Family Matters

Jessica Simpson’s Pregnancy Weight: Why Everyone Has an Opinion

Simpson is being alternately vilified and championed for seemingly gaining more than the recommended 35 lbs. during pregnancy. Since when is a big pregnant woman news?

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Randy Holmes / ABC / Getty Images

Jessica Simpson, whose first child is due later this month, is an “absolute porker.” Don’t get mad at me; I didn’t say it — ob/gyn Tara A. Solomon did, to Slate journalist Torie Bosch.

Solomon’s not the only one maligning the pop singer and fashion diva. Simpson’s very voluptuous silhouette is generating tons of commentary, both positive and negative. There’s plenty of disgust, from the likes of the View‘s Joy Behar, who flat-out said “the girl is fat.” But Simpson’s also getting you-go-girl props from the likes of fellow celebrity mom Tori Spelling, who’s urging detractors to “lay off,” and Sarah Palin, who was so outraged she told Today’s Matt Lauer she “would have wanted to punch [naysayers] in the neck.” Ouch.

(MOREHow Mom’s Weight Before Pregnancy Can Affect a Baby’s Brain)

From a medical perspective, there is valid concern about a woman gaining too much weight. Women of normal weight prior to getting pregnant are advised to put on between 25 to 35 pounds. Gaining more — or being overweight pre-pregnancy — can make moms more prone to developing gestational diabetes and more apt to give birth to heavier babies, who can be harder to deliver. Of course, it’s not public knowledge how much weight Simpson has gained or how much of her expansion is actually due to overindulging in buttered Pop Tarts; the star has said she’s retaining amniotic fluid.

What rankles is that in our looks-are-everything society, Simpson’s critics are pretending to be worried about her health when they’re in fact fretting about her figure. Dr. Solomon told Slate: “No one should ever look like Jessica Simpson. She’s an absolute porker… I cannot believe how heavy she is.”

Simpson’s curves have long been tabloid fodder. She was gaining weight, then losing it, then being criticized for popping out of her Daisy Dukes. In actuality, Simpson’s refusal to be bullied into nibbling on protein bars and frozen grapes alone is pretty refreshing, particularly among the glitterati. She’s large and loving it and doesn’t seem to care what others think. I too gained 50 pounds with each of my three kids, by eating healthy and indulging in a few too many chocolate brownies. I knew I was eating more than I should, but I was hungry! Being pregnant was liberating, not an excuse to let myself go but an opportunity to eat peanut butter straight from the jar without feeling guilty. Pregnant women are supposed to be big, and I knew that I would slim down after the fact, just as Simpson will if she’s so inclined.

(MOREIs There an Obesity Tipping Point in Infancy?)

If there’s a single truth in the glut of commentary that Jezebel is referring to as “the hunger shames,” it’s that Simpson’s weight is her business. “Nine months on, nine months off” is the slogan pregnant women often hear about how long it will take them to slough the baby weight. In truth, Simpson will likely drop her excess pounds much quicker — if she cares to. Celebrities are renowned for losing their baby bulk seemingly before they even leave the hospital, with the help of teams of trainers and dietitians. If Simpson partakes in the same “low-fat fare” that actress-cum-natural-foods-guru Bethenny Frankel consumed after she gave birth in May 2010 — a muffin for breakfast (aren’t muffins typically dense with oil?) and BBQ chicken and half a sweet potato for dinner — she can kiss 35 pounds goodbye in two brief months! Frankel was featured in a photo link entitled “Jaw-dropping post-baby bodies” that was ironically inserted in the same Us Weekly post that featured Spelling and Palin telling Simpson critics to get lost.

Unfortunately, the only thing getting lost here seems to be Simpson’s right to consult with her doctor then eat whatever — and gain whatever — she chooses.