28 January 2011

Blossom preaches on parenting

Oh, you know it's a good day when you get to talk about Blossom (aka Mayim Bialik) in a post. As quite possibly one of the foremost fashion influences in my life when I was 13, Bialik (now with a PhD in neuroscience, 2 kids, a revived acting career and voice of 'attachement parenting') has a new role as 'mommy blogger' (gag!) for Today (US), the breakfast 'news' (who are they kidding) show.

In her first post, Bialik has managed to press a few buttons with her writing about a typical day in her life as a parent. Now, whilst Bialik has been something of a postergirl for attachment parenting and natural childbirth, in this post she claims that she isn't in to labels and just does what feels right to her (even though she has referred to herself as living in an attachment parenting household before). Fair enough.

According to the actress, "This is not some fandangled new Hollywood trend. We parent the way people have parented for hundreds of thousands of years. So hang on to your hats and prepare for a view into my household."

What annoys me, however, is that following her abhorrence for being labelled, she then provides a laundry list of several things that she and her husband do regularly as part of their parenting (for example, co-sleeping, extending breastfeeding, baby wearing, 'gentle disipline'). Now, if she doesn't want to refer to these actions as 'attachment parenting', I'm not sure what else you would categorise them as. Instead of discussing why she thinks what she does works best for her family, there is a tone of self-righteousness in her descriptions.

For example, "Natural birth is not something to “try for” and feel bad you couldn’t do. Our country needs to step up to the plate in educating women about the benefits of natural birth, and we need to help women actually do it – not just hear about it." Okay, well if she is trying to say that women shouldn't feel badly about themselves if they are not able to have a natural birth, it doesn't make sense then to append that with a statement implying that women should be having natural births because they are better.

If Bialik is aware of all of the stereotypes of attachement parents (" I know what you’re thinking: AP parents are self-righteous, privileged, over-psychoanalyzed martyrs who (especially if they are celebrities) pretend to have the time, energy, patience and abundant love to be with their kids all the time without giving them any limits, boundaries or sense of independence.") then perhaps she should change people's minds about AP, live up to the label and be proud of it, rather than playing in to those very same stereotypes in her mightier-than-thou attitude to parenthood and, out of fear, refusing to identify with a community of parents who practice what you preach.

27 January 2011

'Family shields' in Arkansas 'protect' young shoppers from gay parents

It's times like this that I remember that everyone in the US actually doesn't share my worldview nor do they live in a blue state. Just as Elton John and his longtime partner David Furnish have welcomed their new baby into their home, Harps (with 60 retail stores across the US) have placed a 'family shield' (like the covers you generally find over porn mags) over the picture of Elton and his family on the cover of US weekly in order to 'protect' young shoppers. The company claims that they have not done this in every store but only in response to customer complaints. The photo has hit the internet thanks to @jennhudd, a Harps shopper who was appalled by the shields she saw in Arkansas (and promptly tweeted!). What is so hilarious is that while some parents must have complained about the US weekly cover because they think gay parenting is disgusting, unnatural or objectionable, these are probably the same parents that are happy to allow their children to play violent video games and who wouldn't bat an eye at the porn mags or other similarly degrading images of women that their children are exposed to everyday. In effect, this 'family shield' is suggesting that the depiction of two men in a long-term, loving relationship as partners and parents is equivalent to pornography. That a 'family' photograph is in need of a 'family' shield is laughably ironic but also so, so sad.

If this is appalling to you, call Harps on 877-772-8193 or use their contact form if you'd like to register your complaint.

UPDATE: Turns out Harps has decided to remove the family shields at the one offending store.

21 January 2011

Clijsters slams pregnancy rumour with panache at Oz Open

Oh if only all famous women responded to unsolicited uterus updates like tennis pro Kim Clijsters.....This little tidbit from Melbourne made my day:

Here's the story: David Cup coach Todd Woodbridge texted one of Clijsters friends, Rennae Stubbs speculating that Clijsters was pregnant again, specifically: "She looks grumpy and her boobs are bigger."

