What to Expect When You're Watching Pregnant in Heels

Bravo's latest reality series, Pregnant in Heels, follows clothing designer and "Pregnancy Concierge" (which basically means just what you think it means: doing stuff for pregnant people) Rosie Pope as she deals with clients whom she's dubbed "million dollar moms." Only one episode of the show has aired so far, but it's already being billed as showcasing the "bitchiest" women ever while they're at their hormone-fueled worst. Call me a bleeding-heart, reality-television-loving apologist if you must, but after watching the pilot episode I think some of that snark is missing the point.

Rosie Pope with her assistants
Also missing the point: Doesn't Rosie look just like Madeline Kahn?

First, a quick recap of the episode. We see Rosie (and, to a lesser extent, her two assistants Hannah and LT) visit two clients: Sarah, a web entrepreneur who isn't ready for her baby; and Samantha, a bestselling author who can't decide what to name the third child she's expecting. A level of ridiculousness that can only come with wealth abounds: A think tank and a focus group are employed to come up with a "brand" for Samantha's fetus, and Sarah and her husband refuse to buy anything that looks too "babyish" for theirs (eventually they grudgingly consent to a Marimekko rocking chair—at least it's designer). By the end of the episode, London-born Pope is able to use her Mary Poppins accent (I have a theory that rich women in the US will take orders more readily from a Brit because of Ms. Poppins), her undeniable charisma, and her obvious expertise to "solve" these issues—a follow-up reveals that Samantha and her husband name their baby "Bowen" (ignoring the advice of the think tank and focus group, natch) and Sarah and her husband appear to be thrilled to have newborn Fox in their lives, baby toys and all.

While the snark flows understandably easily when women are shown uttering phrases like, "Rosie can help us marshal the resources to put together the perfect baby" (Samantha), and, "Wearing four-inch heels, nine months pregnant, it's really hard," (Sarah)—because, hello, a perfect baby is impossible and just take off the heels already—underneath it all this show is about more than just schadenfreude. It's about the anxiety and fear felt by many pregnant women, compounded by the pressure put on women to "have it all," including a perfect pregnancy and flawless baby.

Sure, the women who hire Rosie are quite wealthy, and they're able to spend buttloads of cash on things like a designer nursery and a consultation with a "branding" expert that the vast majority of parents wouldn't even consider. The reasons they do so, though, have more to do with fear and worry (a psychiatrist Rosie hires even has a breakthrough with Sarah about her high level of anxiety) than social climbing. Yes, a focus group to help name your baby is beyond ridiculous, but isn't this type of aspirational pregnancy culture popular because many women—and not just exceedingly wealthy women, either—feel pressure to be perfect pregnant ladies?

To me, the women of Pregnant in Heels don't appear to be simply "hormonal bitches" (though they may be awful people in real life; I have no idea), they're pregnant women under extreme amounts of pressure who are using money to try and feel better. While throwing money at emotional/personal problems doesn't usually help in the long run, this type of framing is nothing new on reality TV, especially reality TV that focuses on women like wedding and makeover shows (don't trust yourself, women! Hire experts to help you spend your money because you don't know what's best for you!). Writing these women off as "bitchy" and "hormonal" and "the worst evar" just ignores the fact that societal expectations for pregnant women and mothers are sky-high and unrealistic.

I'm not sure whether Pregnant in Heels will take off considering the massive number of reality shows that premiered last week, but if it does, I hope some of the "look at that rich bitch" voyeurism dies down and a "what's up with our cultural attitudes surrounding pregnancy?" response emerges. Until then, expect to see a lot more pregnant women in heels.

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Comments

11 comments have been made. Post a comment.

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Do you really think these women PAID for these services?! It is reality TV!

Fair enough

I don't know whether or not these women paid for the services (the show made me think that they did, but you're right that it's just as likely that Bravo footed the bill) but Rosie Pope has made a career out of working with many wealthy women who do in fact pay quite a bit for similar services.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Probably got comped

If it follows the Bravo format, then the clients who appear on the show got their services comped by Bravo. This is how their other service-to-the-stars show, Millionaire Matchmaker, works, even though Patti Stenger actually does have a career as a matchmaker (whole different topic here).

Good points, but...

I find it somewhat infantilizing to let the people on this show off the hook for doing foolish and irresponsible things because of the stress of societal pressures (I'm implicating the dads here, too, and really everyone who participates, just to be clear).

Pregnancy and motherhood are absolutely stressful, and I have great respect for anyone who can give of herself in that way. But "branding" (i.e. commodifying, or making into a product) one's baby or rejecting necessary infant care supplies because they are too "babyish" due to style preferences have the potential to be really damaging to the kids who grow up in these contexts, and if people who aren't ridiculously wealthy can somehow refrain from losing all free will in the face of societal pressures surrounding pregnancy, then these parents, who have MUCH greater access to things like mental health care, child care, and other support networks, are perfectly capable of doing the same. It's always important to factor in sky-high social expectations, but there's something to be said for expecting people to take at least some responsibility for their actions. It's clear that what these families' incredible wealth has bought them is the "right" to turn a blind eye to their unhealthy choices and throw money at whatever makes them uncomfortable.

