Jaime King has been some level of famous ever since she was 14 years old. First came the modelling career (in the '90s, "James King" mugged for Abercrombie + Fitch, walked the Chanel runway, graced the pages of Glamour, and had pretty much every gig in between); then the transition to acting, with roles in everything from films like Pearl Harbor and Sin City to a starring part in the CW's Hart of Dixie (she even appeared in and co-wrote Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" music video). But last week, the 35-year-old invited a different kind of attention when she posted a topless
Instagram of her body captioned with a very powerful quote:
"My body. My growing baby, open for comments. Plain as day. I, like every other woman, bracing for your judgments. This is who I am. And I love me in every flaw and curve or flat or thin area. And I love you as well in every form that your body takes."
King captioned her image My body. My growing baby, open for comments, "because that's all people do all day is comment," she told ELLE.com. "They just say whatever the fuck they want to say, and they don't actually think that it's going hurt me," King says, alluding to people criticising her for looking too thin while pregnant. She doesn't believe anyone should be body shaming her or anyone else, overweight or underweight, pregnant or not. And while her Instagram was removed ("It was deleted by my child by accident. He completely locked me out of my computer, like it literally took the entire day to get back in"), she stands by its message. Here, the actress talks about the statement, the dangers of cyberbullying, and why our views on pregnancy need to change.
You said your Instagram was the release of feelings that had been building up in you for a long time. When did they start?
At the Met's Costume Institute Gala with Kim Kardashian when she was pregnant [in 2013]. She was with Kanye, but she wasn't fully accepted by the fashion industry. Riccardo Tisci was very brave in dressing her.
Anna Wintour had invited her to the Met ball, which is a big deal and a big step up for her. But when she was pregnant [there], I remember going back in my hotel room and crying for like five hours because I kept seeing all these things come up online, all of these horrible pictures and GIFs. I couldn't stop crying because here was this beautiful glowing pregnant woman who is probably so excited to be attending the Met ball for the first time with the man that she loved, and she had this beautiful dress made for her that was very daring and very gorgeous, and she has a beautiful growing child inside of her, and yet everybody bashed her and called her a whale or said she looked like a couch or drapes.
It was so stunning to me that people thought that that was okay—not only okay but they condoned it. They would retweet it, they would talk about it, they would put it on the Internet, they would call her a whale on the cover of a magazine. They would not even think about the way it would affect her mental health and the child's health. It emotionally tapped into a place for me because I was newly pregnant [with my first child]. What kind of world are we living in now where this is okay, where our bodies are being essentially sold to the highest bidder regarding their comments and that we are just put up on a cross to be persecuted?
Nobody's standing up to say this is wrong. This isn't right. [Pregnancy] is a very sacred and important moment in someone's life. [But] the fact is that nobody should be body shamed. Nobody should be torn apart for being too thin or too fat or too this or too that. There are many people that are overweight that genetically have issues. We don't know what conditions people grew up in. People that are naturally thin like I am, I have always been this way. I've always eaten the way that I eat. I love hamburgers; I love cheeseburgers. If you look at the photographs of me, the only time that you'll see like an influx in my weight was in my mid-20s, and that was when I had endometriosis and PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome] but didn't know that I had it. I had major thyroid issues and major issues with my oestrogen. I remember at one point my agent called me saying 'Oh, they want to offer you this movie, but they want to know why you got fat,' and it was so horrifying because I was running every day for two hours a day, I was eating completely clean. I didn't eat sugar for three years; I didn't know what was wrong with me. My body was in so much physical pain, and it wasn't until I found the right doctor that explained to me what was going on, and I had the right care that everything got back to normal again.
And yet your and other people's bodies are still torn apart on social media.
