While I, myself, alternate based on mood and circumstances I make up and change by the second, between condemning and celebrating (or at least refusing to apologize for) our collective fascination with celebrity culture, there is one element that is, across the board, pretty icky. And that is how we treat celebrities and their various stages of baby-making.
It was really cool back in 2014, when Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard spearheaded the movement to shame magazines and other outlets into keeping paparazzi pictures of stars’ children off their pages. It was really cool, until you realized that then any pictures of those children that ended up in those major publications were staged, sold, or otherwise pretty much used as currency between actors and outlets.
The invasiveness of our interest in celebrities’ lives, though, starts WAY earlier. Like, many stages of gestation earlier. Just this week, John Krasinski tweeted out this announcement of the birth of his second child with Emily Blunt.
What better way to celebrate the 4th… than to announce our 4th family member!!! 2 weeks ago we met our beautiful daughter Violet #Happy4th— John Krasinski (@johnkrasinski) July 4, 2016
If you found yourself wondering if you knew Emily Blunt was pregnant, you’re definitely not alone. I couldn’t remember if I knew that, or if I had forgotten that she had a child, like, quite a few years ago, and had instead somehow just been pregnant since The Edge of Tomorrow. And are you also wondering why it took TWO WHOLE WEEKS for us to get this information??
That’s how we treat pregnant celebrities, for the most part— deeply invested in, but only peripherally interested in every detail. Have you noticed the new trend of these stars “withholding” the names of their babies until— the nerve— they’re ready to share that information? There are secrets and there are reveals and anything else is INCOMPREHENSIBLE BULLSHIT.
The “secret” pregnancies are coming more and more often, and while probably always knew that calling this a secret was giving all of us more credit than we deserved in terms of what information we were entitled to, we now have the perfect words, courtesy of the brilliant author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is the woman behind Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists, a noted inspiration to Beyonce, and now the master of pregnancy announcements, with equal parts celebration, pride, and goddamn privacy.
First of all, she revealed the recent birth, seemingly unprovoked, in an interview with the Financial Times. In commenting on her mocktail, Adichie (by the looks of it) surprised her interviewer by saying she would probably prefer a glass of wine over her sugary drink, but she’s currently breastfeeding.
As in breastfeeding a baby. A SECRET baby.
So why hadn’t she made some sort of announcement, during or after her pregnancy? Well, as she perfectly put it, it’s weird that we expect her to.
I have some friends who probably don’t know I was pregnant or that I had a baby. I just feel like we live in an age when women are supposed to perform pregnancy. We don’t expect fathers to perform fatherhood. I went into hiding. I wanted it to be as personal as possible.
“Performing” pregnancy. I can’t think of better words to describe the entire process.
Second reaction? That of course all women— all parents— deserve the privacy they request. And good for Adichie for not just requesting, but silently demanding and owning that privacy. But while in a perfect world, every situation would be that cut and dry, it never is, is it?
Even in the coverage of this interview, and the retroactive analysis of Adichie’s pregnancy, we still want to focus on one singular narrative. Because while pregnant, she didn’t exactly hide anything, and maybe it’s only through her alt-celebrity status that we were spared the speculation headlines.
Yet, at the same time, she herself says that while not hiding anything, she herself says she was very much hiding everything. If she never commented on her appearance on red carpets, but simultaneously had to hide from friends, that may not be the typical celebrity infiltration, but it sure doesn’t sound ideal.
Although, you know what? This is already far too many words dedicated to what my— our— anyone’s idea of ideal is. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had a baby. She won’t tell us it’s name. She drank a mocktail. End of story.