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Speak, Gisele Bündchen’s Breasts! Speak!

August 3rd, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Gisele is pro-breastfeeding.

Gisele is pro-breastfeeding.

Yes, indeed! Gisele Bundchen has come out heavily in favor of breastfeeding, and of course it’s made the news, because pretty much anything involving Gisele’s breasts is worth our collective time. [Ed. note: Not a joke.] To quote the interview, from Harper’s Bazaar by way of the HuffPo:

I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.

I am perfectly willing to write this off as a bit of ill-thought-out hyperbole that comes from a basically sound sentiment—”breastfeeding is a good healthy thing”—and I’m not going to bother to pick it apart. (Everyone? By law? Really? Women with mastectomies? Women working two jobs, 16 hours a day on a factory floor, to make ends meet? Ooookay.) But it does occasion a little discussion of the phenomenon of the obsessive coverage of celebrity pregnancy, which is just staggering these days. It seems to come out of the fantastically detailed coverage of starlets’ bodies. There is an entire industry, in print and on the Web, devoted to who’s eating, who should be eating, who’s bulking up, who’s flabby, and Scarlett Johansson, who is perpetually just right. (Sample blog here.)

Suddenly, with pregnancy,  those same starlets look different. Some get fat; some barely grow at all. Some eat; some smoke. The bodies change a bunch over a year or so. That gives the photos variation, which is good because they tend to get boring after a while if everyone stays within a eight-pound range.

But here’s what they all have in common: a storyline. I read those tabloids and Websites, more than any intelligent person should, because I enjoy them as literary constructions. (I also like pictures of Scarlett Johansson.) You can see, week to week, as the editors construct characters and storylines out of the raw material pulled from paparazzi photos and beefed up by publicists. LeAnn Rimes is a homewrecker. Octomom is a fameseeking nutbag. Gwyneth Paltrow is a snobby twit. The stories work best when they are relatable, and nothing’s more so than a family dispute over a future spouse, which is why Kourtney Kardashian’s boyfriend has become pigeonholed as a shitheel cad. (Apparently he’s also snooty, which, in tabloidland, is worse than being a murderer.) And then come babies! One actress can’t conceive. Another one can, a little too often. Yet another is dying to have a baby, but can’t find the right guy. There you’ve got three more super-relatable narratives, right there.

This is essentially soap opera—and if you’ll notice, soap operas are dying, and I think this is why. Celebrity coverage is better, if more potentially toxic to the culture. I couldn’t write it—I’m not enough of a novelist. If you take it all together, a century from now, I wonder whether five years of Us Weekly will be equivalent, as a social document, to a fairly serious-minded middlebrow work of literature. It’s not rich enough to be the new Tolstoy, but it might squeak by as the new, I don’t know, James Michener. I hope I am wrong, but I think I am right.

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