We're talking about kids being bullied online and committing suicide. Some of my best friends go through some really rough things on social media—not just my friends but also family members. [But] reading Huffington Post, seeing these kids that couldn't take it and them taking their own lives over what was being said, I was done. I was done with it. And I didn't want to be done with it in a way where I said 'Okay, I'm going to give up, and I'm going to shut myself down off of social media and I'm going to pass it over to some team to write fake tweets for me on my behalf and not really engage.' What I'm going to do is stand up and be brave even though it's terribly vulnerable.
And thus the topless Instagram.
It's not fun posting a picture of yourself essentially nude because if you look at my Instagram, I don't do that. I don't post like sexy selfies, that's not what I'm known for. To me, what is sexy is just being authentic. So I had a friend, I just took my clothes off. I had plain black random underwear on, and I said take a front picture, and I turned around, and I took a back picture. I didn't even look at the pictures. I didn't alter them. I just put it up there and put my message. And I had a bruise on my stomach from my amniocentesis—you know, I haven't done a lot of exercise because I have to be gentle with this pregnancy. It's not everything is perfectly toned. I'm [not] sucking in or posing.
My whole life has been about presenting an image of perfection because that's what sells in our industry. But as I become more and more of a woman and [think about] what I really put out there in the world, I don't want to put out perfection anymore because that's not attainable. That's not the truth. I wanted to really empower other woman in knowing that hey, yeah, you know what? I am very thin but I'm pregnant and I feel beautiful and I feel grateful that I have a child growing inside of me and I love every little piece of me because if I don't love myself, who's going to love myself? And I also want other women to know that I don't care what you look like. I love you too—the way that I felt about Kim, even though I don't even know her.
That's absolutely incredible. Let's talk a bit about being pregnant as a celebrity. It seems like there is such a pressure to lose weight after you have your baby. Do you feel it at all?
I've never thought about it. For me, being pregnant is such a miracle in the first place with the struggles I've had getting pregnant. The only thing I care about is having a happy and healthy child. I don't really subscribe to this whole, 'Let's see how fast you can get back your pre-baby body!' Like that whole thing is so laughable to me. It's a joke that's the focus on women now. It's just the same thing with judging women when they're pregnant. "Like oh my god, she's skinny, is her baby okay? There must be something wrong with her! Oh my god I can't believe so and so gained so much weight during their pregnancy! Like can you believe how big she is?" Like, those kind of comments that they have online and in magazines about celebrities are crazy to me. When you've just had a baby, your only focus should be the health and wellbeing of your child, bonding with your child and enjoying every single moment of that. I think the more and more that publications and people stop brutalising and making them think they have to look a certain way, the more women will be able to take that innate pressure off that they don't have the strength to naturally.
You posted an Instagram recently revealing Taylor Swift as your baby's godmother. What was behind that?
There was no thought behind it at all other than that I always knew she was going to be the godmother if I had another baby. It's because she's incredibly thoughtful. Choosing a godmother is a very sacred and important thing in our family. They're going to be guiding your child, and they're responsible for them if something was to ever happen. We try and choose people who we know would raise our child the way that we would raise our child and her thoughtfulness, her kindness, her authenticity—the way that she's generous with her family, with her friends, with her fans—is so powerful to me. She's so uninhibited in her giving—the presents she gives to her fans, she wraps every single one, she paints the stuff. It's all her. It's just beyond. She's so clear with what it is that she wants to do yet at the same time she leaves herself so vulnerable. It is really powerful to me. That's why I feel like she's going to be the perfect godmother.
How did she react when you told her you wanted to make her the godmother of your child?
We were hanging out on the couch and I was like, "Hey, would ever want to be a godmother?" And she was like, "Uh, yes!" And she cried and, you know, all the fun things that best friends do.
So how did the Instagram announcement come about?
We were just taking those pictures because we hadn't seen each other in a couple weeks, and she wanted to see my belly. So we took those pictures. Then we're like, "Oh my god, that would be a really cute way to tell people she's the godmother. You know?" But literally we did it within two minutes. It's all just really in the moment.
From the editors of ELLE.com
Photos above: Instagram and Getting Images