Yesterday was a coup for the city of Philadelphia and anyone with a vested interest in the Kardashian/Jenner family — the Eagles won the Superbowl, and Kylie Jenner finally made an official announcement about her rumoured pregnancy. Jenner had a baby girl! And, somewhat miraculously, we truly didn't know that much about it until she wanted us to. Despite being the most visible family in America, the Kardashians kept a tight lid on Jenner's baby, and it's still not clear how they pulled it off.
"I understand you're used to me bringing you along on all my journeys," Jenner said in a statement released via Instagram. "My pregnancy was one I chose not to do in front of the world."
She added later, "I appreciate my friends and especially my family for helping me make this special moment as private as we could."
Just how did that happen, though? Part of the Kardashian konundrum is that it's never been clear who holds the power here: the family or the press. The press loves to cover the Kardashians, but only because they've worked so tirelessly to be coverable. At this point, the ouroboros is so tightly wound that the Kardashians and the press might as well be one and the same. Jenner said it herself: We're so used to participating in the great Kardashian narrative. It couldn't have been easy to keep us out for so long.
For example, based on her pregnancy announcement video, Jenner held a baby shower in mid-November. As per E!, the shower had at least 30 attendees. That's 30 people with intimate knowledge of Jenner's top-secret pregnancy, and not a single one shared a photo — we have to assume that at this party, Jenner politely requested that no one share photos from the occasion. Or, better yet, she could have made her guests sign non-disclosure agreements. (Asked once how she keeps private things private, Taylor Swift told Rolling Stone, "You know what I've found works even better than an NDA? Looking someone in the eye and saying, 'Please don't tell anyone about this.'")
But there are a lot of people that Jenner would have to
plead with get NDA signatures from. There might have been attendants — chefs, waiters, or drink servers who must have all been present at the baby shower. Or what about all the A-list guests at Kris Jenner's annual Christmas party? Everyone who went kept mum afterwards. And, of course, there are a lot of people adjacent to a pregnancy journey. There are doctors, Lamaze instructors, doulas, and cashiers at CVS, where Jenner was allegedly spotted weeks before giving birth. The video shows Jenner went to doctor's appointments, flew on private planes, and spent some time in what looks like the Arizona desert. In each of these situations, there were people who could have spilled the beans. And yet, no one shared photos, or gave a tell-all interview.
The Kardashians have kept things under wraps before, of course. Because they shoot their show months before it airs, they have to be careful not to spoil their own episodes. When Kanye West proposed to Kim Kardashian in 2013, Kris Jenner imposed a "social media lockdown" on the family to keep the surprise — for the viewers — under embargo.
Kim also had a baby shower in 2017, flaunting the extravagant party on Snapchat — the theme was "tea for three" — and Khloé Kardashian shared a rumour-stirring photo from the party. (Fans speculated that the baby shower was also for Khloé, given that the younger sister was also rumoured to be pregnant.) This baby shower was a public baby shower, i.e. the Kardashians blasted it across their channels, alerting the presses that something very important was happening.
This blast didn't get sent out during Jenner's baby shower, which meant the family sent out a more private message asking that no social media be posted from the event, probably similar to what Jenner did for West's epic proposal.
How else do you keep something quiet? Well, you bring money into the equation. You can pay for a doctor to come to your home, as it appears Jenner did in the latter half of her pregnancy. (During one of the sonograms featured in the video, Jenner is clearly at home, having summoned a doctor to come to her residence.) Jenner also allegedly took Lamaze classes online. Money affords privacy, as the residents of gated communities can surely tell you. The only trouble with this information lockdown is that it feels as if Jenner violated an unspoken contract.
Our relationship to what I like to call the American Royal family is complicated. It feels intimate, so much so that it's easy to forget who made the first move. The Kardashians invited us into their home, and they've done the inviting ever since. Because their image these days is largely social media-controlled, they don't even have to answer to the press all that much. If Jenner wants to keep a pregnancy private for nine months, she can. All she has to do is shut the door. Of course, there's only so many times she can shut us out — it's very telling that Jenner apologised for keeping us at arm's length. You can ghost us, Kylie, but only if you come crawling back with an intimate 12-minute video.
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