23 May 2007

celebrity adoption

Seriously. If i see another photo of Angelina Jolie in the newspaper I am going to scream. Sure, she's great and all blah blah blah for selflessly 'rescuing' all those poor unforunate children in the developing world (*tongue firmly planted in cheek*) but I am so sick of celebrity mothers being upheld as the freaking gold standard of parenting.

What I find really disturbing now is that all these Hollywood celebrities are jumping on the procreative bandwagon and embarking on a gestational journey to countries where poverty is rife and the children are ripe for the picking. Have you noticed how no one ever talks about Shiloh (Angelina's 'biological' child) anymore because her 'rainbow children' are so much more 'exotic'? Even Jessica Simpson is saying that she wants to adopt a child in the spirit of Madonna and Angelina. I just read the other day that Daryl Hannah wants to adopt a child from the US (because apparently American babies need saving).

Then I saw this interview in USA Today with Katherine Heigl who plays Izzy on Grey's Anatomy. Starring in a new movie called Knocked Up, Heigl had this to say about becoming a mother:

Q: Your Knocked Up character has a truly gruesome birthing scene. And you were in the delivery room with your older sister, Meg. That at all impact your decision to have kids of your own?

A: Oh, yeah. I've always planned to adopt anyway, but that definitely reinforced my want to. I'm done with the whole idea of having my own children. (It) doesn't seem like any fun. I don't think it's necessary to go through all of that.

Now, I am absolutely not judging anyone by implying that if you dont actually birth a child somehow that makes you less of a woman or the child is not really your own or that women should want to have children in general. Heigl's statement bothers me because it is so symptomatic of our culture that positions pregnancy and birth as disgusting or grotesque or awful. For celebrities, it's alot easier to just adopt because then they dont have to go through the anxiety of 'losing their bodies' like every other woman in the world who becomes a mother.

For full interview see:

17 May 2007

waging a war on pink toys

Sorry, it has been so many days since my last confession...er..i mean post. The last week has been a whirlwind of endless writing and I've finally been able to take a breath and bring you the latest in mothering from the front lines.

In the midst of my Google searching for some juicy celeb pregnancy goss, I randomly came upon Fisher-Price's latest installment of gender stereotyped toys. I scanned the FP website only to find the 'Little Mommy Newborn Nursing Doll' which comes in a range of skin colours so little girls can have a doll that looks just like them.

Not only is said 'Little Mommy' doll (referred to as LM from now on) swaddled in pink like any good and hyper feminised little girl but the manufacturer's description goes on to say 'This baby's eyes are blue, her skin is light and her hair blond'. Isn't that precious and so typically Aryan?

Seriously, makes me want to hurl. I mean there's nothing wrong with children playing with dolls; that's how they learn about the social world (and this is both a good thing and a bad thing). What really bothers me about this toy is that it reiterates the fact that women should be nurturing and appropriately gendered. If children's toys (and this one is made exclusively for girls) are extolling the joys of motherhood, young girls learn quickly that the only path to feminine fulfillment is through the womb; any personal achievement outside of motherhood pales in comparison. Why are we teaching out girls to be 'Little Mommies' when boys are playing with trains and cars? Where is the 'Little Daddy' doll? I mean surely parents are more progressive these days and the gendering of play time is considerably less black and white, but the fact that it's 2007 and toy companies are still trying to sell the same tired old gender stereotypes is pretty depressing.

LM makes me think of the 'Happy Family' Midge Barbie doll who was of course married and visibly pregnant; open her stomach and out pops a curled up baby. In 2002, Walmart had to pull Midge off the shelves because the idea that young children would discover how babies actually enter the world was far too off-putting (even though Midge has a sort of an elective caesar every time baby is 'born'!) Women's distended stomachs were supposed to be hidden even though Midge was in an appropriately gendered, heterosexual marriage. Surely these complaints come from parents who want their kids to think that they came from the cabbage patch!

So this is the point. According to toy manufacturers, it's okay to tell little girls that they should be wearing pink and swaddling newborns without any inclination as to how the babies actually enter the world. Yet,when a manufacturer actually makes a pregnant 'mother' doll, the horror of women's biology is too much for people to stomach.

