Back in July, several media outlets ran a story about Hollywood parents Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, suggesting Biel gave birth to the couple’s second child after a secret pregnancy.
The A-list couple chose not to comment on the pregnancy or birth, but now the news has been confirmed: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are parents of two as a new baby has joined 5-year-old Silas.
Timberlake’s fellow former *NSYNC colleague Lance Bass confirmed the news in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. Bass told ET’s Katie Krause that he and the other former *NSYNC guys knew about the baby way before the press got the news over the summer and that “the baby is cute, of course, it’s Justin and Jessica!”
When asked to reveal the name Bass replied: “That’s a good question, but there’s no way. [Justin] would kill me!”
We love that he respected his friend’s boundary with the baby’s name because this whole story illustrates an issue with both internet culture and how our wider society treats parents: No parent owes strangers their pregnancy, birth or adoption story.
That’s true if you’re a pregnant person just trying to buy groceries without a random fellow shopper trying to touch your stomach, or a mom who is tired of people on the playground asking if your adopted or multi-racial children are really yours. It’s also true if you happen to be one of the most famous couples on the planet.
The tabloid story as it was published months ago wasn’t news, really. It was speculation because no one in Timberlake and Biel’s camp would confirm the baby existed. And that’s a symptom of two huge problems in our society, in which rumors become “facts” and women’s bodies and choices are seen as public property.
We love it when celebrities post pregnancy or birth announcements to Instagram or blast their news on a magazine cover. That’s something worthy of celebrating. We’re celebrating the celebrity’s growing family with them, as we would if a friend announced their pregnancy or birth.
But when it happens this way, when media outlets take the choice to make the announcement away from the parents, it sucks. It’s kind of like if your cousin announced your pregnancy on Facebook before you could. That really happens, and it hurts moms. And it happens in part because stories like this one about Timberlake and Biel create a culture where people don’t think twice about posting about someone else’s pregnancy.
There are countless reasons why people choose to keep their pregnancies to themselves. They can be worried about repercussions at work, worried about pregnancy loss, worried about judgement or they could just want their privacy. And that’s okay. People who are welcoming a new child into their lives (whether it’s through pregnancy, surrogacy, adoption or fostering) don’t owe the world an explanation. They only owe their child a safe and secure homecoming.
That’s what celebrities are trying to do when they keep their baby news to themselves. We should respect that. It will help all moms (famous or not) if we normalize respecting parents’ choices.
Just like Bass did by refusing to give away the name in an interview. Good job, Lance!
[A version of this post was originally published July 19, 2020. It has been updated.]