Kiri Blakeley of Forbes writes,
Who could blame women for being awestruck at these celebrity moms who, somehow, manage to keep their children clean, well-behaved and fashionable, while they also maintain glamorous careers, travel the world, always look fabulous and well-toned, and, oh yeah, still keep a hot, successful husband (Brad Pitt! Tom Cruise!) happy? Who could blame regular women for beating themselves up for not living up to this ideal? After all, it looks so easy!
Except that, at least according to Beth Torre, spokeswoman for Celebrities Staffing Services, all celebs have nannies to help out with the kids. Yet stars rarely talk about their childrearing help (claiming, for instance, that they get all their exercise/detox/Kabbalah/whatever done "while their children nap") and even paparazzi don't photograph nannies (though eagle-eyed viewers can spot them in this Gawker slideshow). Blakeley decries this subterfuge — "female celebrities do women a huge disservice by going out of their way to mask these helping hands." She goes on,
[N]othing will make a parent feel more like a wretched failure than unrealistic expectations of parental perfection. And what could more fuel the fantasy of motherhood being glamorous and stress-free than celebrities with multiple children acting like they do it all themselves—and work and look amazing and have a sexy marriage?
The celebrity-industrial complex does deserve some blame for making middle-class moms feel that they should be effortlessly juggling work, family, and instantaneous loss of all baby weight. But what about the effects of what Gawker calls "Hide the Nanny" on actual nannies? They're the ones whose work is being treated as shameful, and whose images are studiously hidden from the press. This not only prevents them from getting the credit they deserve — while, as Blakeley points out, celebs routinely trumpet the names of their trainers to anyone who will listen — it also perpetuates the image of childcare work as illegitimate, undeserving of praise, and worthy of being kept in the shadows. This image is part of what allows people to keep paying their nannies under the table (a practice Mona Simpson rightly decries), and it also helps keep us from addressing all the many fraught issues surrounding paid childcare in America. These issues — economic, social, racial, gendered — need attention, but they're not going to get it while the most visible people in our society have the most invisible nannies.