Natural Hair Mag

The racialized and classed politics of the “baby bump”

pregnantPhoto  by Inferis. CC BY

I can’t help but cringe every time I log onto yahoo news and see the site celebrating the fact that yet another white celebrity is pregnant. In the event you haven’t noticed, baby bump-as-accessory has been a hot new thing for a while now.

Usually in celebrity culture, the cycle goes like this:

Woman gets pregnant. Woman carts around her baby bump like Paris Hilton carts around her dog in her purse. Woman gives birth to baby. She immediately loses all of her weight so that she looks like she’s never even had a baby. Repeat.

Most of us know that after the show “16 and Pregnant” came out, there was a giant cultural panic because everyone was afraid that girls would suddenly want to get pregnant even though most of the women’s lives in the show seemed absolutely horrible.

I have been increasingly bothered by the racialized politics of fertility, most evidenced in *who* we celebrate when we hear the news that they’re pregnant.

Yes-Mila Kunis [popular from that 70’s show] is pregnant. Oh, and the other day I heard that another white celebrity was pregnant [forgot her name…there are just so many damn pregnant white women]. People magazine has a list of celebrities who are pregnant…and yes, they are all white. Glamour shows 36 celebrity couples who are pregnant and only 6 out of the 36 are women of color.

Do we disproportionately celebrate the pregnancies of white women over women of color in celebrity culture? Do we disproportionately celebrate the pregnancies of wealthy women over poor women? [Cue the 85 weeks that international media kept obsessing over Princess Kate Middleton’s baby bump…my gosh].

If you haven’t already noticed, there’s a giant stigma surrounding the sexuality of women of color, namely Black women. Historically [you could also argue this is true today], Black women were regarded as hyper-sexual Jezebels who just couldn’t control their sexuality. I’m sure most of you have heard the myth about the “Black welfare-food stamp-crack head” woman who has 300 children just so that she can live off the government because man, it’s just so much fun! In fact, Black and Latina women experience higher rates of rape and sexual assault than white women; however, culture has deemed these women “unrape-able” considering they’re just so damn sexual!

Dr. Aisha Durham, a professor at the University of South Florida, was interviewed in a Huffington Post live discussion titled, “Is Fertility care just for white people” where she discusses the fertility treatments she received. She details the overwhelming whiteness in fertility clinics where images of white families and white babies were plastered on the walls. She even says that she was usually the only Black woman in the room. I would urge you to watch the whole interview.

I even googled, “fertility treatments” and found that most of the images were of white families, white women, and white babies.

Do we purposefully celebrate white women’s fertility because of racist stereotypes surrounding white women’s supposed purity?  Is pregnancy a classed thing…meaning that if you’re in the higher income bracket, you’re to be celebrated, but if you’re in a lower-income bracket, then you’re to be shamed? That just seems twisted.

It’s sad to know that Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a woman” speech still desperately applies today.

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