Kylie Jenner managed to keep one of the biggest secrets in recent pop culture off the radar. Many speculated, but she went full Houdini, disappearing from social media and the general public.
Inadvertently, the 21-year-old make-up mogul seemed to have confirmed a trend of celebrities hiding their pregnancies and then making birth announcements on social media or magazine covers. They are bucking the usual big celebrity pregnancy announcement and rather choosing to share when the baby is born.
It is something women have been doing for years, says Zoe Msutwana, founder of Guide to Celebrity, a celeb and branding analysis website. “The huge rise of social media and its influence on pop culture has just amplified it by bringing it to our attention.
"Celebrities like Kerry Washington, Eva Mendes, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Kournikova and Nicole Kidman are known to have hidden pregnancies from the public,” she said. It’s certainly an endearing trait, wanting to keep those precious first few months to yourself, but keeping up appearances for nine long months can get to even the toughest moms-to-be.
Jenner said she wanted to “enjoy the whole experience” without worrying about outside pressure. It’s something Msutwana says is a factor when celebs choose to go public or private with their pregnancies.
“Being in the entertainment industry comes with immense pressure to project a perfect image. When women experience pregnancy, they are mostly not in control over the changes their bodies experience. Taking away the scrutiny that comes with a public pregnancy is often the route most expectant women choose as a means of minimising stress,” she said.
Jenner finally broke her silence when she told her fans of Stormi’s birth two days after she was welcomed into the world, taking to Instagram to apologise for keeping them “in the dark” for so long.
Known as Ms Manche to her more than 135K Instagram followers, fashion entrepreneur Tshego Manche took a similar approach when announcing the birth of her son, Noah, earlier this year. She broke the news on her IG account by posting a picture of herself on the October issue of Mamas & Papas magazine, looking radiant in her pregnancy glow.
Admitting that she had fully embraced the journey into motherhood, Manche said: “I really enjoyed it to the last day, from the moment I found out, to when he started moving, to dancing to keeping fit – moments when my partner and I would hold my belly when he moved.”
Isidingo star Khabonina Qubeka also dropped a bombshell earlier this month when she revealed that she gave birth to a baby girl on October 2. Talking exclusively to The Sowetan, she said that because she was deeply rooted in her culture, privacy only made sense to her. “I wouldn’t say I kept it a secret, per se, but I just didn’t feel the need to announce it.”
But there was also the chance that her pregnancy was not going to be written into her show, which is another reason some celebrities keep their pregnancies to themselves. Msutwana says: “One of the longest-running traditions in TV is not writing pregnancies into a show as one simply couldn’t be pregnant on TV. “The entertainment industry does not favour women as much as other industries do. Falling pregnant could result in loss of work.”
There’s also the allure of keeping the moment to yourself. It’s something most moms can relate to – all you want to do is to be left alone. And living their lives in the public eye makes it even harder for celebrity moms-to-be because privacy is a luxury they cannot afford.
As fans, we feel that we need to own a piece of those whom we hold in high esteem. We want to share their highs and their lows, and yes, even their pregnancy announcements.
Additional reporting by Buhle Mbonambi