Perusing the interwebz this morning, I counted ten stories about female celebs and their interest in, path to, or ability to look lovely while making babies.
Like any responsible, educated citizen, I look to entertainment media to tell me what to think about on any given day. And today entertainment media is telling me to think the following about some celeb moms:
- That maybe a pregnant Kourtney Kardashian shouldn’t have colored her hair.
- That Carrie Underwood is not yet ready to have a baby with her husband.
- That Rachel Dratch accidentally had a baby with her sorta-boyfriend and wrote a book about it.
- That Kate Middleton is ready to have a baby.
- That Kate Middleton might be too skinny to have a baby.
- That Jessica Simpson looks like she’s having a baby.
- That Hillary Duff just had a darling baby boy.
- That Jessica Alba took her baby to get some ice cream.
- That Jessica Simpson’s baby will probably look like a cross between Simpson and her husband (I’m not making that up – real “news” story).
- That Octomom will appear on NBC’s Today and say Octomom things.
I did glimpse one story about male celebs and baby mania: Levi Johnston’s post-Palin girlfriend is having another one. So that’s…something.
But anyhoo: we’ve known for awhile that celeb moms are the new It girls. From baby bump watches to baby weight losses, pregnancy is the new black. And I just don’t get it.
Yeah, the miracle of life. The beauty of motherhood. I dig it, as the kids say. I’m a mom myself and I still can’t get over how frightening, exhilirating, and amazing it is to be mothering my very own little girl.
BUT no one throws me a parade for being a mom, nor should they. Yes, they should respect my choices just as they would any person they pass on the street. Yes, they should keep their mouths shut if they think I’m doing wrong by being a working mom. And, okay, YES I wouldn’t mind a little fistbump now and then for–oh I don’t know–splitting in two to reveal a human. BUT all I really expect as a mom is what I expected before I had kids: consideration and benign neglect.
But I don’t think that’s at the center of our fascination with celeb mommies. Nor do I think it’s because everybody loves a pregnant woman (or a darling, bouncy baby). I think we love celeb moms because we’re all pretty sexist.
Yes. I think we love celeb mommies because we see them spending time with their kids in the middle of the day. We love them because they seem to be on permanent vacation with their brood: ice cream outings, log flume rides, shopping at Whole Foods. We love them because they make it look easy: lovely clothes, lovely kids, Jake Gyllenhaal under them.
We love them because we see only snapshots of their parenting lives. It just feels like we’re privy to Jessica Alba’s every move. We don’t see late nights, location shoots, nannies, daily tantrums, or filthy faces…at least we don’t see it that often. In short, we don’t see celeb moms–even those with demanding professional schedules–as working moms. And even in 2012, we like that.
What’s intriguing is that we probably see about half as many pics of celebrity dads with their kids…and that still makes for a metric ton of pictures. But did you ever notice the caption? They always imply that the picture is something of a novelty: Dad’s day out with the kids! Dad pulling diaper duty! Dad Does Disney!
The tone, at least, is that celeb dads are taking time out of their busy dimpling schedule to parent. While celeb moms are always portrayed as doing their most important (true) and only (not true) job.
“But, Molly,” you’re saying, “Not so! You invoked Octomom as a celeb mommy and we all know she needs to get a job!”
That’s because nestled in our love of celebrity mamahood is a nasty classist undertone. As Slate columnist Emily Shire so astutely points out, we have an inequitable approach to thinking about moms in the public eye. If said moms are affluent or upwardly mobile we assume, at least, good intentions. If the mothers in question are overweight and lower middle class, we love to hate ‘em and think they should get a job and build a college fund. As Shire says “…a Toddlers and Tiaras mother’s participation in supposedly ‘trashy’ culture makes her a beastly parent, while Dara-Lynn Weiss is a merely controversial or micromanaging one.”
You remember Dara-Lynn Weiss, right? The mom with the key to making your seven-year-old lose a few pounds and feel terrible about herself (those keys are being really cruel when your kids has a snack at school)? Dara-Lynn Weiss with the Vogue gig and the book deal? We’re sort of okay with her even [if she is giving her child some serious fat shame]. And if Dara-Lynn looked like Jessica Alba, we would totally love to watch her shop at Gap Kids.