12 May 2007

Mothers' unrealistic expectations too much

Apparently I'm an 'expert' now.....hahaha...this is from today's Herald Sun in honour of Mother's Day:

Mothers' unrealistic expectations too much
Susie O'Brien and Carla Danaher

A-LIST mothers are inspiring real mums to "have it all" and pursue kids and glamorous careers.
But experts warn they are putting mothers under pressure to live up to an unrealistic image of motherhood.

Prominent Melbourne mothers include Alannah Hill, Jane Hall, Jo Silvagni, Jo Hall, Kate Ceberano, Kimberley Davies, Jennifer Keyte and new expat Simone Warne.

These yummy mummies come hot on the heels of their Hollywood counterparts, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Liv Tyler and Gwen Stefani, who pair career and kids with great success.

But University of Melbourne gender studies expert Meredith Nash said the glamour of the red carpet and women's magazines did not reflect the realities of pregnancy and motherhood.
Local celebrity mums, including footballer's wives, set a high standard for regular mums, she said.

"They all rock up to the Brownlow in their custom-made maternity gowns looking amazing," Ms Nash said.

TV identities such as the recently "boned" Jessica Rowe also gave a glamorous impression of pregnancy.

"When she became pregnant, she really didn't change at all. She didn't gain weight, she didn't look different," Ms Nash said.

"Motherhood for them is just about gushing about how wonderful it is."

Practical Parenting magazine reports that it's "hard not to feel cynical when yet another Hollywood star claims to be a 'working mum' ".

"The way has been paved for modern-day Hollywood working mothers to give birth, get their bodies back into shape in record time, pursue passionate relationships, attend A-list parties and travel the world saving babies -- all without having a flat hair day," author Nicky Elliott writes.

Melbourne psychologist Dr Janet Hall said the so-called halo effect inspired women to see celebrities as role models.

She agreed that comparisons could be costly.

"It's so unrealistic because most of these women have unlimited money and unlimited time because they can pay others to do things for them," Dr Hall said.

Melbourne plastic surgeon Dr Craig Rubinstein said women who wanted to have surgery to look like a celebrity were unrealistic.


09 May 2007

size zero

You might remember Leah Remini from The King of Queens gained 80lbs during her pregnancy and was slammed in the American media for being too 'fat' because she didn't snap back into shape as quickly as alot of other Hollywood mums. Here is a recent interview where she talks about the post-baby body fiasco:

Q: Since then what has been your biggest life-changing decision?

A: I think my decision to have a baby was the biggest life-altering decision that I've ever made. It just changes your whole life. It just changes everything about you. It changes your goals. It changes the way you think about things, the person you thought you were, you know?

Q: Your body gets as much attention as your work -- good and bad. Did you find it annoying?

A: Well, when you have a baby and you are not blessed with a metabolism [such] that you can get back into your jeans the very next day, it becomes something to focus on. I don't even blame the papers. They are making money from it, but the people who are buying it? I just went on Tyra [Banks Show]. She has a great campaign called "So What?" I think it's fabulous. It's about sending that message -- yeah, I'm fat, or yeah, I'm chubby, or yeah, I have stretch marks: so what! I love that message. So frigging what, men! It seems so silly to me. And nobody was really biting on the fact that I lost the weight [after the birth]. I wanted to tell people how I lost the weight. It was, like, no one wanted to talk about how I actually did lose the weight, just that I got fat.

Q: Being 5-foot-3 is a whole different story from being even 5-foot-6 in terms of weight when you're having a baby.

A: Yeah, and also some are a size zero going into it. I was never a size zero. There are women in this town who are, so their fat day is a size 4. I've always been a little thick, but I don't mind. I like being a little meaty.

