Kim Kardashian Has the Right Idea With Her New Maternity Shapewear Collection
I never thought I would be defending the business decisions of the reality star, but compression leggings have been a godsend during my pregnancy and anyone who thinks Skims maternity line is supposed to be slimming is missing the point.
Kim Kardashian's shapewear collection, Skims, is under fire, and this is far from the first time. Last year she was accused of cultural appropriation when she named the line Kimono, claiming it to be a riff on her own name. While she worked to save face and rebrand, I sat back and rolled my eyes. Everything that is attached to the Kardashian name is calculated and vetted, so to pretend they missed the name's association to the traditional Japanese dress, the kimono, is just embarrassing and I had no empathy for her.
Now the brand is receiving backlash again for its new maternity collection. The line, which drops on Wednesday, September 16, includes "solutionwear" tights, sculpting shorts, a nursing sculpting bra, sculpting high waist briefs, and a sculpting bodysuit. Those against the collection are criticizing pregnancy shapewear because they want to normalize the pregnant body and all its crazy curves, stretch marks, and growths. I love that messaging (let's also normalize breastfeeding, while we're at it!), but this time I'm (shockingly) siding with Kim—I do value the need for it. You can pre-order from the collection, which ranges in price from $34 to $68 and seems to be skin tone-inclusive.
I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant and surviving in compression leggings to manage the aches and pains of my pregnancy weight gain. I'm told I'm "all belly," which means my stomach muscles are solely supporting every new ounce of baby, amniotic fluid, and yes, all the bagels that are now a part of my body. I didn't have a six-pack before this pregnancy and I honestly question if I even have abs at all now, so I am very much here for any extra support my clothes want to provide me. Kim's "solutionwear" might as well be part of that marketplace.
Today, Kim made a strong statement in defense of her new collection in her Instagram story and on Twitter: "If you haven't been pregnant before you may not know the struggle of what it's like carrying all of this weight the way I did along with millions of strong women, @skims maternity line is not to slim but to support. The belly part doesn't slim your belly...It provides support to help with the uncomfortable weight being carried in your stomach which affects your lower back..." I was sitting here nodding along as I read.
This is not to say that I don't understand and appreciate the argument against the collection. Shapewear is notoriously body-shaming—targeting women who are pressured to believe that cellulite-free thighs and roll-free waists are feminine ideals. I'm a huge supporter of body positivity, cheering on activists like Jameela Jamil whose I Weigh campaign and community is a much-needed conversation starter around celebrating all bodies. But I'll admit I wore a pair of Spanx under my crepe wedding gown (that fabric is not forgiving), so I am also all for women deciding they want to smooth out certain areas if it helps them feel their best. But regardless of my personal stance on the wrinkles, rolls, jiggles, and creases on our bodies that carry each of us through our day, a maternity shapewear line is actually about none of that.
I'll add the backlash against this collection to the growing list of ways society tries to ignore what pregnancy is really like! Remember that FridaMom commercial that was pulled from the Oscars because it was just too honest about postpartum bleeding? Yeah, we need to be talking about the struggles and not just sharing those cute bump pics and post-labor glamour shots.
I'd love to give any non-pregnant person a 30-pound weight to carry strapped to their stomach and tell them to have a nice stroll around the block. Easy, right? I'd make sure they are taking the walk in a normal oversized T-shirt and low-rise shorts, of course. Can't dare to give them any support to carry that extra load. Instead of jumping to attack a product, we should consider asking the people it's actually meant for what they think. I, for one, think the Skims maternity line could be very helpful. Chrissy Tiegen, who recently announced her third pregnancy, shared a post on Instagram seeming to agree.
Hey expectant and new moms, if any of you want to enter the market right now and launch another product that you wish you had that could help me through pregnancy and the postpartum period, I would also gladly cheer you on! We need all the support (physical and otherwise) we could get during these 40 weeks.
Melissa Bykofsky is the deputy editor of Parents.com. She is currently pregnant with her first child. You can follow her at @melissa_bykofsky.