Last night I had dinner with friends, and instead of chatting about our own kids, we discussed other people’s babies—celebrity babies, to be exact. We analyzed whether Shiloh, Maddox, Pax, and Zahara will even notice that they have two other siblings, questioned why Nicole named her baby Sunday when she was born on a Tuesday, and wondered if Suri is allowed to bounce on the couch. Then we argued Britney’s readiness to step up as a parent and Denise Richards’ morals in surrounding her kids with cameras, and discussed whether Madonna should adopt another baby.
I’ve always (guiltily) enjoyed a little celebrity escapism—usually of the bad celeb mug shot, rehab relapse, or Hollywood-homewreck variety—but when I heard myself suggesting a Hollywood Playgrounds reality show over dessert, I realized that lately, the babies of celebrities have become a bigger draw for me than their superstar parents.
If the reaction of my friends, the recent proliferation of baby- and baby bump–obsessed sites, and the magazine industry’s “first-photo” bidding wars are anything to go by, I’m not the only one gone gaga for gestating celebs or their famous spawn. Why are we so obsessed?
Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt
Twins are always a spectacle, but the twins of two of the most watched people in the world are, well … twice as appealing. When Jack Black let the two cats out of the bag that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were expecting twins, the magazine industry saw dollar signs—an “it” baby can produce a 40 percent uplift in sales, imagine what two “its” would do for sales. I, on the other hand, saw question marks. How in the name of God does this couple—with their busy careers, philanthropic efforts, and four kids—still manage to have sex, never mind babies? (If I were an honest person, I’d also admit that I’m eager to check out the multi-million dollar babies just so I can say they’re not that cute.)
Sunday Rose Kidman Urban
Pregnancy is usually the great equalizer: celebrities get big butts, swollen ankles, and puffy faces just like the rest of us. Nicole Kidman is not like the rest of us though—I’ve looked more pregnant after a burrito lunch. Despite feelings of inadequacy over her elegant pregnancy (and the fact that she will be yet another celeb to bounce back from baby—ugh!), pics of Sunday Rose give us warm fuzzy feelings for a few reasons:
1. At forty-one, Nicole Kidman represents a growing demographic of women choosing to have kids over the age of forty. She also had a few miscarriages so we’re happy for her.
2. There’s a good chance that Sunday will be introduced to a Beckham boy (via stepsis Suri) and that they will fall in love.
3. We want to see pics of Nicole holding her bundle of joy so that we can get a gander at her $73,000 Cartier ring baby gift from hubby Keith Urban.
Most people are obsessed by Suri Cruise because they think her mom is brainwashed and her dad should be brained. Others look at Suri still being on a bottle and feel smug about their own cup-holding kiddies. I’m just jealous—Suri has a better wardrobe at two than I will ever have.
Violet’s celeb-baby stock just went up now that rumors have been confirmed that she’s going to be a big sister. To date, the cute little product of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s partnering has had little warmth from the spotlight thanks to paparazzi-hogs Shiloh and Suri. I look at Violet and I see the kid next door—whose dad used to date JLo—and while I can just go next door to see the kid next door, I don’t. I don’t because cute, rich, normal Violet gives us hope—and allows us to say “awww” in a world that more often makes us feel “ugh.”
Nahla Ariela Aubry
When beautiful people mate and procreate, they become our frenemies. It’s true. They have achieved too much and we begrudge them their beautiful babes. Out of frenvy, we watch their beautiful new family obsessively, hoping to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Nahla so that we can descend into complete bitterness and hope to catch Halle trying to calm cowlick—or even better colic—and looking a little sleep-deprived. Then we feel guilty for having uncharitable thoughts about an Academy Award winner and we vehemently defend Halle’s choice to name her offspring after one of the lions in the Lion King.
If Gwen Stefani was my mother, I’d be cool too. I mean, my mother’s pretty cool and all, and no other mother in my third-grade class vacuumed to Bat out of Hell, but there’s no doubt that soon-to-be-big-bro Kingston—of certified cool parents Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale—is setting a new standard for cool, with Hollywood tots—and hotshots—looking to him for style cues. The kid’s the man, though hopefully the pressure to be constantly cool (I feel his pain) will ease when mom pops her latest style accessory.
Sean Preston and Jaden James Federline
I used to feel awful about the fact that I took my son home from the hospital in a forward-facing carseat until Britney was caught for the same parent crime and then photographed driving on a Malibu highway with Sean on her lap. The media yelled, “How could she?” I thought, “Well, at least I’m not that bad.” Usually we feel like failures in comparison to celebrities … but we feel human with Brit. (Okay, we feel a little smug and superior too.)
Harlow Winter Kate Madden
Daughter to not-so-Simple Life “star” Nicole Richie and Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden, Harlow Winter was most famous for putting a little meat on her famously stick-thin mom. The child’s delivery and first photos were perversely much anticipated as it was half-expected the baby would be born screaming for food. But as grandpa Lionel would say, “Hello, I’ve just got to let you know” she was a bouncing baby. She’s high on celeb baby-watch mostly because it is quite possible that Nicole’s frenemy, Paris, will try to steal Harlow for her new reality show about finding a new and cool BFF.
Maximilian David and Emme Maribel Muniz
Jennifer Lopez and hubby Marc Anthony were reportedly paid $6 million for the highly stylized first pictures of their twins, Max and Emme. I would begrudge them the big bucks but for the fact that the birth cost them $1.4 million (according to InTouch magazine), and well, that only leaves a few million to keep the diva’s darlings clothed (in cashmere) and fed (mashed caviar). Some people are interested in the precious babes just so they can knock Jenny off her block for her lavish love; I’m just interested in seeing if Emme got mom’s butt and if Max got dad’s … um, lack of butt.
It makes some people feel better to say they are celebri-baby-obsessed because they just love babies. I love babies too, but I also love sidetracking a perfectly unshallow (read: depressing) conversation about war, the economy, and global warming with celebri-baby trivia like—Name the Mayor of Nice who signed the Jolie-Pitt twins’ birth certs.” Sure, I have bigger things to worry about … but maybe that’s the point.