Does Beyoncé realize that women have been carrying and birthing babies for thousands of years? More to the point, do we?
I get the fact that by now, all bets are off when it comes to celebrity motherhood — what with Erykah Badu live-tweeting her home birth and “it” girls introducing their Havens and Sparrows to the world in People. We know all about how Gisele’s bathtub birth didn’t hurt, and very soon we will know what Kingston, Zuma and all of the Jolie-Pitts wore for Halloween.
But I think I may have to draw the line at the continuous, wall-to-wall blitz that has become Beyoncé’s pregnancy. It may be the perfect symbol of married black love — which many a culture critic has said that we desperately need to see — writ large. It may be the ultimate marketing machine, swathed in couture as befits hip-hop royalty. But the mania surrounding this biological event has gotten way out of hand.
I’m happy for you, Bey, but the joy growing inside your womb is not the blueprint, and it is not biblical. It isn’t the Visitation; nor is it the dawn of a new epoch in the human calendar. It’s a baby.
Beyoncé is all about doing things large and loud, and her August baby-bump reveal at the MTV Video Music Awards didn’t disappoint. With the rub broadcast round the world, she instantly locked down Best Gestational Red Carpet Moment Ever, setting a 8,868-tweet-per-second record that dwarfed news of the royal wedding and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
It wasn’t just another blingy pop-culture moment: That reveal was the 21st-century equivalent of a pregnant Lucille Ball shattering convention in 1953, when the childbirth episode of I Love Lucy beat out ratings for Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential inauguration the following day.
Celeb Motherhood Redefined?
Twenty years after Demi Moore’s watershed pregnancy cover for Vanity Fair, Beyoncé is making it clear that she’s ready to grab the mantle and redefine celebrity motherhood, commanding the world to feel the love inside her sequined tuxedo jacket.
“It’s a very human instinct going back centuries, this fascination with what’s really going on in pregnancy. Is she or is she not? What’s going on inside that bump?” says Ziv Eisenberg, a Yale historian who studies the history of pregnancy in modern America. “But in the last 50 years and especially the last 20, we’ve been constantly redrawing the lines and asking, what parts of the pregnant body can we consume?”