On this season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kylie Jenner’s MIA status on her family’s reality show has been just as titillating as Kourtney Kardashian’s alcohol-fuelled “MILFs Gone Wild” birthday vacation or the very shady Kardashian Kristmas wars. But, unlike those other storylines, Kylie’s vanishing act is so interesting precisely because of what we don’t see. At home, we’re forced to ask, “Has Kylie only disappeared because she’s expecting?” Although rumours of the 20-year-old’s pregnancy began months ago in September 2017, KUWTK season 14 has still avoided the speculation, and usually avoided showing Kylie as a result.
All of that changed with Sunday night’s “Baby One More Time,” which gave viewers their first prolonged, unobstructed full-length look at Kylie all season. While fans on Twitter claim the directing decision all but confirms Kris Jenner’s youngest daughter is with child, it seems the famous family is saying something else: “We know you’re wondering what’s going on in this young woman’s uterus, and we’re not going to comment on it until we’re damn well ready.” In fact, the moment feels like a major middle finger to celebrity culture’s obsession with identifying and publicising “baby bumps.”
We get our big, unexpected Kylie scene towards the end of the episode, when Kylie and big sister Khloé Kardashian, who herself is also believed to be pregnant, visit Kim Kardashian’s home. Kylie is sporting a tracksuit, so her entire body is covered. Yet, we can still actually see her body, as it’s not hidden behind tables or crowds of family members, as it has traditionally been this past season. Kylie walks up stairs, down hallways, and in front of her sisters in full view of the camera. No one acts like anything is out of the ordinary because it’s not — Kylie is simply a normal human woman, out in the world.
As you watch the relatively lengthy scene, it’s at least 10 times as long as any other time Kylie has popped up in KUWTK season 14, it’s important to remember the Kardashians want you to see it. Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney Kardashian are all executive producers, as is momager-in-chief Kris. As we’ve seen with a previous episode like “The Cleveland Show,” where Kendall Jenner experiences the aftermath of that Pepsi commercial, these four are fiercely protective of the Jenner sisters. So, if you’re looking at a full-length image of a maybe-pregnant Kylie during KUWTK, it’s because they put it there. It’s not like the KarJenners couldn’t have removed, or edited, the scene in post production as baby rumours ramp up in real time.
That’s why it’s equally important to think about about what they’re putting in front of fans and then promptly staying completely silent about. Hypothetically, the Kylie scene could have been paired with a number of sisterly conversations, from talks about her rumoured relationship with Travis Scott to, you know, whether she has any pregnancies to announce in that moment. It’s not like “Baby One More Time” is afraid of either of those subject matters, as Khloé pressures Kourtney to spill on new boyfriend Younes Bendjima in this exact instalment. On top of that, Kim details her surrogacy journey throughout the episode. It would be very Kardashians to throw even more baby news into the for-television madness.
Yet, they don’t. The media-savvy clan is recognising fans’ thirst for Kylie-related information, satiating it to a point… just until they get to the real matter at hand. The Kardashians know viewers are dying to find out whether the lip kit mogul is pregnant; the reality stars just don’t believe it’s their job to tell them yet — and the famous family is right. The culture around celebrity pregnancies has quickly morphed into a bizarre, near-fetishisation of women with baby bumps. A sweet pregnancy announcement is always exciting for fans, but there’s now a cottage industry dedicated to when celebrity women “debut” their bumps in public, “flaunt” them in bikinis, and “show them off” while merely going about their days. We can pretend this is all about body positivity, but, in truth this is all a new way of objectifying women’s bodies. KUWTK’s treatment of a possibly-pregnant Kylie seems to directly buck this kind of breathless coverage.
When you think about “Baby” as whole, it becomes pretty clear many plot points deal with questioning just how much the KarJenner sisters need to “expose” themselves for their show. Khloé has that aforementioned screaming match with Kourtney, as the latter refuses to even say her new boyfriend’s name in front of the cameras. “You can’t yell at me for how I want to handle it and don’t,” the oldest Kardashian sister says in defence of her protective behaviour, admitting this is her first relationship after over a decade of on-and-off drama with Scott Disick.
Similarly, Kim reveals her surrogate has been implanted with the embryo of the third prospective Kimye baby. Yet, she explains she doesn’t want people to ever “find” the woman. Her reasoning? “I almost got into the craziest car accident when I was pregnant because the paparazzi was chasing me,” she says, stressing how dangerous life could become for her surrogate.
At this point, is anyone surprised KUWTK is avoiding commenting on Kylie’s pregnancy one way or another?
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