Being a working mom is never easy. Between the mom guilt and work guilt, it can feel like you just can’t win. And if you work in a predominately male-run industry, the stress can be completely overwhelming. Megan Fox recently opened up about her experience as a mother and an actor in male-run Hollywood and boy does it sound familiar. It seems weird to feel sympathy for the rich and famous, but in this case, we really do.
In an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show, between cracking jokes about every day with her three sons, Bodhi, Journey, and Noah being like UFC Fight Night and doing a spot-on Britney Spears impression, the mom of three admitted that being a working mom in Hollywood is really “intense.”
“Hollywood is not adapted to women and us actually having lives and being moms,” Fox said. “It’s been a patriarchy for so long that the power has been in the hands of people who don’t understand and haven’t been made to understand. It makes sense that it’s played out this way.”
“I had to be on a TV show,” she said about her thoughts during one of her son’s births. “So in your brain, you’re delivering, and I’m like, ‘OK, well I’ve got to lose 30 pounds in eight weeks.’ Those things are really stressful, and you’re supposed to be bonding, and nurturing yourself, and nourishing your baby. That creates a lot of tension and a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety for us to go back to work too early.”
While Fox definitely has a ton of privilege that the rest of us don’t, the short maternity leave and pressure to return to work is definitely relatable for many parents. The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that provides exactly zero days of paid leave after the birth of a child. In contrast, Estonia, which ranks number one in the world for parental leave, provides new parents up to 80 weeks of leave at full pay.
“You don’t want to lose opportunities, and also, there is that thing in this industry of like, ‘Well, are you giving up? Are you just a mom now?'” she said. “There’s this weird pressure, which also then creates guilt.”
Clarkson could relate to this pressure as well.
“You go to work too soon to satisfy those people, and then you have the guilt of, ‘I shouldn’t have gone back this soon,'” Fox continued. “‘Now I’m a bad mom. My baby will always have this imprint on them. I’ve done something wrong.’ The stress from both sides is really intense. Shame, guilt, all those things.”
When Clarkson asked how Hollywood could better “adapt” to the fact that sometimes actors have the audacity to get pregnant and have kids, Fox said she didn’t have any answers but that it starts with women having more leadership roles in show business. “As more women rise up the ranks, and are in control and in power in Hollywood, then obviously those things will change.”
Which can be said for any industry really. More people in positions of power who understand the pressures of working while pregnant or raising a family would hopefully mean more meaningful decisions and policies going into effect in the workplace to provide for parents. We may never catch up to Estonia, but here’s hoping that the U.S. at least makes some progress toward improving the situation for working parents.
Childbirth is nothing like in the movies, as these beautiful photos show.