Once taboo on TV, the baby bump has become an unreal stereotype

webnexttech | Once taboo on TV, the baby bump has become an unreal stereotype

The shift started slowly and quite a while back. Following its 1952 debut season, I Love Lucy’s star, Lucille Ball, discovered she was pregnant with her second child. At the time, US TV standards were governed by a code of practice that prohibited profanity, illicit sex and drug use, and stipulated that family life, God, religion and law-enforcement officials should be depicted in a positive light. On screen, married couples had to sleep in separate beds. Yet Lucy’s pregnancy suggested that comedy’s heroine and her husband, Ricky (played by Ball’s real-life husband, Desi Arnaz), had actually – shock, horror – had sex. Both the implication and the description of her condition alarmed the CBS network. After much discussion and scripts approved by a priest, a minister and a rabbi – that’s not a joke – the show used “expecting” and “with child”, and titled an episode Lucy is Enceinte, perhaps believing that the word sounded less confronting in French. Or that people mightn’t know what it meant. In more than a half century since Lucy was enceinte, as female characters have moved from supporting roles to playing protagonists, a broader and deeper perspective on what it means to be a woman has also developed. Female characters are now routinely seen juggling the demands of their careers and their personal relationships. We’re seeing working women, with bulging bellies, clocking on to do their jobs and bristling at offers of special treatment. These are not women inclined to cocoon in their homes, put their aching feet up and dreamily contemplate nursery decor. They’re determined to demonstrate that their brains work fine and their ambitions remain intact even as their bodies nurture new life.

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