April 30, 2006

But Can She Walk in Those Jimmy Choos?

The website for Expecting Models, a modeling agency for expectant and nursing models, featured an article titled Hollywood Moms are Hot by Carrie Dietz which appeared in the March 13/06 edition of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Racquet.

Is this news? No. Anyone that pauses long enough at the magazine racks in the grocery line knows that babies have replaced pocket dogs as the new Hollywood accessory. What is news to me is that this trend is sufficiently pervasive to warrant a modeling agency exclusively devoted to expectant and nursing moms.

The agency's website touts an impressive client list, including The Gap, Old Navy, Target, Bloomingdales, Motherhood Maternity and New Parent, and a creative services staff that features Baby Wranglers. Yes, Baby Wranglers. I envision a nightmare scenario whereby I am in the manpower office, having spent my last unemployment check, and the only job available to me is "Baby Wrangler." Aaaaaaaaaahh.

Back to the subject. Public fascination with celebrity moms has sparked a new reality show. The President of the Expecting Models agency, Liza Elliott-Ramirez, is featured in Discovery Health's program Runway Moms which documents the journey of expectant models from runway to delivery room.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing. Unless you consider the impact of this trend on the less glamorous moms as Carrie Dietz did in her article:

So what’s this baby phase saying to the middle class mothers of America? The ability for celebrities to have a baby, manage their career, and lose their extra weight in a mere month may begin to place unwanted pressure on “normal” mothers who are not fortunate enough to have an army of nanny’s by their side.

As the press publishes pictures of Denise Richards and her baby girl Sam Sheen playing in the park or Reese Witherspoon while taking daughter Ava on a shopping trip to Barney’s, they fail to show how optional those excursions can be. This present time mommy myth presents unrealistic demands upon the modern working mother.

Technorati Tags:


NikkiJ said...

I agree, nothing new. But to be honest, 1. I’m not terribly bothered about the modern working mother and her pressures, as there are plenty of ways they benefit over and above the modern working childfree woman/man in terms of working breaks. After all, they did choose to have children. And 2 – if they feel pressured by the apparent celebrity ease of having and bringing up baby, I suggest these women need to wake up and smell the coffee. Unrealistic demands? From whom? Is this where the modern working mothers get their influences from - the celebrity press? The press is ALWAYS going to focus on whatever a celebrity does, because, well, they are celebrities. Every single thing they do is fodder for the celebrity press – because that what ordinary folk want to read. What other reason for the huge sales on”Hello” Magazine, or “OK” and others?
IMO, It's not their role to show whether the excursions are optional or not.

And absolutely, the celebs can afford whatever they need in a way that non-celebrities (a.k.a mostly everyone else) can only dream of. But, they must surely know that these celebrity women are rarities and more the exception than the rule? And that their worlds are totally different? If not, and they are feeling under pressure to emulate them, then I can only say they have far, far bigger problems than any mommy myth – and it isn’t the fault of the celebrities or the press!
To me, the real myth that women need to be aware of is the one that says (working) women can have children and still have the lifestyle and career they had before they did so. From what I have seen, to a large extent they can’t.

NikkiJ said...

On a lighter note - Just to show I know what’s going on in celebrity world… :-)) And the press gets into a right old frenzy trying to get any pictures they can.
Other Celebrity mums of recent:

Angelina Jolie (about to drop)

Britney Spears (baby no.2)

Katie Holmes (poor girl!) Tom says her name is now Kate, now she is a mother with responsibilities…God help her..

Gwyneth Paltrow (I’m a HUGE Coldplay fan, but Apple? Well Moses is an improvement; at least it’s a real name. I feel so sorry for children whose parents insist on giving them the weirdest names… Coldplay rocks though! :-))

AlphaGirl said...

I was going to use the term "sheep" to describe folks who let celebrities influence their every action, childbearing included, but I think I'll use the term "lemmings" instead ;-))

Anonymous said...

NikkiJ - What's IMO? I hate it when I don't know an acronym,...and there are soooo many more in the age of text messaging!

"...the real myth that women need to be aware of is the one that says (working) women can have children and still have the lifestyle and career they had before they did so..."

That's good. Real good.

AlphaGirl & NJ - I am tortured by the magazine covers when I stand in line at the grocery store. I actually struggle to avert my eyes from the dumb women's magazines and celebrity rags, even to the point of chatting up the stranger standing behind me.

Is there a magazine out there for Purple Women? Outdoor Magazine? Fitness? I feel like we are too small an audience to ever be the target of a marketer!!!

AlphaGirl said...

I've stopped reading a lot of women's magazines because I can't relate to a lot of them. About the only exeception is Jane, which is aimed at a younger audience, but has a good, non-pronatalist bite to it. I can't relate to much of anything skewed to our age group...I have no money to invest, can't afford to travel, don't own a home, and am joyfully single.

Indepenent mags such as Bust, Utne Reader, Bitch, etc. are more my speed.
I love to read, so I just look for stuff within my interests...I train for marathons, so I read Runner's World;they seem not to care about familial status and are focused on those who want to train smart and live to tell about it.
part of the dilemma is this; mags are targeted toward the broadest readership....we are seen as a "niche" audience since we are relatively small. Not small, just a little quiet for our own good. Anyway, CF folk are very diverse in their reasons, politics, socioeconomic status, etc. and it would be hard to focus on all those diverse interests and demographics and sell enough bvolumes to stay in business.
Mags are marketed to a stereotype. The housewife, the working mother, fitness nut, frat boy, etc. Mainstream publications have little to offer us, with some execeptions. For now, electronic media is the way to go.

