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Celebrity saints and sinners

By Allix Denham 

I was chatting to a friend the other day – a mother and grandmother – about a former colleague who’s never had children. “When will she settle down?” she asked. “She can’t keep having fun for ever.” I had to stifle a laugh.

My friend has served her time. She’s produced two children who’ve produced children of their own, and she’s now free to travel, play golf and meet her friends for shopping and lunch. She’s done her bit.

Our former colleague, on the other hand, is still in a high-powered job, paying her taxes, running charity marathons, dating, travelling and – shock, horror, “having fun”. How dare she?!

Just look at the comments in mainstream newspapers surrounding any female celebrity and it’s clear what readers want. A former wild child who marries and has babies will enjoy tremendous approval on message boards. “I love how she’s turned her life around,” readers gush. Or, “It’s great how she’s finally learnt what’s important in life.”

People coo and cluck over the Beckhams’ “beautiful family” and the Brangelina kids as they traipse through yet another airport arrivals hall. They might be young children, but that doesn’t stop devotees from analysing everything about them, from their clothing and hairstyles to their mannerisms and body language.

Never mind the long term effects this all might have on a young life – they’re packaged up and presented for readers’ entertainment, and that, apparently, is how it should be. Celebrity children are our children, the feeling seems to go. And if celebrities don’t do their bit and produce them, they’re letting us all down.

“Can’t wait to see their offspring” wrote one excited person recently following a story about George and Amal Clooney. “She’s pregnant! It’s going to be a beautiful baby!” gushed another at the merest hint of a tummy bump.

Amal Clooney might be an accomplished barrister, who represents falsely-imprisoned journalists, liaises with governments and lectures on human rights litigation, but apparently none of that amounts to very much until she’s given birth.

Actresses Cameron Diaz, now 43, and Jennifer Anniston, 46, are busy and successful non-mothers. With both having recently married, it’s fair to say that the tabloids, and their readers, will now be on bump watch, closely followed by adoption alert. Is it so wrong if they choose not to have children at all?

One celebrity mum who breaks all the rules is Kate Moss, whose partying ways invoke comments such as: “does she ever spend time with her daughter?”

Yet she is one of a handful of celebrities who request that newspapers pixelate out their children’s faces, a protective move that ensures fewer photographs and relative privacy. With no candid mother-and-daughter-at-airport type snaps for readers to examine and discuss, the media focus remains on Kate “having fun”.

So Amal, Cameron and Jennifer be warned. Should you have children, do the right thing and share them with the tabloids. Because you can’t keep “having fun” for ever, can you?

Allix Denham is a writer currently based in France. She and her partner have no children, but entertain the neighbour’s cat on a regular basis.

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