We Need To Get Rid Of “Baby Bump Watch” and Women Editors Can Help
As we embrace the era of enlightened feminism, there is the hope for continued progression, even if the White version of awareness never aligns with the specific trajectory of women of color.
But even as we move forward in our pursuits to rewrite the stringent requirements of an over-worked rulebook, we can’t ignore the blatant hypocrisy that still hovers with diseased authority, as certain practices that threaten the dignity of womanhood, continue to permeate through the halls of journalism.
For as long as we can recall, women celebrities that make the A-list, have been tormented with the annoyingly invasive headlines that either announce fake pregnancies, or add million dollar shots under the even more humiliating slot — that’s dedicated to paying close attention to the supposed burgeoning belly — until further notice.
I was never a fan of actress Jennifer Aniston, back when Friends was still a thing, and her marriage to Brad Pitt dominated the tabloid circuit, but there’s no denying the empathy that overpowers each time she was callously reduced to a status that was applied for the benefit of increased circulation.
It’s hard to imagine the humiliation that accompanies the realization of how you’re being stalked by those who are paid to monitor how long it will take for you to prove the validity of those unrelenting rumors.
Cameron Diaz, who has since kept a very low profile since she announced her retirement — married musician Benji Madden back in 2015, and at the time she was almost forty-three. And as always, months after her wedding, the gossip blogs began the file for “baby watch.”
The speculation continued for almost three years, and intensified in the summer of 2018, when her pregnancy was basically confirmed by semi-reputable publications.
Diaz was never expecting a baby. And the rumors and ill-advised confirmations, were all part of the righteously debilitating tradition of playing with fire. Not to mention the astounding emotional toll it takes on the famous victims, who have to endure the pressure of a very personal issue in full view of the public.
As a woman of a certain age, I’ve matured with some of these women, and my reality of hormonal disorders, that are serious enough to permanently wreck havoc on your reproductive capabilities, have given me a revised perspective on this terrible habit of reducing women with high-profile careers to baby-making machines — whether they’re up for it or not.
There’s also the sensitivity that’s attached to the assumption that every woman is conveniently fertile, regardless of age and medical history.
It’s no secret that the older we get, the more challenging it is to conceive on command, and that makes aggressively surveilling “baby bumps” a harrowing ordeal for celebs who aren’t immune to the physical limitations that befall us — regardless of our station in life.
Maybe Cameron Diaz isn’t interested in breeding children, or perhaps she desperately wants to start a family, but it’s taking a lot longer than she anticipated, which wouldn’t be unusual for a woman in her mid-forties.
But most importantly, the decision to start a family is a private endeavor, that shouldn’t be scrutinized or analyzed for the entertainment of strangers and clickable income for mediocre editorial staff.
Another unfortunate victim of the “baby watch”machine, is actress and fashion maven Gabrielle Union, who is wed to super athlete, Dwyane Wade, and serves as step-mom to his three sons. The Wades are quite expressive of their cute relationship on social media platforms, and as adorable as they are, it does leave the door wide open for rampant speculation about future babies.
The rumors have persisted since the couple glamorously tied the knot back in 2014, and it didn’t stop until Union divulged her years-long fertility struggle in her book, “We’re Going To Need More Wine,” where she details the painful journey of trying to expand her family.
The heartbreaking process has resulted in several miscarriages, and the failed attempts at IVF, that tortured her body and spirit for three years.
It’s no surprise that Union is ultra-sensitive about publicly addressing a topic that stirs up emotions that shouldn’t be exposed for the benefit of gawkers. She expresses how much she “hates reporters who speculate about a baby bump and ask questions about her family’s future.”
There’s also the other side of the coin, that’s just as offensive, and this was demonstrated through the ridiculousness that trapped the most idolized woman on the planet, Beyonce, who was forced to tolerate the audacity of an unfathomable narrative that aimed to discredit her visibly blossoming template.
While the Formation singer was trying to make the most of the moments leading to the birth of her first child, after tragically suffering a previous miscarriage, she was assaulted by conspiracy theories that seemed to suggested her pregnancy was fake. And even worse, was the insult of theorizing that a woman who gives her all to fans without fail — would willingly dupe the public into thinking that she’s carrying a baby, when she actually paid a mysterious surrogate to do all the hard work.
As ludicrous as those rumors were — more than enough folks remarkably bought the nonsense and helped it go viral.
The Carters managed to get through the months of avid anticipation, that resulted in the arrival of their eldest daughter, but it was still infuriating to witness how the well-being of an expectant mother can be compromised by the saturation of fake news.
And now the latest snafu involves the newly married Duchess of Sussex, who has now become the prime target of “baby bump watch,” and the source is none other than CafeMom, a publication that is presumably overseen by women editors, who are weirdly enabling this ongoing harassment.
It starts with the list of reasons why the Duchess could be discreetly carrying a bundle of joy, as the focus on her abrupt change in hairstyle, interesting wardrobe choices that hide the midsection, and all the other outlandish signals that really don’t add up to very much — except for a major headache for the newest addition to the British monarchy.
If Meghan Markle is indeed with child, wouldn’t it be wise for her to keep her condition under wraps until it’s officially safe to make the highly-anticipated announcement?
There’s also the medical aspect of things, and how some women are susceptible to complications early on in their pregnancy, which can be brought on by stress.
This more than anything is the main reason why subjecting celebrities to the intense spotlight at what could potentially be a very vulnerable stage in their lives, is precisely the wrong thing to do.
Basically it’s 2018, and back in 2003, the idea of pubs stalking famous women until the baby bump poked out, or the denial was swiftly issued seemed like standard procedure, but more than a decade later, this method of reportage seems woefully outdated and downright criminal.
My utter disdain with editors approving this form of normalized intimidation definitively stems from the maturity that comes with facing my own battles with fertility, and how much more mentally cumbersome it would be, if I had to contend with relentless blurbs about my forthcoming pregnancy announcement.
We absolutely need to get rid of “baby bump watch,” and women editors in particular, need to help with this initiative.
There’s nothing honorable about questioning a women’s ability to get knocked up in a timely fashion or prematurely predicting a pregnancy without consideration for what could be happening behind-the-scenes.
The sexist element to this also can’t be dismissed, when you figure that men are able to seamlessly avoid the pressure cooker — containing endless queries, and summations, that aim to force out confirmations that aren’t meant for public consumption.
We need to evolve past the temptation to treat women in the public eye in ways that would horrify regular people who can’t imagine being stalked for the purpose of giving editors the winning shot of that “tiny bump,” that ends up being a combination of fluctuating hormones and a late dinner.
We also need to give props to new moms Rashida Jones and Rachel McAdams — and the OG Eva Mendes, who were all able to hibernate in peace without the disturbance of flashbulbs or generic reports from over-zealous blogs — that recklessly turn a blessed event into a horror show.
Our womanhood deserves to be treated with respect and the level of caution that befits the miracle of what our bodies can accomplish when the timing is right.
Watching “the bump” doesn’t apply, and the only thing to do is to edit that part out — effective immediately.