As for those check-stand magazines(gossip rags, women's magazines) I take 'em with a grain of salt and give thanks I don't belong to the demographic they are catering to. They're certainly not going anywhere, because they all sell like hotcakes and keep those huge publishers in business. Disturbed by a dumb women's mag?(Redbook ran an article on Geena Davis and her mommy bliss at 46..not a responsible piece of journalism)Grab it, buy it, and fire off a letter to the editor. I did that with women's mags a few years ago, and it was great to get my voice out there. The letters didn't run(of course) but I did say my piece. Can't ask for any more than that.

NikkiJ said...

Teri, sorry lapsed into web & text speak, usually I'm careful but sometimes they slip through :) - IMO = In my opinion.
And... IMHO = In my huimble opinion.
LOL = Laughing out loud (now you MUST know that one)!
LMAO = Laughing my ass off
L8r = Later.
It occurs to me as I write this that I could actually write this whole message in text speak... and it would be less than a quarter of the length! wow!

NikkiJ said...

If there is a magazine for childfree women, I haven't seen it. I'm not surprised though. For one thing we come from all walks of life, and from many different backgrounds,professions and have a wide range of interests. We can be found everywhere! When you think of it, the only thing that really sets us apart from other women is the fact that we don't have and are not raising children (along with not having the associated baggage), and that fact isn't(usually) even easy to tell unless you get talking to us. Do we need our own magazine? Maybe, maybe not. From the child free women I have met, they actually don't want to stand out any more than they want to be part of the "all-women-must-be-mothers-or-there-is-something- wrong-with-them" lie. They just want to be left alone to get on with their lives without having to explain themselves to every Tom, Dick and Harriet (and sadly that often includes family). Maybe a magazine would be an education piece?!

NikkiJ said...

What magazines do I read? I love clothes, knowing what's in and what's not,how to throw them together and so on, ( and even if I can't afford to buy it I still enjoy looking) so I simply love InStyle magazine. I get it every month. I read it from cover to cover and tear out fashion and other pages that interest me, take them shopping to hunt for the cheaper versions of the really expensive things. I have found some cool bargains that way, particularly in the designer outlets. Being a business professional I read the Harvard Business Review (have done for several years) and I keep up with my financial reading, business and personal. I do a lot of on-line reading too. I used to read a lot of computer magazines - I am a (reformed) gadget nut - but stopped because you can find most of the stuff on-line now.

I also subscribe to Style at Home, for ideas for when we eventually renovate our condo. I used to read Cosmo (the original British version, but stopped years ago, when it back a little to way out - even for me!

AlphaGirl said...

Hi Nikki-

I couldn't agree more...many of the Cf women I've spoken to over time don't want to stand out..it's part blessing, part curse. As time goes on for me, I know I just want to "get on with it" and not hinge my identity on one aspect of myself.
At any rate, as you said, we are just too varied in out interests, backgrounds, etc. to be consolidated into one demographic to the satisfaction of a magazine publisher. I'm not sure I would want to read a mag that was targeted to CF folk.. that would be just as separatist as the mags aimed at the Mommy crowd. .I just grab what looks good and informative, regardless of the target audience. I lose my patience with the lame women's mags that are out there, but I also know that I don't have to buy them...they are there for someone elses's comsumption. =)
I've learned over time that the best education for people(besides speaking out on occaision), is through action: By living my life joyfully and without regret, I'm educating people about CF living through my actions, up to and including parking in M&B spaces. Works like a charm every time.

ChrisR said...

"I can't relate to much of anything skewed to our age group...I have no money to invest, can't afford to travel, don't own a home, and am joyfully single."

Thanks AlphaGirl, now I know what my 'problem' is. :)

Anyway, I'm also not sure a CF maagazine would do it for me. I read a broadsheet (the Australian) and pick up things like Mother Jones or Vanity Fair when they've got something interesting to say. Seems most of the women's magazines are full of mindless drivel.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's pretty insulting.

Elise said...

There's a magazine called "More" whose mission is too "celebrate women who are 40+". It's the closest thing to an all-purpose women' magazine I've come across, actually, and the only one I've actually occasionally bought off the rack in the past year.

Because childbearing after 40 is still (thankfully) fairly rare, the focus seems to be on other things: travel, career, health, relationships, and sensible fashion (i.e., not skewed to the 18-24 set). There is the occasional article on parenting, but because women in this cohort are more frequently parents of teens than parents of under-10s (or, more to the point, infants), the "romance of parenting" element BS just isn't nearly so present.

By "romance", I mean that parents of teens don't often go about gushing about "it's the most important thing I've ever done...it's changed my life forever, in ways more positive than I could ever imagine...I thought I was living fully before, but now I see I was wrong"...they spend more of their time trying to make sure their cars don't get wrecked, their daughters don't get pregnant, their sons are solicited for sex on the internet, and the homework gets done. People who are parenging children in this age group also are far less likely to evangelize about parenting to CFs.

I sometimes hear a new parent in the "romance" phase, I try to be kind (after all, sometimes their ramblings sound very reminiscent someone raving about a drug experience --- must be the sleep deprivation!). But at the same time, I'm thinking "Hey, why don't you come with me to work for a day? Life in a modern high school is ever so much more interesting than you'd probably imagine!"