Tori Spelling is not pregnant, despite her controversial April Fool’s Day joke that suggested otherwise. The prank, she explained, was on the media.
On Thursday, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star shared a photo of herself cradling her bare stomach to Instagram. “No. 6,” she captioned her post. Spelling, 47, and husband Dean McDermott, 54, have five children: Liam, 14, Stella, 12, Hattie, 9, Finn, 8, and Beau, 4, and Spelling is a stepmom to McDermott’s son, 22, from a previous marriage. Spelling has suggested that she’s not opposed to having more children — “I would be open to one more,” she told People in 2017 — but she’s feared re-experiencing placenta previa, as she did while carrying Finn.
Spelling’s followers, including former 902010 star Kathleen Robertson, were excited, but others didn’t believe the news. “This has to be an April Fools’s joke????” wrote Flipping Out designer Jeff Lewis. “There are so many women out there who wish they could have just one child. You have been blessed with 5, please have compassion and empathy” and “I hope this isn’t an April fools joke because that’s in such poor taste for those of us who have lost babies” were common refrains in the comments. One user admonished, “Pregnancy is not a practical joke!”
The actress remained silent as her post was liked more than 96,000 times and fans pressed for details. However, on Friday, Spelling confessed that the pregnancy announcement was fake and proved a point about female body shaming.
“Every week, magazine and press outlets ask if I am pregnant. To set the record straight, I am not,” she wrote on Instagram. “The fact is, after my fifth baby, my body didn’t bounce back like it had before. That’s when the constant questions of ‘yet another’ pregnancy first began. Unless you’re in the public eye, it is hard to understand what it feels like to be body shamed so publicly. I feel like I have to constantly defend my body when instead, I should be honoring it for the miracle of life it gave me five times.”
Spelling continued, “I know that pregnancy is an extreme blessing. And I would never intentionally poke fun at losing a child or not being able to carry one. I myself have miscarried. My post was simply to turn the tables for once on the press. They constantly create wild and often hurtful stories about me, my body, and my family. For those of you that are hurt, I hear you. I love you. I welcome your stories and I will try my best to support you. please accept this as a virtual hug to my entire community. T xoxo.”
Many fans quickly forgave. “Unfortunately nobody has a sense of humor anymore,” someone wrote. “Ignore the haters,” agreed another. “People need to ask themselves why they are always so triggered and full of rage?” asked a user.
Others pushed back writing, “So many people around the world struggle to get pregnant, something that should never be joked about!”, “Seriously? You could’ve ‘punished’ the media a different way….” and “I guess I expected/hoped for better from Tori Spelling.”
“It’s just not a joke,” someone wrote.
Pregnancy as an April Fools’s Day joke doesn’t age well. In 2019, Justin Bieber apologized for posting photos of an ultrasound and of wife Hailey Baldwin lying down in a doctor’s office while revealing her stomach. “There’s always gonna be people offended, there’s also people who don’t take jokes very well, I am a prankster and it was APRIL FOOLS,” the Sorry singer wrote on Instagram. “I didn’t at all mean to be insensitive to people who can’t have children…But I will apologize anyway and take responsibility and say sorry to people who were offended…”
And in 2018, former Bachelor star Arie Luyendyk Jr. apologized after tweeting that wife Lauren Burnham (who is currently pregnant with twins), was falsely expecting. “I do have sympathy for women struggling from infertility,” he tweeted. “My April Fools prank was in no way meant to offend women who struggle with that. I apologize if you were effected personally by my post.”
According to Jennifer Meyers, a certified nurse-midwife and Mayo Clinic spokesperson, there’s a growing awareness that pregnancy jokes are sensitive. “It’s important to keep in mind that 1 in 8 women experience infertility and about 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage,” she tells Yahoo Life. “So joking about pregnancy may result in hurting someone’s feelings — it’s impossible to know by looking at a woman that she’s been trying to conceive for five years or has experienced three miscarriages.”
But an apology, like the one from Spelling, is a learning experience. “We should take ownership of the content we publish online and also take apologies at face value,” says Meyers. “This is how people learn.” And if a social media post stings particularly hard, pay attention to those feelings. “It could be a sign that you’re not done healing yet.”