Stubbs told Kim about th e text and as Woodbridge interviewed Clijsters on court after her second round win over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro at the Australian Open, Clijster's decided to get Woodbridge back...(you can watch the deliciously mortifying footage here)

"You thought I was pregnant," Clijsters said.

Woodbridge, turning a deep shade of purple, shot back, "Well, I guess we've got to ask, are you?"

Clijsters said that no, she wasn’t, but that wasn't the end of it. She read out the text to the crowd:

"You said: 'She looks really grumpy and her boobs are bigger!'"

Woodbridge was mortified, saying: "Well that's the end of my TV career, so thank you very much."

I just love this. While women have alot of reasons to absolutely hate celebrity mums for all of their money and seemingly easy lives, I have to say that the unsolicited uterus speculation really gets to me. It's no one's business to ask a woman if she's pregnant and a million other inappropriate reproductive questions. Clijsters was absolutely correct in making this clear to a man who had no business inquiring about her body based on stereotypes (I mean seriously, 'looking grumpy' could describe most working mothers around the world on any day).


20 January 2011

Nicole Kidman has new baby

In a surprise to the world, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban revealed that they have welcomed the arrival of their new daughter, Faith Margaret through a surrogate in the US. While surrogacy is a fairly standard procedure among couples in the US and abroad, Kidman and Urban have sparked controversy by referring to their surrogate by the technical term, 'gestational carrier'.

"It all sounds like terms from a lawyer-drafted contract -- ghastly," one person tweeted.

That Kidman and Urban most likely paid the surrogate is also the source of debate. While the couple say that they went to the US for the surrogacy because they can fly under the radar more easily as a celebrity couple, it is well known that surrogacy for payment over basic costs is illegal in Australia.

I would guess that Nicole Kidman using the technical term because it helps her to distance herself and her new baby from the birth mother: She clearly wants to be known as the 'mother', whereas the surrogate is just the womb.

Miranda Kerr: first photo

How gorgeous is Miranda Kerr and her new bub? Miranda recently posted this beautiful photo on her blog that she is enjoying motherhood and that her natural birth was no cake walk.

"On the 6th of January I gave birth to our beautiful little son Flynn. He weighed 9lb 12 ounces (a very healthy and big baby boy). I gave birth to him naturally; without any pain medication and it was a long, arduous and difficult labour, but Orlando was with me the whole time supporting and guiding me through it. I could not have done it without him."

I love that she has chosen to be honest and say that natural birth is beautiful but it's not easy....AND she's showing the world that she is breastfeeding!

Natalie Portman compares self to whale

Just as Natalie Portman waxes about how unflustered she is about gaining pregnancy weight, at the Golden Globes (side note: did you see her Victor & Rolf gown? AH-MAZING), she says: “I hope I’ll get to lie in bed and eat popcorn and watch TV for the rest of it,” she laughs. “Not always be out in public looking like a whale, but it’s all nice energy that everyone is showing.”

Nat? You were setting such a good example!

Gwyneth Paltrow needs dose of reality

Once again Gwyneth Paltrow confirms just how out of touch with reality she really is. In response to a GOOP reader's query about combining a successful career with motherhood, Paltrow's answer is simple: a $2,300 coffeemaker, a personal trainer, and an assistant.

16 January 2011

Maternity clothes: keep or castaway?

For those of you that have been following BBP for awhile, you already know that much of my passion for pregnancy aside from all of my ranting about 'fat' and bodies is maternity fashion. I can't get enough of it and I love to follow the trends. Nevertheless, while it may appear that women are overwhelmed with choice now when it comes to choosing what to wear, when I was writing my PhD thesis back in 2006, there was almost no academic work being done on the topic. So I'd like to think that I'm a bit of a pioneer ;-) ANYWAY, one of the more fascintating things that I realised was that as I talked to pregnant women I became more interested in was what women did with their pregnancy clothing once they were no longer pregnant. Were the clothes given to a pregnant friend? To a second hand shop? Thrown in the bin? For many of the women in my study, even though they hated a lot of the clothing that they had to wear (maternity jeans are never perfect no matter how expensive or designer they are...), several women said they were hesitant to just get rid of them even if they were not planning on having another baby any time soon or ever. This article by Kate Haas for Salon is excellent because it reminded me so much of some of the themes that came up in my research about maternity clothing when it comes to the circulation of pregnancy clothes between women (mothers and daughters but also girlfriends) and the emotional significance of clothing during pregnancy but also more generally (for example, wedding dresses). Haas recounts having her mother offer up her old maternity clothes and not being interested in them given their preponderance of horrible patterns, ugly buttons and generally unflattering shapes. She doesn't want to wear them but at the same time realises why her mother kept them for so long.

