The XX Factor

Jessica Simpson’s Pregnancy Was Not “Epic” or “Never-Ending”

Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy was a completely normal length. 

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Congratulations to Jessica Simpson and her fiance Eric Johnson. This morning, Simpson gave birth today to a baby girl named Maxwell Drew Johnson.

It was a bit of a rough go for Simpson. In late September 2011, she was the subject of endless tabloid speculation about whether she had a bun in the oven. About a month later, on Halloween 2011, she announced her pregnancy on Twitter by saying she was going to be a “mummy,” but that didn’t end the Simpson stomach watch. She then was treated to all sorts of criticism about gaining too much weight.

The final insult: Gossip columnists have facetiously moaned for months about the duration of her pregnancy. Jezebel called it “epic.” The Associated Press referred to it as “seemingly endless.” Chelsea Handler tweeted, “How has jessica simpson still not given birth to this baby? I’m getting frightened.” A few days ago, MSNBC’s estimated that she had been pregnant for “approximately 37 months.” Mommyish, where you’d think they’d be a little more sensitive to pregnant women, said of Simpson, “um, hi, world’s longest pregnancy.”

Perhaps it only seems “endless” because gossip writers have been speculating about Simpson being pregnant practically since she married Nick Lachey in 2002. Or because the same writers pressured her into announcing she was with child while she was still in the early days of her pregnancy. Let’s say that she was pregnant for 40 or 41 weeks—pretty normal for a first-time mother. Then in late September, when the tabloids were going crazy, she had only just finished her second month. Most women, especially celebrities, wait until after the first trimester has finished before making the news public. But Simpson didn’t have that option—so you gossip writers can blame yourselves if you think that she spent too long baking her baby to full term.

The discussion also seems to be a side route into shaming her for her weight gain, as in, “She’s so huge, she must have been pregnant for 11 months!”

But perhaps the best explanation for this utterly bizarre framing: the lack of creativity in gossip writing. The “endless Simpson pregnancy” narrative made no sense, but everyone latched onto it, because it was sort of maybe a little funny the first time.