Family Matters

Jessica Simpson: Just Another Celeb Capitalizing on Her Pregnancy

Motherhood pays, at least for celebrities. But it can be particularly lucrative for those who may have fallen off the conventional Hollywood gravy train.

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Jessica Simpson had her baby on Tuesday, which means the new mom is now at least 9 lbs., 13 oz. closer to quieting the chatter about her pregnancy weight gain.

The actress/country singer/fashionista and her fiancé, former football star Eric Johnson, welcomed daughter Maxwell Drew in Los Angeles, reporting on Simpson’s blog that they were “elated” to meet their baby girl. “This has been the greatest experience of our lives!!”

(MORE: Jessica Simpson’s Pregnancy Weight: Why Everyone Has an Opinion)

Pregnancy, of course, is the easy part. Now the hard work begins — the round-the-clock feedings that blur one day into the next, the sleep deprivation. And the pressure to slim down seemingly overnight.

While plenty of observers took Simpson and her generous weight gain to task — one ob/gyn called her an “absolute porker” — she got backup from celebrity mom Tori Spelling, who urged critics to “lay off,” and Sarah Palin, who was so miffed she told Today’s Matt Lauer she “would have wanted to punch [naysayers] in the neck.”

But this isn’t merely about respect for maternity; it’s about money. Simpson — chunky or not — is a shrewd businesswoman. If for no other reason than her commercial chops, she’s got to kiss her hankering for buttered Pop Tarts goodbye: in December, Simpson reportedly inked a million-dollar deal with Weight Watchers to serve as a spokesperson post-pregnancy. The company is apparently giving her a year to drop her pregnancy pounds before it features her in a national ad campaign, according to Us Weekly.

(MOREHow Mom’s Weight Before Pregnancy Can Affect a Baby’s Brain)

Last month, in a piece about the sniping over Simpson’s weight, I wrote:

“Nine months on, nine months off” is the slogan pregnant women often hear about how long it will take them to slough the baby weight. In truth, Simpson will likely drop her excess pounds much quicker — if she cares to. Celebrities are renowned for losing their baby bulk seemingly before they even leave the hospital, with the help of teams of trainers and dietitians. If Simpson partakes in the same “low-fat fare” that actress-cum-natural-foods-guru Bethenny Frankel consumed after she gave birth in May 2010 — a muffin for breakfast (aren’t muffins typically dense with oil?) and BBQ chicken and half a sweet potato for dinner — she can kiss 35 pounds goodbye in two brief months! Frankel was featured in a photo link entitled “Jaw-dropping post-baby bodies” that was ironically inserted in the same Us Weekly post that featured Spelling and Palin telling Simpson critics to get lost.

(MOREIs There an Obesity Tipping Point in Infancy?)

Losing weight quickly is all about image, and image sells — even for B-list celebrities, a category in which Simpson lands squarely. It’s kind of hard to even remember why she’s famous. The New York Times notes that more than a decade has passed since her one and only Top 10 hit and goes on to put Simpson’s pregnancy notoriety in the same category as that of reality TV stars Tori Spelling and Frankel.

The Times makes the case that even pseudo-celebrities are suffering in this economic downturn. Thank God for uteruses. Without them, reality stars might be collecting unemployment. According to the Times:

…[F]or a growing number of underemployed actresses, singers and would-be entrepreneurs, parenthood has become a viable Plan B.

“Being a celebrity mom has more business opportunities than ever before,” said Peter Grossman, the photo editor of Us Weekly, where he has negotiated six-figure cover deals with many celebrities and their cuddly offspring. “Now, it’s not just about selling your baby pics. It’s starting a clothing line or endorsing a stroller. The value of a celebrity mom has never been higher.”

Bloggers at MommyTracked are incredulous:

You’ve heard about maternity discrimination, whereby women raising kids earn less than men, and less than women without kids, right? Ditto for the well-documented gender pay gap, whereby women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man does.

But the gender pay BUMP? Whereby pregnant women earn MORE than other women — and definitely far more than other men. At least more than men who can’t get pregnant… The only bad news is that the pay bump applies only to celebrity moms.

For now, here’s hoping Simpson gets to revel in new motherhood without taxing the well-documented and increasingly fuzzy “mommy brain” with intricate calculations of Weight Watchers points. Truth is, as long as people keep buzzing about her, she’s got nothing to lose.

MOREQ&A: Losing Weight Doesn’t Help Obese Girls Love Themselves — Can Parents?