I was in the bathtub last night reading Cosmo*, and in between “New Hot Sex Tricks!” (hint: touch his penis during foreplay!) and “Cosmo for Men: The Morning After” (hint: don’t be a dick), I stumbled across a truly fascinating, and dare I say enlightening article. You see, it is important to understand that I approach Cosmo from the stance of an interested outside observer. It’s like tracking chimps in the wild for me, a glimpse of a radically alien culture with its own complex power and social structure.
What this article was about, essentially, is how babies are the newest fashion accessory. It contained a brief overview of babies in the news and pregnant celebrities. What is also had was a fashion guide. Yes, that’s right: show off that bump in designer duds! The best bags to accessorize your baby with! How to gain a minimal amount of weight during pregnancy, and get it off as soon as possible afterwards!
I was rather horrified.
You see, the thing is…I don’t particularly like babies, as a general rule. I could do with quite a few less in the world. So any magazine encouraging people to breed is a cause for concern for me. But beyond that, babies are people. They have souls, and minds of their own. The thought of using a living being as a fashion accessory, whether it be a toy dog or an infant, is disgusting. What kind of life does a child live when it only exists because its mother needed to follow the latest hip trend, and what happens when babies fall out of style? Tossed out, like last year’s handbag?
This article also worries me as a feminist because it makes some generalizations about female society that are a bit disturbing. The first, of course, is that all women should follow trends, and that we will only be widely socially accepted if we keep up with the times. If you aren’t ready for a child, that’s too bad, because now really is the best time, and you’d better get knocked up as soon as possible so that you don’t miss the season! If you are infertile, you’d better consider in vitro fertilization, because adoption won’t cut it, ladies. Thinking for yourself is not to be encouraged, because it might lead you to dangerous conclusions. (Which would also be erroneous, because you are a woman, but the damage would have been done anyhow.)
The second concern I have about articles like this is the issue of reproductive rights. I am a bit uncomfortable with the idea of encouraging people to breed, which is a life changing decision. Ultimately, even in a very committed couple, the nine months of the pregnancy are very hard on a woman—far more than her partner. That’s a lot for a body to endure for the sake of fashion…just like corsets and high heels are a lot to endure. Of course, at the end of the day, you can take a corset off, or throw the high heels in the back of a closet. You can’t really do that with junior, though, unless you want to spend some time getting to know child protective services. Using your reproductive abilities to follow fashion…seems a little ominous to me. Family planning is a calculated choice, akin to buying a house, not a new pair of pants. I know a lot of very happy parents, and I am very happy for them…and I also know that their choice to have a child was calculated, and not done on a whim to follow the latest fashions. I also know that their children will be loved and well cared for throughout their lives, which is as it should be.
So here we have women being told to get pregnant for the sake of fashion. We are being informed that it’s the new in thing to do. Let us disregard the human lives that might be damaged by this trend, shall we? Now is the time to wear designer maternity gowns and dress your infant in humiliating outfits, to flaunt your cute baby and pass it to the nanny when it gets dull.
This is not, by any means, a celebration of fertility: not when curvy, fertile women are maligned for being too fat. Nor is it a way of growing a closer connection with nature: not when women schedule their births via cesaerian section so that the birth won’t stretch their precious vaginas or interfere with a vacation. It isn’t even really a celebration of love and family when the focus is on social status.
I pity the fashionista children being born, because I suspect that they will live half lives of misery and disappointment after their mothers toss them away. There are lots of perfectly good reasons to have a baby, I’m sure, but I really don’t think fashion is one of them.
*Why yes, I do read trashy magazines in the bathtub. Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and this happens to be one of mine. At least I’m up front about it. And I always think it’s better to know the enemy: while most of the articles in magazines like this amuse me, others are also horrifying. Take, for example, the myriad of articles about second guessing the opposite sex, manipulating people into giving you want you want by using your body, and critiques of “fat” celebrities.