Pregnant with the Stars
Watching and Wanting the Celebrity Baby Bump
Renée Ann Cramer


Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: Obsession with the Celebrity Bump
chapter abstract

This chapter explains why it is important to understand contemporary interest in the celebrity baby bump, and situates that interest within the law and society literature. The chapter argues that by compelling us to "watch" and to "want," media coverage of the pregnant celebrity body becomes an interpretive lens through which to view the twin pillars of the state in late neoliberalism: an expansion of technologies of governance through proxies that enable state- and self-regulation, and totalizing commodification via global capitalism. The chapter explains the feminist, sociolegal, and interpretive approach taken in the research and provides a narrative of the author's interaction with the topic.

1 Law, Popular Culture, and Pregnancy in America
chapter abstract

Using the famous Demi Moore cover for Vanity Fair as a frame of reference, this chapter traces the changing ways that law and popular culture have treated pregnancy, from the 1970s to the contemporary period. It examines jurisprudence relating to pregnancy and pregnancy discrimination, as well as abortion and birth control, to argue that women have achieved a measure of equality under the law – while being constructed as more responsible for the outcomes of their pregnancy than ever before. The chapter simultaneously examines televised and filmic representations of pregnancy in the popular culture – from I Love Lucy to Murphy Brown to Friends to demonstrate an increasing comfort with pregnant women in the public eye.

2 Celebrity Bumps, Boobs, and Booties
chapter abstract

This chapter examines media coverage of celebrity pregnancies to analyze the normative and idealized views of femininity in evidence in them. It argues that the media offers a limited range of possibilities for pregnant women: they can be "good girls," "bad girls (and those redeemed by motherhood," "hot, sexy mamas," and "yummy mummies." In all of these possibilities it is clear that dominant norms of race, class, and femininity are driving the media representations of these stars.

3 Wanting the Bump
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the commodification of pregnancy, and all things pregnancy related, through media coverage of celebrity pregnancies. It argues that when women are told to want the pregnant celebrity body, they are confronted by the objectification of that body and multiple modes of commodification: of pregnancy, of the child itself – or at least its image, and of the "rockin' beach-worthy post-baby body." And, even as women are confounded by our inability to attain what they are told is perfection, they are provided strategies and products that promise rescue, for a cost.

4 Surveilling the Stars
chapter abstract

This chapter argues that when women watch the pregnant celebrity, they are encouraged, to surveil, to gossip, and to judge. Ultimately, they are enlisted in the regulation of the bodies of all pregnant women, even as women are called on to accept and internalize their own regulation. The medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth necessitates high levels of surveillance during gestation and birth, and facilitates an intimate, but mediated, relationship between the woman and the fetus. The chapter argues that as women judge and regulate the bodies of pregnant celebrities, they are simultaneously accepting and internalizing the very same regulations of themselves.

5 Governing the Body through the Bump
chapter abstract

This chapter investigates the various moments and places where governance occurs of pregnant women. It shows that the state, through legislation and jurisprudence, plays an active role in constraining women's choices about and during pregnancy, and looks at very recent bills and laws that limit women's power. It also argues that the state engages proxies: corporations, media, and average people on the street – to govern pregnant women in the most mundane and daily ways imaginable.

6 Rebel Renderings and a Micro-politics of Inscrutability
chapter abstract

This chapter examines spaces of hope – coverage of celebrity pregnancies that deviate from the norm. It argues that coverage of the pregnancies and pregnant performances of M.I.A., Pink, and Christina Aguilera highlight "bold bumps" that envision motherhood in rebellious ways. The chapter also includes a discussion of surrogacy, lesbian-headed households, and single mothers, and argues that they disrupt patriarchal assumptions of mothering and pregnancy. The chapter closes with a look at the pregnancy of Mila Kunis, about whom the press was unable to write a coherent narrative, and whose performances of pregnancy remained inscrutable. Drawing on work by James Scott and Boaventura de souse Santos, the chapter argues that emancipation and liberation are achieved through small, inscrutable daily practices of living under the radar of the watching state and its proxies.