Are these women evil? No. Are they the worst thing to happen to feminism? Of course not. But by failing to hold them at least a little bit accountable for the foolishness of their actions, we imply that any person in a marginalized group has free license to be, frankly, a total jerk due to societal pressures. And let's not forget, the argument that women are incapable of taking thoughtful responsibility for their actions was precisely the argument used to bar us from voting, controlling our reproductive health, seeking financial independence, the right to medical confidentiality, filling countless leadership positions in nearly every sector, deciding whom and whether to marry…you name it.

We all have free will, and some of us face more barriers – whether material, sociocultural, or some combination thereof – to exercising that free will. That does not under any circumstances excuse us from trying to do so. We should absolutely work to address the societal pressures you talk about. But meanwhile, why even bother giving rubbish like Pregnant in Heels an audience?

Oh totally

Thanks for your comments, Diana! You're absolutely right that these women shouldn't be off the hook for their behavior, and I didn't mean to imply that I feel that way. My post was more in reaction to the other "OMG these women are horrible bitches" reviews that I read of the show—I think we can all agree it's more complicated than that.

However, I totally agree with you that the actions of the pregnant women and their husbands in the pilot episode were outrageous and I certainly don't envy little "Bowen" and "Fox" at all (how would you like to watch a video of your parents focus-grouping your name? Ugh).

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Flawless baby

That phrase made me throw up a little. Not your wording, just the fact that it made any sense in my brain, and someone would strive for it. Is this race for perfection bubble going to burst anytime soon?

Relax! It's Escapism for Modern Moms

As a new mother of a ten-week-old baby, I think this show will work well as a fun piece of escapism for parents like me. My partner and I have had several conversations about how ridiculous it is that baby items are designed to be "babyish" when we're the ones looking at them, not our child, who couldn't care less that his bouncy chair has farm animals on it. We aren't putting our child in a bad position or screwing up our priorities because we don't want the bouncy chair sitting out when people come over; we're just modern people who are aware of aesthetics. Taken to the extreme -- and out of context of real life -- would we appear like Sarah, too? Probably. The show takes this situation, pads it with wealth, edits out the real life stuff to make a fun "reality" show. I'll keep watching, at least casually.

UGH!

I watched the show and I can't believe the couple who thought everything was too "baby". I totally agree that they are scared to look like 'normal' parents and feel the need to keep up with their image of being modern and wealthy and the soon-to-be mom feels the pressure, whether she realizes it or not, of being a great mom while still retaining her image. It is so sad that they didn't want the baby to have colorful things because of their (both parents) selfish love for aesthetics. The therapist hits home when he says this is all stemmed from her anxiety, and I think you are completely right. I mean even now I am criticizing her for not wanting to be all goo goo ga ga, so basically pregnant woman can't win. Too much pressure!

I finally got around to

I finally got around to reading this. I saw you tweet this out a bit ago, but held off, only b/c I really didn't want to watch the show and wanted nothing to do with it. A few nights ago I caught 10 minutes of a rerun and sigh...

My main concern is that shows like these, while escapism and fantasy for many, also can be ideals that some strive for, and really - should we be striving to heights like using think tanks and focus groups to name our children?

I'm sure this show and the people profiled in it are symptomatic of a larger problem that you won't see tackled via Bravo or "reality" TV in general. At the most - maybe it gets people talking but at the worst I fear it spreads inaccuracies, fallacies and fears that are already rampant about pregnancy/birth.

I've already made myself promise not to watch any other episodes of this show, but I'm sure I'll succumb again (but mostly in a can't turn away from the car wreck way)

UPDATE!

I've been watching the show (I've DVR'd it, ha!) and I have to say it's become more and more "human" is it progresses. Rosie, the pregnancy concierge or whatever she calls herself, deals with fertility problems personally - problems which may speak to a lot of women. Even though some of Rosie's clients are over the top and perhaps insane (lolz), Rosie herself and some of her more "together" clients represent an oft-taboo topic in mainstream TV - fertility and the stressful issues that go along with it. Rosie is also extremely patient and kind to her nutty clients, who many people would want to slap. I know Rosie is paid to help them but she does seem to really care about other women, even "bitchy" ones. And that's another thing not shown in "reality" television - 3 dimensional women being kind to other women.

You're Falling For This?

Who invites a camera crew and agrees to be put on national television when they're under all this pressure you refer to?

This is just a show about narcissists having babies.

Enjoy!