Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pregnant Celebs and Their In-Demand Spawn

It certainly doesn't take a "trendwatcher" to recognize the current and hot, hot, hot trend of celebrities under 25, like, getting pregnant. Jessica Alba, Katie Holmes, Ashlee (oh Ashlee), Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, Lily Allen, and, of course, little Jamie Lynn are all included in this category, and the media's obsession with, and breathless scrutiny of, this subject is seemingly endless. We are subject to the constant examining of every female celebrities' stomach and whether or not there is a visible "baby bump" -possibly the grossest phrase in the English language. (Which is great, because these ladies aren't really examined closely enough to see if they've recently gained or lost weight.)

Magazines pay millions for photos of the newborns because everyone is desperate to see how exactly Joel Madden's DNA will be transferred onto a baby's face, even though babies all look the same (like little blobs, duh.) At the same time, we get glowing reports of pregnancy from the stars, gushing about how it's the most important thing a woman can do and how complete they all feel.

This fascination with motherhood is pretty disturbing for a few reasons. The first is, all these women are really, really young. While it's certainly possible to be good mother at 22, it's not very far into adulthood to make that kind of commitment. However, young female celebrities have always been coded as older than they are, from posing for photoshoots in their underwear at fifteen to being called out as "sluts" when they're less-than-perfect. In Jamie Lynn's case, the media initially pegged her as a slut, but now since she's keeping the baby (wtf) they're back to reporting what a good little mommy she's going to be. As soon as a female is past puberty and in the public eye, she may as well be 35, nevermind the fact that she's a child herself.

What is most disturbing, though, is the simple fact that it is, indeed, a trend. Female stars historically have not gotten pregnant at a young age because they put their careers first; now, being pregant seems to be a calculated career move of its own. It's like a hot new role for them to play, guaranteeing immediate attention and admiration. How many times have we heard that Jennifer Aniston is a cold bitch for not wanting a family and that's why Brad was driven into Angelina's (surprisingly) fertile arms? A lot! For the "bad" celebrity girl (Richie, Aguilera) it makes them appear softer, more wholesome. Now when they pose naked for a magazine cover, it's in a dreamy, Earth mothery pose, surrounded by their little cherubs or proudly displaying their pregnant stomach. For the "good" stars, like Alba, it's cool to be pregnant too because obvs being pregnant is every good girl's dream, just like wearing a white veil on your wedding day and giving up your career to have a child.

It's hard work being pregnant, and harder work raising a kid, but, more than anything, the media seems enchanted with the ethereal and stereotypically feminine concept of motherhood and how great it is, not its possible drawbacks, multiple challenges, and ultimate reality. Raising a child lasts far longer than being pregnant and the pre-toddler years, but to the media, it's just babies, babies, babies! These women (well, some of them) should be famous for their talents or skills or wearing assless chaps in a mud-filled boxing ring, not because they're fulfilling God's master plan.

Lastly, everyone famous names their kids, like, Wheatley or Savannah 3 or Lula Mae or something retarded like that. All these kids are going to grow up to have coke problems and be in lame LA bands anyway, y'all.


Simone said...

I completely agree with you. Also, of course, there is absolutely no media coverage of female celebrities who DON'T want to have children. I imagine some of them have no desire to be pregnant and have children- but that's not what the media would have you believe.

M said...

i doubt all the celebrities who are pregnant right now even want to have children.

teach people not books said...

i love your analyses! i'm a friend of kate's--saw your blog via her new one.

i really think you are spot-on. i can't stand that whole jennifer "maniston" perspective--god forbid someone would want to live a life contrary to the new (and yet completely archaic) norms the media--and a million other institutions--have established. perhaps it's easier to view/portray women who don't rush into motherhood as cold and distant instead of responsible and personally fulfilled. otherwise, you know, the ignorant public might start questioning the merits of having a kid before one's actually old enough to make serious life decisions. nah... that will never sell any magazines. silly me!

on another level, in these young celebs' minds, i wonder if there's some backwards internalization gone terribly wrong of the idea that women can "have it all." maybe there's a shift in what this actually means--whereas i hear that and interpret it to mean that women can and should pursue the paths that bring them joy, regardless of whether those paths fit into traditional, domestic roles, it seems that some young women see the "women having it all" catchphrase as representing some sort of pressure to fulfill every role perfectly--from the duties of a mother and (sometimes) wife to the responsiblities of a major motion picture star. and if they can't fulfill the public's (or the record executives', or the directors' and producers') ideas regarding what a women should look and act like in each of these roles, they are no longer marketable. hmm...? this would bring into question what it means to be "marketable" in society right now.

or maybe they don't give a shit; maybe they just want that $500,000 for the baby picture cover shoot. certainly an an equally likely possibility.

Gaby said...

I saw some thing a while back in, like, US Weekly that was like "Kooy Things The Stars Say: Could They Be Any More Wacko and Not Down to Earth?", and one of the quotes was Eva Mendes being like, "I think if I had a biological clock, it would have kicked in by now." Whoa! Wacky shack! Anyway, your great post reminded me of that.

M said...

teach people, i agree that the concept of "having it all" is one that is set up to fail. it's supposed to be like, if you can't handle all these things- having a high-profile job yet spending tons of time with your kid, (and we can't forget maintaning your femininity) etc. etc., then it proves that women just can't handle doing both, and "having it all" is a feminist lie. whereas really "having it all" SHOULD mean the same thing it means for men, which generally means to be personally (and financially) fulfilled.

gaby, i saw a small section about "stars who didn't want bumps" or something. it was like katherine heigl, eva longoria, eva mendes. at least there are a few famous women who can be sarcastic about it.

lozzy said...

oh noes, i just blogged about the same thing yesterday. i didnt rip you off, i sweaaaar i only just read this now :(

M said...

that's okay! i can see our blogs cover common ground and i have probably inadvertantly wrote about something you have written about. except the soccer (football) thing. that is harder for me to grasp.

Anonymous said...

Eva Mendes is like, what, 24? Even she doesn't know that your uterus doesn't fall out when you turn 30.