Celebrities having out-of-wedlock children changed social perceptions: Study

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New York, Oct 29 (IANS) Celebrity news reports on out-of-wedlock childbirths have contributed to change the concept of traditional American family in past four decades, finds a study.

“Celebrities typically did not apologise for getting pregnant outside of marriage. The early model dictated that you should marry by the time the baby is born. By the mid-2000s that had changed, and it became widely acceptable in the celebrity world to have a child without marrying first,” said Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, Assistant Professor at the University of Buffalo, in a statement.

According to the study, celebrity media coverage of out-of-wedlock childbirths can serve as an agent for social change — by de-stigmatising non-marital childbearing or transgenderism.

The researcher analysed nearly 400 cover stories dating from People’s magazine 1974 premier issue to the present to learn when the interest in celebrity pregnancies started and how the magazine’s presentation of family norms changed over time.

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“I used People magazine because it’s reputable in the sense that it doesn’t publish fictional stories; it has been in continuous circulation for over 40 years; and it remains one of the most widely circulating magazines in the country,” Grol-Prokopczyk added.

“Academics often scoff at celebrity news, but in fact there’s evidence that celebrity culture is enormously influential in changing norms and has a very wide reach,” the researcher added.

Beginning in the 1990s, the normative model began to change, and by the mid-2000s, People magazine regularly showed celebrity couples who didn’t marry by the time the baby was born.

These non-marital births were almost without exception presented as happy, morally unproblematic events.

“There aren’t many non-marital fertility stories in the 1970s, but when they do appear there’s almost always a promise that the parent will marry by the time the baby is born,” Grol-Prokopczyk added.

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