People are desperate to know how Cameron Diaz’s baby was born. But why do we care so much? Digital writer Hollie Richardson argues that Diaz has absolutely no obligation to share any details.
Women’s bodies should not be up for public debate, and yet we still constantly hear body-shaming stories. Just yesterday (9 January), Jameela Jamil had to call out body-shaming against Lizzo. Actor Emily Atack has also spent way too much of her time dealing with body-shamers on Twitter. And model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley recently opened up about the time she was faced with “ruined body” headlines after she gave birth.
That last example brings our focus to women’s fertility.
For some reason, people feel even more entitled to know everything about a woman’s reproductive organs. In the last few months alone, Halsey felt compelled to explain that her belly bloat was down to a gluten allergy. A tweet about Taylor Swift’s fertility, suggesting she’s “leaving it too late” also went viral. And people were convinced Meghan Markle was pregnant simply because she touched her tummy at an event.
Even if a famous woman doesn’t have a child, her womb is still up for discussion. In fact, it could be argued that their reproductive organs are shoved and probed under the tabloid microscope even more. You just need to look at the “poor Kylie Minogue and Jennifer Aniston” trope for indisputable proof of this.
So when it comes to a woman over 40 having a baby, the world becomes obsessed. Did she use IVF? How long had she been trying for? Who is the father? Is it a “miracle” baby? When it was announced that Chloe Sevigny is pregnant with her first child this week, her age (45) was the focus of most headlines. And after Cameron Diaz shared her own baby news, people wanted to know more details.
Source-led stories have now been run by tabloids, suggesting that Diaz and her husband Benji Madden conceived through surrogacy, after trying to get pregnant using IVF treatment. One newspaper responded to this with the headline: “Why can’t stars like Cameron Diaz admit having a baby in your 40s is usually down to a test tube?” It goes on to say Diaz is at the “ripe old age of 47” before arguing why she needs to be more transparent about how she became pregnant. It ends by saying: “Not being truthful about this aspect of being a woman is utterly selfish.”
The fact that the writer has been through IVF herself obviously shouldn’t be ignored. Of course it’s sometimes helpful, and often comforting, to hear about celebrities going through the same realities of life as us mere mortals. And IVF is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about more. How To Fail author and podcaster Elizabeth Day recently discussed the loneliness that comes with IVF. She also talked about how the language used – mostly by male experts – is designed to make women feel like failures for not being able to naturally conceive.
And this stigma should definitely not exist, not in 2020. Because IVF is the most common fertility treatment for people who are unable to conceive naturally. According to a government report, there were over 1 million IVF treatment cycles in the UK between 1991-2016. And between 2014-2016, IVF treatment cycles increased by 39%. The quarter-of-a-millionth UK child was born as a result of fertility treatment in 2015.
Yes women should feel confident in being able to talk about fertility, but this is different to saying they have to.
Just this morning, actor Amy Schumer shared her own ongoing IVF experience with a photo of her bruised belly on Instagram. “I’m a week into IVF and feeling really run down and emotional,” she wrote. “If anyone went through it and if you have any advice or wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with me please do. My number is in my bio. We are freezing my eggs and figuring out what to do to give Gene a sibling.”
Women immediately started to share their own experiences and applauded Schumer for being real about pregnancy and IVF. But the difference is that Schumer wants to talk about her fertility, while Diaz doesn’t. And both women are entitled to do what the hell they want.
The whole point is that women have choices about their bodies, their decisions and their children. Expecting them to publicly talk about the biggest physical and emotional thing that will ever happen to them only feeds into the disturbing and outdated narrative that women need to explain their bodies. They absolutely do not.