Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebrity Motherhood

In honor of the newborn Royal Baby, I give you a rant on celebrity motherhood.

I love a good, vapid celebrity gossip magazine as well as the next well-educated person who really should be reading The New Yorker.  And probably the Bible.  I somehow got a subscription to US Weekly a couple years ago.  No really, honestly, I have no idea how it began arriving at my doorstep every week.  I'm thinking it was an anonymous gift from some really really good friend who knows me well enough to know that I would LOVE an US Weekly subscription but am too ashamed to get one for myself or look a friend in the eye if I know they got me one for fear they would see gratitude lurking there.  In any case, we get two magazines in our household every Friday, US Weekly and The Economist.  I think you can guess which one I read cover to cover.

There is nothing the celeb journalists love more than a reproducing celebrity.  So many newsworthy items come out of such a blessed event--wedding news (since celeb babies almost ALWAYS precede celeb weddings; I mean, how do you know if you want to marry someone until you've had a child with them, duh), fat news (enough said), weird celeb behavior (naming their children after vegetables, giving birth wrapped in seaweed, giving birth surrounded by a gospel-Kabbalah-Scientology choir, giving birth without an epidural), celeb self-righteousness (I only name my children after organic vegetables; my children are not allowed to watch TV unless I am the star; my children are only allowed to speak Vulcan at home because it is the only language without paternalistic overtones; I take my children to strip clubs so they won't be ashamed of their bodies), consumer news (did you know you can buy cloth diapers that miraculously wash themselves, with the help of a nanny sold separately?), and of course actual babies, many of them cute, although some surprisingly not, given the looks of their parents, assuming those looks are the kind that can be passed down genetically vice surgically.

Now, my heart really goes out to pregnant celebrities.  When I turned into an acne-covered, overall-wearing, drama-dispensing Orca, at least there was no one around photographing me.  There were those who tried and got their lives threatened and/or cameras sat upon.  But unflattering photos of a massively pregnant Kim Kardashian have peppered my US Weekly every single week.  While I will argue that it is partly her own fault for letting Kanye pick out her maternity clothes and being generally annoying, I am still sympathetic.  She--and for that matter myself and Jessica Simpson, who also looked like those weird round Japanese stuffed animals while pregnant--desperately needs her waist to look thin, and the waist is of course the first thing to go.  Without our waists, all three of us just look like giant loaves of bread.  The two of them have the added misfortune of having breasts bigger than Smart Cars.  They look like planets with two moons orbiting.  I mainly looked like a block of cement or a massive twinkie.  In any case, I feel for them.

But then they have their revenge when the baby is born, and the celeb journalists are only too happy to oblige, mainly because the new celebrity mom is holed up somewhere and the journalists have nothing to report.  Every celebrity new mom story has the exact same elements, details that are no doubt carefully fed to the waiting public while the celeb mom hibernates in her home  "She is a natural mom."  "She feels like she's grown another heart." "This is the happiest time of her life."  "Breastfeeding is going well, and she loves it." "She doesn't mind not sleeping as long as she can stare at the baby all night."  "[Celebrity man who knocked her up] is just the best dad, and the birth of little Cauliflower Arugula has brought them so close they might even get married now."  "The weight is just melting off, even though she is not allowed to exercise yet, but she's just dying to."  "The baby is the most beautiful baby ever born and its poop smells like incense."  Cut to real mom either vomiting or crying into her US Weekly, which, incidentally, is the only thing she has the mental energy to read.

What I would love to see is a celebrity mom tell the ugly truth, assuming she even knows what it looks like without a fleet of nannies and spa services at her beckon call.  Having my first child was literally the most traumatic experience of my life.  I don't know what a "natural mom" even is, since based on my experience, the most natural reaction to motherhood is to collapse into a sobbing pile of hormonal insanity and scheme ways to flee to another country because you don't know how you are going to raise an actual human being.  I actually did feel like I grew another heart, probably because that is what I literally did--along with another brain, two legs, two arms and a bunch of other stuff--and man, was that a whole lot of work.  Kevin was a fine new dad, but he was almost as clueless and traumatized as me.  To his credit, he was not supportive of my fugitive scheme.  Having our children has pretty much brutally stabbed our marriage multiple times in their heart and left it bleeding on the sidewalk. OK I'm exaggerating.  A little bit.  And breastfeeding...well you know my feelings about that.  The UN needs to ban that crap.

Brooke Shields probably came closest to telling the truth when she spoke out about postpartum depression, and I commend her.  However, her condition was discussed as if it were some horrible anomaly in an otherwise joyous and beautiful experience.  In my experience, at least mild postpartum depression is kind of another day at the park with small children (I don't mean to minimize hers, which sounded severe).  Now don't get me wrong, motherhood is a beautiful experience in that it is a meaningful experience and is worth the pain.  I love my kids, and I never want to live without them, except on occasional child-free vacations during which I will deliriously live without them.  But in the moment--and certainly in the initial moments, days, weeks, years--motherhood is as ugly as a hairless cat--which is what some new moms actually look like, thank God I never went bald like that, but I hear it is a thing--and can feel as pointless too.  I mean, seriously, why would you ever get a hairless cat?

Somehow I doubt Duchess Kate is going to be much of a truth-teller here (she gained so little weight, I'm not entirely convinced she was actually pregnant).  I guarantee when my US Weekly arrives on Friday, it will be full of quotes from palace sources declaring what a natural, joyous, fat-melting, happily breastfeeding mom Kate is.

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