When I heard Kim Kardashian was pregnant, I cringed. Not because I thought Kim would be a bad mother, or because I thought it was a publicity stunt, or because I was one of the aluminum foil-wearing Twitterers who believed it was all an Illuminati conspiracy. I don't know that much about her, really; I've never watched her shows, and aside from a little resentment at having to blog about her every so often, I don't have strong feelings about her either way.
No, I cringed because I knew that the pregnancy of one of the world's most watched, talked-about, obsessed-over, photographed, and Googled women would bring out the worst of its attitudes and prejudices about mothers and women in general.
To be fair, people have been talking sexist nonsense about Kim Kardashian and her sisters for years. But as any mom will tell you, having a baby on the way adds a whole new level of awful scrutiny to your everyday life. When you're a Kardashian, that gets multiplied by about a million blogs and media outlets sensationalizing your every move. Don't get me wrong; the Kardashians sought out out the fame that's made them millions, and they've brought this attention, welcome or not, on themselves. But that doesn't give anybody the right to spew woman-hating comments at them, because they make the rest of us women feel like shit.
The Kardashians' latest reality show, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, debuts Sunday. So before that whole circus begins, here are a few ground rules for discussing the Kardashians without giving up your feminist card.
What not to say: "OMG look at how fat Kim Kardashian is!"
Come on, people. You know this is not okay. It's not okay to say about any pregnant woman, because duh, she's going to gain some weight, geez, lay off, there's an ever-expanding human parasite in there for crissakes. And it's not okay to say about any non-pregnant woman either, because that kind of judgmental bullshit just makes everyone hate themselves a little bit more. You know it leads to unhealthy body images and eating disorders and kindergarteners on diets. So let's not say it about Kourtney (or Khloe, for that matter) either.
Say instead: "That dress is not doing Kim Kardashian any favors." Don't hate the body type, hate the stylist.
What not to say: "Kim Kardashian shouldn't be doing X; that's bad for the baby."
Being in charge of a fetus is super-stressful. There are all these things you have to avoid, and other things you should be doing more, and the rules change every couple of years, and you still have to go to work and live your life while navigating it all. I'm stressed out just writing that sentence.
Now add to that the constant stream of advice you get from family, friends, and strangers. Some of that advice comes from a place of love and is based on science. But a lot of it is just a thinly veiled excuse to pass judgment, using this thing they heard from their Aunt Linda who saw it on Dr. Oz when he was on Oprah, like, eight years ago. This is not acceptable behavior. Unless you are her doctor, you are not qualified to diagnose Kim Kardashian.
Say instead: Nothing. Girl's a bajillionaire; even if you don't trust her, you can probably rest assured that her handlers have it covered and move on with your life.
What not to say: "Kim Kardashian's doing something embarrassing. What if her children see this?"
Have you ever done something you wouldn't want your future kids to know about? Are there photos of you doing that thing? Are they on Facebook? Then guess what: Your children are going to see them. Kim Kardashian's kid is going to see all the stuff she's ever done, too, because that's the way the world works now.
But does that mean you shouldn't have done that thing? Not necessarily. You've probably been drunk on film dozens of times, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have gone out and had a life, for crissakes. Women don't have to act like mothers all the time, because motherhood is not our only job. Don't be such a prude.
Say instead: "Kim Kardashian's doing something embarrassing." Leave the kids out of it.
What not to say: "No wonder she got knocked up. Slut."
Yeah, girl had a sex tape. But slut-shaming Kim Kardashian isn't just mean-spirited; it's boring and outdated. It's been done. Besides, remember earlier when you were worried about Kimye's child finding out about her life before motherhood? That kid's going to read all your nasty blog comments, too.
Say instead: "Isn't it interesting how society's sexual morals have shifted so quickly in the last several decades so that this woman was able to turn her sex tape notoriety into a hugely successful career in the non-porn entertainment industry, particularly when she's not that entertaining in the first place? Wait, why am I watching this again?"
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.