to be by being so persistent in our speculation about their bodies?

It wasn’t cool in the 1700s and it ain’t cool now, so do us all a favour and if you see a woman of child-rearing age choosing a water instead of a beer — if you must say anything at all — then congratulate her on being so abstemious or comment on the weather, and move the hell along.

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