You can read the full interview here:

Speaking of size zero, this has a been a topic that I've been slightly obsessed with for the past week (is there really such a thing as being slightly obsessed?) and whilst there is seemingly tremendous cultural status for women (mostly celebrities or those who are 'naturally' petite) who can fit into small sizes, I came across an interview with Liz Lange, perhaps the most famous maternity designer in the US, about how she had to start making size zero maternity clothing. Lang says, 'We have, in fact, had to add a smaller size. That size being a zero. A zero isn't a true zero. We have our own size system here. But a very, very, very small size for those skinny-mini women, who are just, you know, skinny, skinny, skinny, with a little belly'.

A recent Johns Hopkins University study says that 1 in 5 pregnant women think it's okay to skip meals...being a size zero when you aren't pregnant is a feat in itself...trying (note: i said trying, not a reference to women who are already tiny) to be a size zero when you are pregnant is just bloody dangerous. On the other hand there are apparently heaps of women out there who are just absolutely tiny and can't find any maternity clothes to fit them

Has anyone actually seen a size zero maternity garment? If you have, let me know!

07 May 2007

breastfeeding still a big no-no

'Workplaces 'not breastfeeding-friendly' http://au.news.yahoo.com/070507/2/13dgp.html:

'Australian mothers are forced to wean their babies off breast milk too early because workplaces are not "breastfeeding-friendly", a public inquiry has been told'.

Ya think? As if this is really a surprise to anyone but the Howard government.....

06 May 2007

new gender testing kit

Has anyone else heard about the new DNA testing kit which determines the gender of the fetus at 6 weeks? 'The Early Gender Test' is sparking protest in Britain particularly from Right to Life proponents who argue that if women are able to find out the gender of a fetus so early into the pregnancy, abortion rates will increase. The test apparently is accurate because fetal DNA is present in the mother's bloodstream only a few weeks into the pregnancy. Women can purchase the DNA kit online and then receive the results within 4 working days. The test checks for Y-chromosomes in the mother's blood which indicates the presence of a boy.

I have to say I am not concerned about the test in terms of the anti-abortion position of 'killing' more 'babies', what does concern me is that this test will be used as a means for sex selection; for example, it's a frightening prospect to think that even more baby girls will be terminated because they aren't as culturally 'valuable' (hello, China!). Apparently the company claims it does not allow orders to be taken on the website from countries that are known for gender biased birth policies like China or India but this is not indicated on the company website. In China, sex selection has led to an imbalance of about 120 men for every 100 women; and in India, one recent report from an affluent area of New Delhi found that for every 1,000 boys born in 2004, only 762 girls were born.

Bioethicists have made similar arguments about the increasingly sophisticated nature of 3D/4D ultrasound technology which is used for the same purposes by most expectant parents just later in the pregnancy (normally at about 18 weeks). The gender of a foetus can be determined by ultra-sound imagery but it is not very accurate before four to six months. The company that created the product, DNA Worldwide, claims that the new test is 99% accurate and if it does make an incorrect prediction parents will receive a refund. Many doctors are still skeptical of the accuracy of the test and at least 200 couples have already received incorrect gender determinations which were confirmed with ultrasound later in the pregnancy.

Should we make use of new technology just because we can?

Read more here:

http://www.in-gender.com/Gender_Venders/Acu-Gen.aspx (about the inaccuracy of the test)

03 May 2007

pregnant in america

Why are 98% of babies in America born in hospitals? How come 66% of hospital revenue comes from childbirth? I read about Pregnancy in America earlier in the year but just revisited the website and I have to say that I think it will be one of the most riveting films about childbirth and pregnancy in America to date. I watched the trailer and literally had goosebumps. Watch it for yourself and tell all of your friends: http://pregnantinamerica.com

This is how the director describes the film:

Pregnant in America examines the betrayal of humanity's greatest gift--birth--by the greed of U.S. corporations. Hospitals, insurance companies and other members of the healthcare industry have all pushed aside the best care of our infants and mothers to play the power game of raking in huge profits. His wife pregnant, first-time filmmaker Steve Buonaugurio sets out to create a film that will expose the underside of the U.S. childbirth industry and help end its neglectful exploitation of pregnancy and birth. Pregnant in America is the controversial story of life's greatest miracle in the hands of a nation's most powerful interests.

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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.