I don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip. I’m pretty clueless as to who’s married to who, who’s divorcing who, who’s in rehab, who’s in trouble with the law… mostly because for the large part, I just don’t care. Big life events in my friends’ and family’s lives, those I care about. But “news” about people I’ll never meet who live starkly different lives than all of us Real Women? I have no desire to keep track. I have enough to worry about in my own life. I don’t wish ill-will on any of them, and I have a few celeb’s I’d call my favorites, and even fewer who I think seem to be cool, fairly normal people I’d like to have dinner with. But most often, when some hot celeb topic makes the newscasts, or the covers of the magazines in the check-out line, I find myself saying “why am I supposed to care about this?”
True, some of the blah-blah about the beautiful and famous can be a nice diversion from all the horrendously ugly news we get every day… so seeing photos of some lavish wedding can be fun, in a fairy tale way. For the most part, celebrity topics are kind of just fluffy background noise to me. But once in a while, I’ll hear something that stops me in my tracks.
This morning the Today Show team felt the need to share a story about Joanna Gaines, and her upcoming People Magazine cover and article. I believe this is because it had been a whole 5 minutes since the last time they talked about Chip or Joanna. Seriously, I don’t think either of those two can pass gas without the Today Show gushing about how wonderful it was. Again, I have nothing against either Chip or Joanne. They made it big, and then managed to make the news of their “retirement” bigger than any news during their previous HGTV career and mega-business. Whatever. Celebrities. Marginal interest on my part.
But this morning, the discussion was around Joanna’s interview about the birth of their 5th (yes, I said 5th) child. Ok, so 5 children is fairly unusual these days, so as I was putting on my makeup before heading out the door to work, with the usual R.W. 194 things spinning around in my head, they had piqued my curiosity and I paused to listen. She was then quoted as saying that “typically you feel tired, but this baby, he’s just like my second wind.” What?!? Really?? A forty year old woman with four children, gives birth to a fifth, and has extra energy?? Come oooooonnn. But wait. The ridiculousness of this “news” got worse. “I love the labor part. This is the moment we get to meet this little baby. It’s so much fun. I want to do it again.” EXCUSE ME?? Did she just call labor and giving birth FUN? And after 5 children she wants to do it AGAIN?? With all due respect, Joanna, you are clearly a freak of nature. She did attempt to toss in one scrap as a concession to us normal folk when she added that being pregnant at 40 was more challenging, because she was “out of breath a lot.” Awwww…. Poor dear, how traumatic. But they likely will continue to have more children while running all of their businesses and their Magnolia empire and oh, and by the way, she just wrote a design book too. Freak.
After I shut off the TV in amazement and headed out for my very normal, real woman day, I began to wonder once again why this kind of story was being shared. Yes, those who are big fans can be happy for the ever-growing Team Gaines. But beyond that, like every other story about those who are more beautiful, more successful, more “something” than the rest of us, what good does it do? I thought of how many women I’ve known or I’ve heard of who have had really truly difficult child births. Or those who have struggled just be get pregnant in the first place. The number of women who suffered so much during labor, and those who give birth to babies with health issues. None of them had “fun.” I thought of the mom’s who go through their days battling post-partum depression, or just plain ‘ol exhaustion, and those of us who many years later are still exhausted. No second, third, or even fourth, wind. And finally, those real women out there struggling to make ends meet with “just” two children, trying to keep them fed and clothed. And I wondered how any of them feel when they hear this story, or if they decide to pick up the magazine to read the article. How is this at all supportive, or anything anyone can truly relate to? How are we NOT going to compare ourselves to the unusual and seemingly “perfect” others? As I said before, yes, some positive news is always welcome. But isn’t there a fine line between good news and rub-your-face-in-the-lack-of-reality news?
I guess it is fine to pick up an issue of People, or any other glossy, unrealistic magazine to browse the pages as a form of escapism. But let’s not for a minute forget about how much more inspirational real life can be. I’m more impressed by the real woman who is juggling children, aging parents, and a lack of sleep, cleans up the cat or dog puke on her way out the door to get to work after locating a clean and unwrinkled outfit that is at least mildly flattering and comfortable, finds time to fit in doctors appointments, events and family time and is everyone’s go-to resource for medical and emotional support — yet still manages to keep her job because she doesn’t have 3 businesses and a best-selling book to fall back on. She is the same woman who will tell you the truth that childbirth is excruciating and life is exhausting, but she wouldn’t change it for anything.
Not even to be a cover model.