Last week Italian magazine Panorama ran a story featuring fashion icons Dolce and Gabbana. This is innocent enough, but what has outraged many are some comments Domenico Dolce made about children. You may have heard them.
‘You are born and you have a father and a mother,’ he said. ‘Or at least it should be like this;
that’s why I am not convinced by chemical children, synthetic babies, wombs for rent.’
As you can imagine this has sparked fury right around the globe, especially from those who have been lucky enough to have a child conceived through IVF. Entertainer Elton John certainly hasn’t held back, having two IVF children of his own, beginning a Twitter war against the fashion duo.
‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic”.’ he wrote. ‘And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF — a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.
‘Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions, he went on. ‘I shall never wear Dolce & Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.’
Dolce and Gabbana have retaliated saying the opinions were their own and had not meant to judge.
“We talked about our way of looking at the world, but it was not our intention to express a judgement on other people’s choices,” said Stefano Gabbana in a press statement.
Motherhood was the theme of their recent fashion show in Milan, so you would perhaps expect them to be a little more sympathetic, or maybe keep their opinions to themselves. Instead, their words have cut to the core of the hearts of many, including our very own North Shore Mums, even those who have not conceived through IVF. We gave them the opportunity to speak out about their feelings and here is what some had to say. Note: you won’t find emotional rants calling for all D&G clothing to be burnt in a ceremonial sacrifice; just intelligent debate from intelligent women.
Recent comments from fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana that ‘IVF babies are synthetic’ have sent my blood pressure sky high. To start with, they haven’t taken the time to do some research on what IVF actually involves and just how many people use it. The various forms of assisted reproductive technology are not just for people that have two lots of sperm or two lots of eggs. My partner has plenty of sperm and I have plenty of eggs, it’s simply that my eggs have no direction and needed a little encouragement – that’s why I needed IVF.
There are many barriers preventing people from having children, not just their sexual preference, and the emotional and physical journey you undertake when going through IVF is so complex and mind-bending that it’s just indescribable.
So many ups and downs, drugs, blood tests, ultrasounds – and that could just be one cycle. Sometimes the outlook is just that unbearable that you lose all hope, and you can also feel like a complete failure. At least I did. Adding insult to the many, many people who use this science only adds another layer of society-bred BS that we have to deal with.
Why can’t people take a supportive route and ogle the wonders of science instead? Without IVF, obviously I wouldn’t have become a mother. I wouldn’t currently be pregnant with my second and going through the same thing every other pregnant woman experiences. I wouldn’t wake up each day with a smile on my face knowing the tiny cuddles I’ll receive when I get my daughter out of bed will make my day. I wouldn’t get to watch my children grow into individuals and guide them in their life choices. And I wouldn’t know that extra layer of love you can have for someone, when you see them in the role of a parent. If science can help provide these most amazing feelings, why should I be made to feel ashamed for using it?
Comments like these, coming from people who sell ridiculous and overpriced so-called fashion, and who clearly have no qualifications to speak on the issue, should be completely ignored. No amount of debate will ever convince me that a person is any less deserving of experiencing parenthood simply because of a barrier, or that a baby created with a little help from science, is any less deserving of love or a family, in any form.
I had a few thoughts about the whole D&G thing. I was fortunate enough to conceive my children the old-fashioned way, but I’m still outraged.
I was considering this angle: this kind of incorrect and misinformed thinking could be extrapolated. So, without IVF then, John and Furnish would not have any babies. Well, without modern obstetrics, then I would not have any babies either; I would have probably died in childbirth along with my first baby. Is she ‘synthetic’? Similarly, I wasn’t able to fully breastfeed her and had to add in ‘synthetic’ formula, without which again she may not have survived… If we restrict ourselves to only the babies conceived naturally, delivered vaginally without complication and breastfed exclusively for 4-6 months, how many babies does that leave us with?! Oh, and also subtract those who would otherwise have died of infectious diseases and serious congenital abnormalities without paediatric medicine and vaccinations. Nasty, synthetic medicine!
Really offensive to hear prominent people who have the media as a megaphone comparing human beings with some nasty polyester blend. Meanwhile, Lycra is a synthetic fabric, and I think it’s just about the greatest thing ever.
As I say to my patients sometimes: what is this, ‘natural’? Nature is great, but it has also given us cancer and tsunamis. It ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. People advocating giving babies ‘paleo’ baby formula made from bone broth that would probably kill them… Where along the line did we lose our understanding that ‘man-made’ is not necessarily less than ‘naturally-occurring’? This is almost a societal loss of critical-thinking ability, what we are experiencing at the moment, typified by this bizarre interest in Stone Age diets. I notice that not many people are queuing up to visit the ‘paleo dentist’…
Wanting to parent a child is such a deep-seated instinct and I think no different to being gay, which Dolce and Gabbana are, which I’ve read is a deep-seated way of being. Isn’t it synthetic to suppress these instincts of parenting if the technology is available to us, just like it is synthetic to stay in the closet? I have to admit I battled with shame, feelings of failure and, frankly, that I wasn’t meant to be a parent, it wasn’t in my lot – all considerations before i dived into IVF. But having my beautiful baby is amazing and most of my instincts on how to parent her are certainly not synthetic.
It truly upsets me that people have these views at all, let alone people in such public positions. But what worries me even more is the impact these comments could potentially have on all of the IVF children out there. With more than 12,000 IVF babies born in Australia each year – and the number is increasing due to advances in technology – you’d be hard-pressed to find a school that doesn’t have any IVF children. But if you look at these kids, they are no different to any of the other kids. They look the same, they act the same, their intelligence is the same. They’re just normal, everyday kids. I would truly hate it if it ever became a ‘them’ and ‘us’ issue socially and non-IVF children started teasing IVF children for not being ‘real’. Our kids have enough battles to endure growing up these days – all you need to do is look at the rates of suicide, depression and eating disorders.
Adults, including Dolce and Gabbana, should be more accountable for what they say; not just sweep their naïve comments under the carpet as ‘opinion’. Let’s not start another battle for our children to face, but instead embrace the fact that IVF children are incredible additions to our world, and are here to stay.
If you have thoughts you’d like to share about the comments Dolce made, feel free to add them to the comments section below.
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