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Pregnant? Put Down the Celebrity Gossip Magazine and Walk Away Slowly

Why are we obsessed with celebrity pregnancy?Interesting news for celebrity bump watchers: turns out if you’re pregnant and continue a fascination over a celebrity pregnancy, there could be some serious health repercussions.

Studies have found there is a link between celebrity worship and depression, anxiety, stress, and a decrease in overall life satisfaction.

So why do we keep picking up the magazines or clicking through the web, enjoying information about our favorite celebrities? I’m not immune to this pastime. I absolutely love reading a great story about an actor or musician. I love to hear about their family life, see a glimpse inside their home, find out what their favorite snack is.

For a brief moment, a celebrity is someone just like me.

But at what point does having a passing interest in a celebrity’s life go from curiosity to obsession? Dr. John Grohol shares on Psych Central, “When people look at celebrities as actual role models, or people whom they would like to model their lives after, that’s when I think it’s taking things a little bit too far.”

In a brilliant article in Psychology Today, Carlin Flora explains:

“It’s easy to blame the media for this cognitive whiplash. But the real celebrity spinmeister is our own mind, which tricks us into believing the stars are our lovers and our social intimates. Celebrity culture plays to all of our innate tendencies: We’re built to view anyone we recognize as an acquaintance ripe for gossip or for romance.”

That’s what it is. Celebrities are being presented to us in such familial and casual ways we start to feel like we actually do know them. We follow celebs on social media, watch them on a reality show; reading about them within a magazine becomes like reading about a friend. We start to place the celeb into the friend box and when that happens, the comparisons start to take off in full force.

Jayne Krisjanous, a marketing professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, studied the portrayal of pregnant celebrities and their influence on prenatal attachment. Her findings have been published in the recent journal of Psychology & Marketing.

The study included 478 pregnant women and then looked specifically at the women who indicated they were interested in celebrity pregnancies. Krisjanous found that the pregnant women who were the most interested in a celebrity pregnancy were more likely to stress about the weight they were gaining.

The Science of Us elaborates, “Krisjanous was also curious what impact this might have on these women’s feelings toward the pregnancy in general. In short: It wasn’t great. These women also reported lower prenatal attachment, something she defined as ‘the feelings of attachment or love a mother feels for her developing baby during a pregnancy.’

How do you know if you’ve crossed the line with your favorite celebrity? Let’s take a little quiz:

1. Do you know the celebrity’s full (or real) name?
2. Do you know what part of town the celebrity lives in?
3. Do you know the names and ages of the celebrity’s children?
4. Do you know events the celebrity has attended this month?
5. Have you purchased something because of the celebrity?

If you answered yes to more than one of those questions, it might be time to take a step back. Think about your closest circle of friends: Can you answer these questions about them?

What a celebrity puts out into the world is still part of their job. It’s part of their persona. They have a team of people who have jobs dedicated to helping them look great in public. Celebs not only have chefs and trainers and nannies, they also have public relation experts coaching them on how to walk through an airport and how to speak to fans on the red carpet. Chances are what you’re seeing in “just like us” photos is still a character who has been artfully staged.

I have to remind myself of this often when I see a cover story about a celebrity who’s had dramatic weight loss. The headline tells me the celeb is a success because of diet and exercise, and part of my brain raises a self-esteem flag of doom. Why doesn’t diet and exercise work so swiftly for me?!

I know why — even as I am looking at the cover of the magazine, I know. For many celebrities being a certain size is directly connected to their livelihood. The larger you are, the less chance you have at playing the leading lady. Dropping weight becomes a job. A celebrity has access to around-the-clock childcare, around-the-clock fitness experts, and around-the-clock chefs. Of course their results will be swifter and more dramatic!

Trista Sutter was pregnant at the same time I was, and she was often on the cover of magazines looking amazing. She was also quickly on the cover a few months after having her baby with “Trista Sutter’s 5 Tips for a Hot Body After 2 Babies!”

My body looked nothing like hers before I was pregnant so I never expected it to look like hers while I was pregnant, but wow if I didn’t shame myself a bit for not getting a “hot body” so soon after birth.

So maybe it’s not such a bad idea to consider taking a break from reading about celebrity pregnancies while you’re pregnant. However, it’s a pretty great time to pick up one of your favorite books. Studies have shown reading a book aloud while pregnant is not only good for moms but good for the fetus who benefits from your relaxed energy and sense of calm. Maybe it’s also a good time to pick up the phone and connect with our friends at the same level we’ve been attempting to connect with celebrities.

Image Credit: PCN Photos

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