Bad mothers, baby bumps and more

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I could scarcely believe the fuss about Chrissie Swan who confessed to smoking while pregnant with her third child. As a TV personality and a woman with a weekly column in The Sunday Age, Swan had little choice but admit her ‘folly’. After all she’d being caught smoking in her car by the paparazzi.

But I really wish that she hadn’t broken down and confessed.

Confessed to what? Why can’t she have a private cigarette? Is it her child or ours? Even though Swan is in the public gaze she deserves some privacy and should be able to have an occasional smoke if this is what helps her cope with life’s demands. Instead she’s been branded another ‘bad’ mother.

In 1970, most pregnant women were blissfully ignorant. The effects of smoking, alcohol and medications on our unborn offspring was not understood or communicated in the way that it is today. People smoked in cars, in homes, in restaurants and even in hospitals. This is not to say that this was ideal of course, it wasn’t.

But neither is the current state of mania regarding babies and the women who bear them. Scan what’s left of our daily papers or glance at the Woman’s Day or the Women’s Weekly; the magazines are packed full of endless stories about young, famous and sexy women who are either pregnant or trying to conceive.

The editor of Woman’s Day has defended paying up to $150,000 for a photograph of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge splashing about in a bikini on a public beach. Why is this?

Maybe she’s the first woman to bear a child? Why else would anyone care whether she is pregnant or ponder the state of her ‘baby bump’!

In Our Baby Bump Obsession, Lenore Skenazy asks who’d ever heard of the “baby bump” until about 10 years ago?

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Baby Bump discreetly hidden

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Right now babies are ‘hot’, she says.  Just as most of society is obsessed with celebrities, their offspring have become its obsession too. Then there’s the intense interest in how stars such as Angelina Jolie cope with being ‘fat’ and how quickly they return to their svelte selves. And as far as the news poor media is concerned there are nine months of gestation, then the birth, the infancy and the years beyond from which to mine stories and pictures.

Skenazy claims ‘America’s famous-fetus-focus is just part of the whole child-centric world we’re caught up in.’

That’s in the western world at least. Other cultures have richer lives I hope.

Categories: feminism, media, media representation, popular culture, womens rights

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