Did you inherit maternity clothes from your mother? Your girlfriends? Did you keep your clothes or did you pass them on? If you kept some of your pregnancy clothes which items did you keep?

Possibly another book mums don't need...

As I have been re-visiting my hometown of Chicago for the last few weeks, I find myself gravitating to my favourite bookstores, the majority of which are now overrun with Alison Sweeney's new tome, The Mommy Diet. Sweeney, host of the The Biggest Loser (US) claims that this book reflects her new found sensitivities surrounding pregnancy weight gain and the pressures to lose baby weight quickly. While I am usually all for positive reading material for new mums when it comes to body image, there are several things that bother me about this book. Firstly, Sweeney (in spite of what are probably good intentions) is inextricably linked with a television show that puts ordinary but very obese individuals through the paces to lose extraordinary amounts of weight in a short period of time. While she acknowledges that this environment led to her own anxiety about losing weight postpartum, I still think that it is difficult for other mums who are inevitably going to read this book to separate her from the context from which she has become famous. Secondly, while Sweeney reiterates that the book is meant to be a book for 'healthy' pregnant and post-pregnant bodies, I find it bizarre that a book that is meant to be about 'health' or mindful eating/exercise has the word 'diet' in the title. Call me crazy, but I think most of us have pretty explicit pictures of what 'diet' means and it usual brings to mind pictures of restrictive eating and lots of exercise in order to lose weight which I think seems to contravene what Sweeney is intending to do with the book. The book is a month-to-month guide to weight loss which, to me, isn't much different than any of the three million other books on the market that purport to be 'different' and all about 'health' when really they are just diet books in disguise. I think the whole premise of the book is hypocritical. Although Sweeney says that she didn't lose her baby weight quickly, nevertheless, she lost it and I think she would be lying if she suggested she didn't have lots of support to do so.
Has anyone out there actually bought the book or have you seen it? What do you think of it?

15 January 2011

Portman pounded with pregnancy questions

As all eyes around the world have fixated on Natalie Portman for her dual roles as ballerina in Black Swan and mum-to-be, Portman has been asked endlessly about what she is eating, how she feels about pregnancy and whether she is worried about gaining weight after allegedly losing 20lbs for her role in the movie. I laughed to myself, however, when I read today that Portman is planning to step out of the spotlight after the birth. I wish her the best of luck with that. If the first few months of her pregnancy are any indication and considering that she has four movies coming out in 2011, the chances of Portman having a little privacy are slim to none. She is being a good sport about the interest in her life:

“It’s very positive interactions, I have to say,” Natalie told MTV News of the public knowing about her pregnancy. “The weird thing is … people knowing something that is so private but, I mean, you get used to that. It’s just wild to walk down the street and have a complete stranger be like, ‘Congratulations!’ It’s so nice, but it’s a new experience to have people know that much about your most private things. [But] it’s all good.”

Let's hope so.

13 January 2011

BBP resolves to have head no longer in sand

Geez..has it been this long? A new year and a renewed commitment to blogging as my new years resolution. For those of you who have been wondering where I have been, well, I've been traveling around the world on a much needed holiday after a wild and wonderful year of research and teaching.
I have returned to the world of pregnancy to relish in the thought of supermodel Miranda Kerr pushing out a 10lb baby, Kate Hudson carrying the love child of a rockstar, Natalie Portman announcing her pregnancy in the midst of her publicity tour for Black Swan in which she plays a ballerina gone mad and Kelly Preston and John Travolta presenting their new son Benjamin to the world via the most relevant news source, People magazine.
When it comes to parenthood, what are your resolutions for 2011?
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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.