Pop Culture Decoder: Pregnancy

What to Expect When You're Expecting

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Misty Harris deciphers why society is obsessed with pregnant women

Pop Culture Decoder with Misty Harris


By Misty Harris

People love pregnancy news, which is perhaps why the tabloids are constantly making it up (a good rule is that even if “multiple sources” confirm a celebrity pregnancy, the story is not to be believed unless one of those sources is the woman’s pee stick). To observe this cultural obsession is to assume that having a baby is a kind of superpower – which, in a way, I suppose it is; pregnant women are like NFL players in their capacity to get away with almost anything.


As for why the intrigue prevails after all this time, well, that’s a question for this week’s Decoder. Let’s make like Amanda Bynes and jump into a breakdown:


Housing a human is badass: It’s impossible to overstate the awe factor of knowing that a living being is growing inside someone; just ask the producers of the Alien movies, who are probably still counting their money. Regardless of whether you’re a “baby person,” there’s no denying the coolness of a woman’s ability to create an entirely new human using only her body and a couple ingredients from around the house 😉 Pinterest, eat your heart out.


Get Out of Jail Free card: Movies such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Knocked Up suggest that pregnancy can be harder to endure than an E.L. James book. It’s no wonder, then, that pregnant women are cut so much slack – and for that we are all a bit jealous. From escaping a tedious event to falling asleep at one, the preggo basically has carte blanche to do what she wants. To wit, sex during the first and third trimesters is like going to Olive Garden: generally satisfying but there’s a long wait to get in: “Not tonight, dear, I’m pregnant.”


Katherine Heigl Leslie Mann

Knocked Up showed us that pregnancy isn’t as glamourous as the tabloids suggest (although it can do wonders for your boobs). UNIVERSAL PICTURES


O, the cuteness: Not everyone looks adorable with an extra 30 to 60 pounds on her; were that the case, Vogue would be bankrupt and fad diets would be as rare a sight as John Travolta’s real hairline. But when it comes to pregnancy, the additional heft somehow works. Between the Buddha belly and the accompanying waddle, pregnant women are like lovable cartoon characters you just want to squeeze (this is likely why so many people falsely assume it’s ok to treat a protruding stomach like Aladdin’s lamp).


Any excuse to judge: People LOVE to judge, and there’s no bigger target – often literally – than the beleaguered pregnant lady. Part of the problem is that pregnancy is plagued by a culture of fear, with outdated rules and generalizations swirling around the expectant mother like a dirt cloud on Pig-Pen. Hair dye will poison your unborn child! A cup of coffee will make you miscarry! Soft cheeses are from Hades! It’s a wonder maternity stores don’t have a special section for tinfoil hats.


Shared experience: If pregnancy is discussed with a reverence typically reserved for religious leaders and pumpkin-spice lattes, part of the reason is that people can relate. Anyone who’s experienced the thrill of welcoming a child into the world knows the magnitude of what a baby-bump really means, and thus gets a kick of nostalgia at the sight of one. It’s a democratizing biological phenomenon that puts your next-door neighbour on the same level as Kate Middleton or Angelina Jolie; we all get in the stirrups one foot at a time.


Misty Harris is the mother of a 15-month-old girl. She lives in Edmonton, where she’s currently working on a patent-pending line of ‘Keep Off’ signs for pregnant women’s tummies.



1 Reply to "Pop Culture Decoder: Pregnancy"

  • Misty Harris July 20, 2015 (3:26 pm)

    A commenter on Twitter remarked that this trivializes pregnancy. My response is that this is a humour column and meant to be light-hearted. Obviously pregnancy can be fraught with anxiety, loss, sorrow, struggle and all manner of other dark emotions that don’t really have a place in a piece like this. My heart goes out to every woman whose experience with pregnancy wasn’t positive. We’re all in this together, ladies. Let’s try to laugh about it when we can. Makes the bad stuff easier to handle.

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