Carrie Bickmore on THAT baby question
LAST month this very magazine made a firm decision. "We will no longer ask women being interviewed for Stellar if they are intending to have children and about their baby plans," declared the official tweet.
"Welcome to the 21st century," I saw someone comment.
The reasons for such a stance are compelling: to help curb the prejudice some women face when they choose to be child-free, and to show sensitivity towards couples struggling with pregnancy loss or infertility.
Feels like some pretty rock-solid reasons. But when discussing the move with friends at brunch, they weren't so convinced. "Isn't it good when high-profile celebs share their struggles around fertility? It normalises it for the rest of us."
Another friend grumped: "They've agreed to being interviewed; surely you can ask them about something as banal as having children. You won't be able to ask them anything soon!" He hadn't had his morning coffee yet.
As a woman who has been on both sides of this dilemma, I was conflicted. As the interviewer, I have noticed firsthand how much comfort people gain from hearing about the imperfections of celebrity lives. If they can't nail the "happily ever after" then maybe it's not so bad I can't either.
However, I also know how difficult it is to dismiss or laugh off a seemingly "banal" question about "having another baby" just weeks after suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage.
Eventually I was OK to talk about it publicly. I wanted to share my journey, hoping it might help other women. But on my terms. When I felt ready.
A pregnant Jennifer Hawkins graced the cover of this mag a couple of months back discussing her tough road to motherhood due to severe endometriosis.
"It seemed like a lifetime as month after month people constantly asked when we were going to have a baby," she revealed.
I couldn't count the times I've heard people discuss Jen's baby plans. Often it's mere curiosity, but also it's unsolicited judgement from strangers, with no appreciation for the private pain she was enduring.
Of course, there's the other obvious observation. Men are not asked about their fertility plans nearly as often as women are. Interviews with successful men are often centred around their work, rarely their baby-making plans.
But is that the solution? I don't think restricting interviews to someone's professional life is the answer. Humans are naturally inquisitive. We are interested in the lives of those we care about. It helps us cross-reference our own lives, and makes us feel like we are connected to the tribe.
Sure, sometimes we ask a friend about their baby plans simply to start a conversation but more often it's out of solidarity. We are hard-wired to a certain degree to concern ourselves with who is replicating and why.
Stellar will still talk babies with celebs, but with sensitivity. Maybe it's worth taking a leaf out of the magazine in our own lives when chatting with family and friends.
Perhaps we can still ask the question, just remove the word baby from it.
"What are your plans for the next few years?" and allow someone to answer as they see fit. Baby or no baby.
Carrie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm weeknights on Network 10, and Carrie & Tommy, 3pm weekdays on the Hit Network.