You might have noticed, I love motherhood. And I’m outspoken on all things birth and breastfeeding. So you might think I was one of the millions waiting with bated breath for the announcement that a rich, gorgeous couple I’ve never met had had their first baby today.
You’d be wrong.
Oh, I was following the news—it was impossible to avoid on Twitter. Heck, even Starbucks and Well.ca and other accounts I follow for deals and sales tweeted congrats to the new parents! But while I am apparently in the minority, and will no doubt come off like a humbug for admitting this, I don’t see why the birth of the little prince was such big news for anyone not related to him. And okay, maybe for the people of Britain. Yes, yes, all babies are wonderful etc. etc. and I wish them all happy and healthy. Truly. But why are some babies front-page news from the moment they are conceived (or even before, in the case of this child)? What is our societal obsession with the offspring of the rich and famous, or infamous? No really, I want to know, because I don’t get it.
You’re probably thinking: “this child is heir to the British throne! It’s a historic day!” To which I have to respond, meh. Despite the image of the queen on my money, I don’t feel the monarchy is at all relevant to me personally, or to Canada. I don’t think of them as my royal family. I don’t see them as having any real power. They’re just a remnant of an archaic system—a very expensive, privileged remnant.
It’s not just this particular baby, though (and I’m sure he’s lovely, and William and Kate are over the moon, as they should be). I feel the same way about the constant reporting on any celebrity pregnancy, birth, or baby. Is the media feeding an actual demand? And if so, who is demanding it? Why do we care how much weight this model gained during pregnancy, or how this actress conceived long after 40, or if that singer is going to change his child’s diapers? Why do reporters follow celebrities’ children around, feeding us earth-shattering news about who is “still” nursing, who “still” has a pacifier, who got what expensive gift for her birthday? And why, despite the fact I don’t seek out this information, am I still surrounded by it (stood in a grocery store line lately?)
Already I’ve seen links to articles on what the royal baby’s personality will be, based on his astrological sign. And headlines suggesting his sex is a disappointment to the public! (actually I know a bit about that…) The child is a few hours old, people. You know what I’m not looking forward to: the media falling all over itself for the first images of the prince. And any bets on how long* it will take the press to report on how quickly the (already genetically blessed, and wealthy enough to employ a trainer and nutritionist and nanny) Duchess will get back her “pre-baby bod”? I guarantee the words “flaunting” or “showing off” will be used in the headlines the moment the woman steps out in public, as long as she looks good, and especially if she dares to wear a swimsuit some place crazy like a beach on a private family vacation (which won’t really be private). If she retains a pound or two, well, she’ll surely be publicly shamed for that too.
Okay, I admit, even I am mildly curious what the new prince will be called. But it’s almost certain his name will contain any or all of the following: William, Charles, Phillip, Edward, Henry, James, David or George**. Nothing “unique” for this baby, I’ll wager. (I have a theory that all those bizarre names (Bear Blue, Pilot Inspektor, North West) celebrities give their children are really to throw off the public and the media, so plain old Ann or Jack or whatever can lead a somewhat normal life in private.)
On one hand, I feel sorry for celebrities, who have to endure the media glare during the most intimate moments of their lives. I could not imagine knowing there were crowds and cameras outside while I laboured. Talk about pressure! But on the other, I’m sure there are more than a few fringe benefits to being rich and famous that make up for all of that. Celebrities have to know going into the fame game what it means for their privacy, and many of them actively court the cameras (I still have no clue why the Kardashians are famous, but I get the sense it was not thrust upon them.)
The children of celebrities, though, have no such choice in the matter. So it would be nice if we left them alone. But somehow, I don’t see that happening.
*ETA: apparently less than 48 hours (though in fairness, there has been a lot of positive about the fact she didn’t try to hide her post-partum belly–and good on her! Because YES, after you grow and give birth to another human, you still look pregnant immediately afterwards!)
**ETA: George Alexander Louis it is.