Kathy Hilton is trying to support her daughter Paris on her pregnancy journey, and even though her heart is in the right place, the way that she’s approaching the subject is hurtful and damaging for women who struggle with infertility.
The heiress recently told E! News of Paris and her husband Carter Reum’s alleged struggle to conceive, “It breaks my heart because I know she is trying and trying and I always say, ‘Just relax.’ So many people, they struggle and it doesn’t just happen like that.”
Kathy is clearly trying to be supportive, but there are a few problems with what she’s said. First of all, “just relax” is laughably unhelpful advice for anyone trying to get pregnant. In an article by The Cut, the issue is put plainly: “The problem, though, is that stress alone is unlikely to be a sole cause of infertility; if you have a condition that affects your ability to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy, no amount of de-stressing will cure it.”
The article goes on to share that as far back as the 5th century B.C., “a woman’s psychological state [was tied] to her reproductive capabilities,” and that it was widely believed that “hysteria” could cause a woman to become “sterile.” The infuriatingly inaccurate idea is still deeply ingrained in the patriarchal-oriented mind of society, and Kathy Hilton’s comments about her daughter are proof of that.
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, director of member engagement at Progyny, a New York-based fertility benefits company, compared the notion of a person trying to conceive and being told to relax to a person with diabetes trying to wish away their medical condition. She said in an interview, “It’s like telling a diabetic that has a high sugar level, ‘Don’t worry about it, just relax. Go on vacation and your sugar levels and your insulin will be fixed.’ It’s illogical.” She went on to explain that infertility is almost always attributed to a medical condition that impacts the ability to conceive, which has “nothing to do with mental state and meditation.” It seems so comically obvious, but alas, here we are breaking it down once again.
The other thing that’s concerning about Kathy’s statement to E! is that it’s simply not her place to share such sensitive information — not even as her daughter’s mother. If Paris wants to share her journey publicly, that’s her call and no one else’s. In fact, what Kathy said isn’t even true, according to Paris. When asked about her mother’s claims by TMZ, the newlywed said she has no idea where her mom got that idea and shared that she and Reum have embryos “stocked up” and ready to go when the time is right.
The entertainment mogul also took to her Instagram Stories to clarify the situation, writing, “I’m getting tons of messages of people asking me when I’m having a baby. The truth is my husband and I wanted to enjoy our first year of marriage together as a couple and we were always planning on starting a family in 2023.”
Paris continued, “IVF is always a journey for everyone but we’re so fortunate that we have lots of healthy embryos ready and waiting to be part of our Cutesy Crew! As everyone knows, I have an extremely busy work and travel schedule but nothing gets me more excited than becoming a mom in 2023!” While, again, her mom’s heart was in the right place, she opened up a massive can of worms for Paris, who felt she had to address the onslaught of commentary and questions about Kathy’s infertility claims, and that’s not okay.
Public speculation about a person’s efforts to conceive massively penetrates boundaries of respect and privacy, and Paris isn’t the only one who is having to address claims about her journey to motherhood. In her cover story with Allure, Jennifer Aniston opened up about the pain and fatigue she’s experienced over the years — and is still experiencing — regarding public commentary on her ability and desire to become a mother.
“All the years and years and years of speculation… It was really hard,” she shared. “I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it. I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”
She continued, “[The] narrative [was] that I was just selfish. I just cared about my career. And God forbid a woman is successful and doesn’t have a child. And the reason my husband left me, why we broke up and ended our marriage, was because I wouldn’t give him a kid. It was absolute lies. I don’t have anything to hide at this point.”
Aniston explained her frustration with the vitriol of the rumor mill and how wildly inappropriate it is to make casual conversation about a woman’s (in)fertility, saying, “Hence that op-ed I wrote [for The Huffington Post in 2016]. I was like, ‘I’ve just got to write this because it’s so maddening and I’m not superhuman to the point where I can’t let it penetrate and hurt.’”
The op-ed she’s referring to is an iconic scolding she gave the media and the public at large for their obsession with her being (or not being) pregnant, along with the general objectification and dissection of women in society at large. Aniston wrote, “For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism,’ the ‘First Amendment’ and ‘celebrity news.’”
She continued, “This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”
She wrapped up her essay, which you should definitely read in full, by writing, “I may become a mother some day, and since I’m laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know. But I’m not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe.”
Let’s hone in on “I may become a mother some day, and since I’m laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know.” That last bit, “I will be the first to let you know,” is the most simple, poignant way to get the message across for Paris, Aniston, and every other woman who is incessantly questioned about having a baby. They will be the first to share the news with the world if it happens and they feel comfortable sharing such private information. Until then, respectfully keep your mouth shut about a womb that isn’t yours.
These celebs were quick to shut down pregnancy speculation.
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