(WASHINGTON POST) - Over the past decade, the Kardashian-Jenner family has made millions by keeping people inexplicably fascinated by every detail of their lives, from their reality television empire to social media - and the interest exponentially grows when there's a pregnancy involved.
The trend continued in September when rumours surfaced that Kylie Jenner, 20, who recently usurped Kim Kardashian West as the most frequently Googled member of the family, was "surprised but so happy" to be expecting with her boyfriend, rapper Travis Scott. (By "rumours", we mean anonymous sources discussing the news to such Kardashian-friendly tabloids as TMZ and People.) Then a few days later, another announcement: Khloe Kardashian, 33, also was reportedly pregnant.
Khloe's announcement played out in typical Kardashian fashion, as she let the tabloids speculate about her "baby bump" while fans dissected every Instagram photo and Snapchat video for clues. There was no real confirmation until mid-December, when she posted a picture of her boyfriend, NBA star Tristan Thompson, cradling her growing stomach. "We are having a baby!" Khloe wrote to her 71 million Instagram followers. "I know we've been keeping this quiet but we wanted to enjoy this between our family and close friends as long as we could privately."
Naturally, fans assumed that Kylie would be next and made a logical assumption: The family would confirm the news on Christmas Day.
Since Dec 1, they've been posting snippets from their lavish annual Christmas card photo shoot for a "25 days of Christmas" bit. It only made sense that official news of Kylie's pregnancy would be the grand finale.
Then Kim posted the final photo on Monday evening. There was matriarch Kris Jenner; Kourtney Kardashian and her brood; Kim and the kids; Kendall Jenner...and no Kylie to be found. Anywhere. Not even behind the tree.
The Internet was not pleased. Sample comments: "kimberly where is pregnant kylie? don't play." "i was sitting in my bed waiting to see the bump and this is what we get?" "this would've been the perfect marketing ploy. so why didn't they use it? where is kylie and that bump?" "biggest disappointment of 2017."
Although the family members are masters at using every aspect of their lives for publicity, speculation about Kylie has been dragging on more than usual. As a result, the conspiracy theories started. Fans have been scouring the Kardashian-Jenner Snapchats for clues, or straining for a glimpse of the increasingly absent Kylie during Keeping Up With The Kardashian scenes this season. No bump has been spotted yet, and Kylie has been posting only close-up pictures of her face on social media.
So maybe she's not really pregnant! Maybe she's Kim and Kanye West's surrogate! (The couple are expecting their third child via surrogate next year.) The options are endless.
One logical answer: The 14th season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians continues in January with new episodes. The long-awaited news would, of course, be an excellent way to attract viewers before Kylie's due date, reportedly in February.
Meanwhile, viewers will just have to rely on the word of magazines like Us Weekly, which provides details about Kylie "prepping" for the new arrival, or People, which informed readers that although Kylie didn't appear in any photos from her mother's annual Christmas Eve party in Los Angeles, she was there. (Kylie also briefly appeared on Khloe's Snapchat confirming this.) "Kylie looked great but didn't really draw any attention to her baby bump," a "source" told People. "She still acts like she wants to keep her pregnancy private."