Why Celebrity Infertility Matters

The October 11 edition of People magazine tells Bill and Giuliana Rancic’s story of infertility, IVF success, and the heartbreak of subsequent miscarriage.  The pair will discuss the ordeal and air footage of their experience when their reality show returns in a few weeks.

Why should you care?  How does that affect you at all?

Here’s what I think….

The story represents a paradigm shift for People, a social barometer for America.  Typically, the magazine’s stories reinforce the myth that celebrities conceive effortlessly – implying that those of us who don’t and can’t are somehow “less than.”  That false narrative causes pain and reinforces feelings of failure among many infertile couples.

This story invites readers to reconsider that perception.  By pulling back the curtain on their unfolding drama, Bill & Giuliana allow those who don’t understand infertility to witness its challenges, feel connected to a couple (and share their emotions) in the midst of the journey, and then pull for them as they make their way toward parenthood.  That’s not the typical “baby bump, baby joy” pablum – which is a long-overdue breakthrough for People.

It’s also a blessing for couples facing infertility.

How so?

The Rancic’s are educating the public by sharing their struggle.  They are creating awareness of the statistics, procedures, hopes and heartache we know so well.  The result will be a new level of public understanding, which paves the way for empathy.

By telling their story and allowing bystanders to witness its unfolding, they invite them to care.  That teaches readers and viewers that compassion is an appropriate response to a couple’s infertility battle.

By modeling honesty and openness, they are helping reduce the stigma of infertility that makes infertile couples feel isolated and apart from everything “normal.”  They have chosen to risk a negative response in the hope of receiving genuine support – which would help them (and could also help you).

Most importantly, they are revealing their fears, their doubts, their anger at God, and their realization that “God has a plan for us” – the messy, chaotic, emotional journey of infertility.  By enabling strangers to observe their progress as they move from uncertainty to joy to failure to renewed hope, they model one way to make room for God and to trust Him on this journey.

Bill & Giuliana honestly and fearlessly reveal the truths of their story, and their faith in the God who walks with them as they make their way toward parenthood.

Is any part of their public disclosure self-serving?  Undoubtedly.  They want viewers for their program, just like other celebrities do.  But, I feel confident this is not a ratings stunt they would have chosen.  They are using their visibility to do what few others have dared to, and that sets them apart in a powerful and meaningful way.

If nothing else, I believe we owe them our gratitude.

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Read 10 inspiring stories of non-celebrity couples who experienced infertility and are now parents in Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.  To order, click this link.

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Filed under Bystanders, Loss, Speaking Up

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