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Unrepentant Artfag

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So, there is a rumor going around the internets that Sara Palin's latest baby isn't really hers- that it was her teenage daughter's baby, and Ms. Palin engineered a huge coverup in order to hide her daughter's pregnancy.

The evidence, such as it is, is all circumstantial. Ms. Palin certainly did not "look pregnant" when she announced her pregnancy at 7 months, but the pictures that are being provided as "evidence" that she was never pregnant are ambiguous at best- in most of them her belly is in deep shadow, or covered by bulky black clothing. What makes me most skeptical, and even a little bit angry, are the pictures of her teenaged daughter, Bristol, that are being presented as "evidence" of Bristol's supposed pregnancy.

In the pictures presented at dailykos, Bristol has a potbelly. The author of the article, "ArcXIX" says that:

Bristol is pregnant in these pictures. She is not carrying belly fat, which grows outwardly wide, and does not become dome-shaped. That's because fat is generally evenly distributed around the abdomen and a fetus is not. Bristol's chest is sticking out, a normal body reaction when sucking in stomach muscles.


Here's my response: ArcXIX is an idiot. It is perfectly normal for teenaged girls (and women of all ages) to have pot bellies. In fact, most women do not have perfectly flat stomachs at any time in their lives; models in magazines are airbrushed. Playboy, for example, routinely airbrushes their photos to give all women in the magazine the appearance of a flat stomach.

The idea that belly fat never forms a "dome shape" is easily dismissed by taking a look at millions of women all over this country. Not every woman with a little pot belly is pregnant, and many many women, of all ages, have pot bellies. So do men, for that matter. Are they pregnant? Different people carry fat differently, based on a host of variables. My old friend Heather, for example, had a flat stomach even when she was at her heaviest, whereas I have never had a flat stomach, not even when I was under 120.

And of course Bristol is sucking in her stomach muscles- she's a teenaged girl having her picture taken.

Another point of evidence against Bristol's pregnancy is that one picture is presented as being from late 2007, while the other is presented as being from March 2008. Bristol is exactly the same size in both photos. Her belly has not grown at all. The same standard must be applied to daughter as to mother: if it's unrealistic to think that Sarah Palin wouldn't have grown huge by the end of her pregnancy, why is it reasonable to allege that Bristol would have maintained her same figure throughout an alleged pregnancy? And that she would continue to wear tight clothing throughout? I thought she was supposed to be hiding her pregnancy.

ArcXIX should not only check out some basic biology (and maybe look at some women's bodies in their natural states, rather than in porn) but he also needs to further examine statistics about pregnancy and Down syndrome before alleging that Down syndrome is more common in teenaged mothers than in mothers over 40.

Here's why this makes me angry: ArcXIX is criticizing the body of a teenaged girl. He's holding her up to an unrealistic and unfair standard of "beauty", and declaring that if she doesn't meet that standard, she must be pregnant. Teenaged girls have a hard enough time today, without shit like this. I, personally, remember what it was like to be a teenaged girl. I felt very self-conscious about my body and its every "flaw". I thought there was something wrong with me, because I didn't look like women I saw in magazines or films. ArcXIX, and all the people using pictures of Bristol to support this theory, are subjecting her to unrealistic and unfair standards, and that is a very very mean thing to do to a teenaged girl. Isn't this girl already under enough pressure?

This reminds me of when Bill Clinton was running for the first time, and Republican media made comments about how "ugly" Chelsea Clinton was (I think she was 12 at the time.) Leaving aside the fact that she was a pretty damn cute kid, not ugly at all, what kind of asshole stoops to that level? What kind of adult needs to call a teenager fat or ugly in order to feel morally superior? And make no mistake, moral superiority is what ArcXIX's articles smack of. This behavior was shitty when the Republicans did it to Chelsea, and it's shitty when ArcXIX and his ilk do it to Bristol.

Other participants at dailykos should nip this shit in the bud.

dude it is so totally her granddaughter

Since it's a boy, that would be diff :)

well stated, and I don't think the current photographic evidence necessarily proves this one way or the other -- but I agree, the statement that belly fat grows "wide and not out" is just not true.

I agree. Regardless of what we think about Sarah Palin, we need to be careful about the messages being said about Bristol Palin. Especially if the rumor is wrong, because then, she's just a normal kid. Personally, I do see a minor bit of weight difference between the two pictures I saw, but hey, maybe she put on a little weight, maybe she was bloated from her period, neither of which are something a teenage girl (or any woman) should be mocked for. Whichever Palin was seven months pregnant, neither one was showing.

I was really angry when the press raked Chelsea Clinton over the coals. She was 12! Show me anyone's pictures when they are that age, and I will show you someone who looks a bit gawky. Kids' bodies from about 11-14 are in a constant state of flux. They generally behave awkwardly and self-consciously because their bodies are changing so quickly that they are clumsy and don't have time to get comfortable in their own skin. Even kids that age who are "attractive" by the media's standards generally slouch, shuffle & mumble at that age--they are uncomfortable with themselves and are trying to hide.

Yeesh! Puberty is a difficult enough experience without having to do in on the nightly news.

Edited at 2008-09-01 05:07 pm (UTC)

I completely agree about leaving Bristol alone. One of the reasons I despise McCain is the horrible joke he told at a press dinner making fun of Chelsea Clinton's appearance back when she was 13-ish. (Google Chelsea Clinton Janet Reno McCain joke if anyone hasn't heard of it.) If there is something to all of this, I think that it could be relevant because her pregnancy has been cited as a reason for her political desirability. However, speculation about very vague pictures helps no one, and just puts a young girl, who has NOT opted into media scrutiny, in an uncomfortable position.

She's being exposed to so much garbage, and it will only get worse as the months go by.

I do have to admit my prejudice against her name, though, especially the sound of "Bristol" in combination with "Palin". It makes me think of the name of a white-bread subdivision, the sort of place that's mostly condos, where half the lots are empty, all the trees have been cut down, and the landscaping hasn't been finished.

Suppressing that stupid thought, though, I wonder how long it will be before Bristol is allowed to have a normal life, if ever. Chelsea has made a good life for herself. People who saw her campaigning for her mother this year said that she was an excellent asset--calm, controlled, and a really good speaker. She says that she has no desire to go into politics, though a lot of people have urged her to do so.