If you’re scrolling through Netflix in the coming weeks, can I urge you not to be baited into watching Yummy Mummies, the outrageously ostentatious Australian reality TV show that follows the pregnancies and lives of four privileged white women?
Now in its second season, the show and its stars continue to pedal some particularly damaging tropes about woman – and motherhood.
In season two, the three returning cast members and long-term friends, Lorinska Merrington, Jane Scandizzo and Rachel Watts welcome new mummy Iva Marra to join the ‘most elite group of mothers in Melbourne’.
At her first morning tea with the group, four weeks after giving birth, Iva is quickly complimented for her appearance.
What then ensues is a lengthy discussion about sex after giving birth, with Lorinska admitting to worrying that her vagina stretched so much after the birth of her daughter the experience would be like ‘throwing a sausage down a hallway’.
Iva proudly counters, “I could barely get it in every time [before pregnancy]!”
All complimented Rachel for being a member of the ‘perfect pussy club’ – referring to her son’s birth via c-section as a means to maintain her sexual desirability rather than its medical necessity.
The obsession with ‘tight’ vaginas is another form of slut- and body-shaming specifically reserved for women. (Not to mention, this tightness during sex can be linked to either a lack of arousal or vaginismus.)
Writer Nicole Bedford argues that women’s ‘worth’ is often still predicated on her vaginal tightness:
‘Even now some memes circulate about the value of a woman based on her perceived tightness by the man that’s entering her vagina.’
As the season progresses, self-appointed sexual advisor Lorinska repeatedly calls for the other mothers to ‘put out’ to maintain their husband’s interest.
“You don’t want your fella running off with anyone else, so, guys, you need to be putting out.”
The women’s fear of ‘losing’ their sexual desirability is particularly concerning.
It again draws on the notion that women’s worth is down to their desirability and their primary objective – besides raising perfect, attractive children – is to appeal to the male gaze.
All four women are conventionally attractive and lean but are entirely fixated on thinness and beauty.
Lorinska and Rachel ask Jane for ‘diet tips’ when they see her poolside in a kimono four months after the birth of her second child.
Meanwhile, Iva laments about needing a ‘boob job’ just four weeks after giving birth.
An article on ScaryMommy suggests new mothers are one of the most targeted groups when it comes to weight-loss advertising, and, coincidentally, research finds that women’s body image plummets between one to nine months postpartum.
Georgie Dent recently wrote about an incident in a change room – while in the postpartum period – that got her thinking about our unwavering obsession with thinness that permeates the self-esteem of all women, including those of ‘socially acceptable size’.
Whether or not Lorinska, Jane, Rachel or Iva are cognisant of their roles as both victims and peddlers of diet culture, their public platform is being used to perpetuate deep-rooted and unfounded myths on health and body image.
The main premise of the show, however, centres on the gobsmacking wealth and privilege of each of the women.
Yummy Mummies’ emphasis on blatant consumerism makes for uncomfortable viewing, particularly against the backdrop of the worsening climate crisis.
In a statement published in BioScience, research by a group of scientists found that consumerism is accelerating environmental degradation:
“The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.”
Granted, it’s not nearly as extravagant as other reality TV shows, but their aspirations to have more money just to buy more things seems out of touch.
The first series saw Lorinska, Jane and Rachel all receive extravagant ‘push presents’ after giving birth to their children, in the form of a $99,000 rare diamond ring, a Range Rover and a Rolex respectively.
In series two, Iva is visibly angry when her push present arrives in a Louis Vuitton gift bag at her princess-themed ‘sip and see’ for daughter Milana.
“I gave [Stefan] three options [for designer handbags] and I have a wallet.”
She opens the wallet to find a $20,000 cheque and her mood instantly lifts.
Similarly, Lorinska expects a lavish gift for her three-year wedding anniversary.
She seems underwhelmed when her husband, Andrew, presents her with a leather travel bag and matching monogrammed luggage tags.
He then announces he’s taking the family on a trip around the world.
“Is it rude to ask, are we at the pointy end?” Lorinska enquires.
“Up the pointy end,” Andrew confirms.
Lorinska’s impressed. I am not.