Dear Gwen Stefani- Your Joke Sucked
I get it, April Fools jokes can be tough to think up. You don't want to go too hardcore, then people get hurt. You don't want to be too soft, then it's not funny. I'm sure you thought, "I know something harmless and shocking! I'll announce that I'm pregnant!"
I doubt you realized that a fake pregnancy announcement is neither harmless nor funny. So... your joke kinda sucked.
A lot of people have trouble understanding why fake pregnancy announcements are hurtful. Those are usually the people who haven't dealt firsthand with infertility and pregnancy loss.
As a passionate advocate for shattering the stigma surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth and infertility, I believe that education is the path to change.
It's not helpful to shame you for your tactless joke and call you names. It doesn't help you learn what you did wrong, and it does nothing to raise awareness around the issue.
So here's why your April Fools joke fell flat.
When a woman is going through infertility, it's downright hard to log on to social media because it's raining babies up in there. Most women between the ages of 22-35 can't go a day without a positive pee stick, an ultrasound or a squishy baby starting them in the face.
If you're trying harder to have a baby than you've ever tried for anything else, that stings. It hurts to see everyone else with the one thing you desire the most, and you don't know if they struggled for it, too.
Plenty of women decide to check out of social media entirely, because it can actually be too painful to see those images.
If you think those women are few and far between, you're mistaken. Don't worry, you're in good company, because most Americans don't realize how common infertility is. The truth is it affects 1 in 8 couples, which means it's someone you know.
Not likely someone you know- it is someone you know. Most couples suffer in silence as they go through round after round of IVF or timed sex, thanks to cultural taboos.
When you frivolously post an ultrasound picture, that alone is a mental sting to some women. Finding out it's a joke, that it's something you thought was so trivial it would be funny, is downright insulting.
It says that you find the idea of pregnancy so lighthearted, that it's funny. It's an idea you feel comfortable just throwing around like a toy, and snatching it back for a laugh with your followers.
Except this year people are rising up to say it's not funny.
More and more people are deciding they don't need to suffer in silence, and are standing up to these small insults.
So Gwen, maybe next year pick up a whoopie cushion. Make some fake fried chicken out of brownies and cornflakes (I saw a pretty sweet video on how to do it today).
But next year, please remember that it's a day for jokes that are funny--not jokes that hurt people.
Ann Zamudio is the Director of Don't Talk About the Baby, the first documentary to explore the cultural stigmas surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth and infertility. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and PALS. Join the movement and help make a movie here.