Yes, she has a baby bump. But no, she isn't pregnant.
Actress Jennifer Garner has won the hearts of women everywhere after she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this week, gracefully acknowledging that giving birth to three children has left her with a faintly rounded belly.
The Alias star, who was promoting her new movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, told DeGeneres she gets congratulated all the time, as tabloids point to her abdomen as evidence she is pregnant.
"I thought, 'What is going on?' " she said. "So I asked around and apparently I have a baby bump. And I'm here to tell you that I do – I do have a baby bump."
Quieting the peals of excitement and applause from the audience, she quickly added: "I am not pregnant. But I've had three kids and there is a bump. From now on, ladies, I will have a bump. … And let's all just settle in and get used to it. It's not going anywhere."
At a time when mothers are lauded for the speed at which they snap back to their pre-pregnancy bodies, and when the faintest shadow around the midsection of female celebrities is assumed to be a sign of pregnancy, Garner's frank acceptance of her bump – though hardly discernible – is refreshing.
"Nice to see a celebrity embracing the normal things that happen to a woman[']s body after having babies," one commenter wrote on Yahoo's Shine website. "It's decieving [sic] and gives an unreachable standard when we, normal women, see these celebs that have babies and are in flaunting their post-baby bods 3 weeks after giving birth."
Added another: "I have 3 of my own children, my 'baby' being 21. Doesn't matter what I've tried to do but the Mommy Tummy stays.... And good for Jennifer for normalizing the whole thing. After all, it's one of the most normal things out there."
Indeed, the lasting physical signs of childbirth, including scars and stretch marks, are not only normal, but common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a condition called adenomyosis, or a thickening of the uterus, may also affect around 60 per cent of women, producing a bump-like effect as it can cause the uterus to be up to two or three times its normal size. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, the cause of the condition is unknown, though adenomyosis usually occurs in women over the age of 30, and is rare amongst women who have not had a full-term pregnancy. In many cases, it produces no symptoms.
What's wonderful about Garner's reaction is she didn't express anger or frustration about the pregnancy rumours – even though she would've had every right to be upset about others making assumptions about her body. Instead, the star provided women with a dignified way of shutting down unwelcome, though sometimes well-meaning, pregnancy presumptions. As she demonstrated, there's no need to be apologetic or embarrassed.
Embrace the bump, everyone. And move on.