Baby Bump Nation: Celebrities and Infertility
In the age of celebrity baby bumps, it’s no surprise that infertility would make its way into the gossip rags and on entertainment blogs. As much as infertility seems to be misunderstood by the general public, the media often portrays infertility in a sensationalized light, only feeding that larger cultural misunderstanding about infertility.
Take Nadia Suleman, for example, known to most of us as “Octo-mom.” Her story, while true, illustrates only one extreme and highly unethical infertility scenario. Even Jon and Kate Plus Eight represent another extreme variable. These women and families attained celebrity status because of their infertility journeys, leading many people to believe that high-order multiple births are the norm.
Sensationalized stories like these can make it harder for us as infertility patients. If we disclose our need for fertility treatments, we are often met with questions such as, “Aren’t you worried about having too many babies?”
Then there are the media stories that are relentless and downright mean-spirited, such as Beyonce and Jay-Z’s long-awaited journey to parenthood. It seems the ones waiting longest were celebrity media and paparazzi, speculating that the young singer might be having fertility issues of her own as year after year of her marriage to rapper Jay-Z passed by without a grand pregnancy announcement. And even when Beyonce did announce her pregnancy, sporting her own cute little baby bump for the press, media outlets even went so far as to speculate she wore a fake pregnancy suit during her pregnancy.
It’s like Beyonce couldn’t win: according to the press, it took her too long to get pregnant and when she did, there was no way it could have been real.
It’s not all doom and gloom for celebrities and infertility. There are plenty of celebrities who are incredibly vocal about their infertility experiences and in doing so, help to counter some of the otherwise negative and sensationalized coverage out there.
Take Elizabeth Banks, a new mom thanks to a surrogate. She has been vibrant and outspoken about her decision to pursue surrogacy. Padme Lakshmi of Top Chef fame, after years of dealing with endometriosis, went on to co-found the not-for-profit Endometriosis Foundation of America. Actress Courteney Cox, best known for her role as Monica on Friends, has publicly discussed her recurrent miscarriages and use of IVF to have her daughter.
Even so, some celebrities don’t want the spotlight focused on their TTC efforts. It was recently reported that Lamar Odom, husband to celebutante Khloe Kardashian, does not want his wife’s fertility treatments – if they pursue them – to be televised on their reality TV series. Khloe, meanwhile, has publicly denied that she and Lamar are currently undergoing treatment.
With all the swell of media attention on baby bumps and just how those bumps came to be, we’re operating in a new age of public discourse about infertility, privacy and simply reporting the facts correctly. What do you think about how the media and celebrities talk about infertility? Should they talk about it more? Let us know in the comments.
Written by Keiko Zoll