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Tell the Truth, Kelly Ripa!

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Jennifer Ginsberg: I just watched an episode of "True Hollywood Story" that featured Kelly Ripa. After spending an hour listening to her friends and colleagues rave about her ambition, talent, and ability to balance 16-hour workdays with being a mom to three young children, my greatest question was not answered.

Kelly Ripa and Family

How much help do you really have, Ms. Ripa? How many nannies, night-nurses, doulas, chefs, assistants, dog walkers, stylists, and spiritual gurus does it take for you to get through a single, effing day? Because after watching the program last night, I was led to believe that you get up at 4 AM, spend the next 8 hours taping "Live," then hop in a car to get across town to tape your Sitcom/Soap Opera Du Jour, all while balancing three children in your two arms without any help.

The myth that you can somehow balance your extraordinarily hectic life with being a mom without batting an eye only makes all us other moms feel inadequate. You pride yourself on being able to connect to "regular folk," and you are marketed as a Jersey girl from a blue-collar family with old-fashioned values and a solid work ethic. How about getting honest with all of your fans and telling us the truth about what it really takes to make your life work? The idea that you are able to "do it all," while looking impossibly perfect and thin, only distances you from the women you are attempting to connect with.

So spill it, Kelly. Tell us the ugly truth. I want to know what it feels like to not see your children for days on end. How you cope with the guilt of not being able to tuck them in at night. How hard it is on your marriage. How scared and conflicted you are about the choices you made. I think you are brave enough to drop the "perfect woman" act and let your fans catch a glimpse of the real you.

Or perhaps, Ms. Ripa shouldn't fess up to her fans. Maybe we need her image of perfection to inspire us to be our most vivacious, ambitious, and skinniest selves. If Kelly would occasionally act grumpy and look like a schlep, we would have to acknowledge her for the mere mortal she really is. Our culture seems to need a Super Woman Archetype in order to give us something to aspire toward. Is Kelly Ripa our measuring stick -- our means of assessing our progress -- as we strive toward achieving feminine utopia? She is so accomplished, so upbeat, so beautiful, so thin. And a loving wife and devoted mom to boot! Maybe, just maybe, if we were more disciplined, focused, and positive, then we could be one fraction of what the flawless Kelly Ripa is so effortlessly.

But whenever I look at Kelly, I think "the brighter the light the darker the shadow," a concept developed by Jung in his work as a psychologist. As young children, we are taught what parts of ourselves are safe to express to the outside world, and what parts of ourselves we need to hide. As women and moms, we believe we need to hide our fears, insecurities, ambivalence, and struggles. We are terrified that we may come across as ungrateful for our children or selfish if we dare express an authentic emotion.

The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The more I need to present a persona of perfection and control to the world, the more anxious and conflicted I become. The more I need to show you what a great mom I am, how "OK" I am, how unaffected I am by fear, insecurity, and sadness, the more likely that these very emotions will isolate and overwhelm me.

What does all this have to do with Kelly Ripa? I am concerned about her maniacally running around all day, from activity to activity, without taking a break to adequately rest and feed her body. But I am more concerned that this is the female that we have chosen to deify. A woman who is deeply invested in looking perfect to the outside world, no matter what the cost. A woman who so clearly subjugates her own basic needs so she can always appear in control.

Perhaps it is time for us to find some new female role models who truly balance caring for their own needs while caring for their children. Women who look like real women, not misogynistic caricatures of what a woman should look like.

As Jung said, "I would rather be whole than good."

43 comments so far | Post a comment now
aerialla May 2, 2009, 9:09 AM

I’ve always thought Kelly Ripa was as phony as her tan, thank goodness someone else feels this way. I’m sorry but no woman is this seemingly perfect without major skeletons in the closet or a genetic cyborg. Can anyone say Stepford Wife!

Kristen May 2, 2009, 10:30 AM

I think she has A LOT of background help that she is not owning up to. I also feel sorry for her kids, how often do they really see her? I guess my question is once you’ve made your first couple million dollars why not stop and spend time with your family…at least one of the parents.

Mariah May 2, 2009, 10:45 AM

I can just see the headline now on the cover of “US”, “People” and/or the “National Enquirer”: Kelly Rippa, the real truth. Anorexic, trouble marriage on the brink of divorce as husband has affair and children abused by nanny”. Maybe this is the REAL Hollywood Story. Great commentary on a disturbing subject. It’s about time someone write what everyone else is thinking…

mimi May 2, 2009, 10:59 AM

Thank you for writing this article. You have put into words exactly how I feel about Kelly Ripa. The truth needs to come out because as a mom I know how hard it is to balance: life, partner, children and work. Love your quotes from Jung. Right on.. I feel more whole just reading your article! Thanks, again:-)

NY mommy May 2, 2009, 11:14 AM

Your post has some relevant arguments: HOW does she do it ALL? However, I would like to position myself with “the other side”, the happy, balanced, do-it-all-with-grace while yes, still looking “perfect and thin” side. There are those of us out there that can have a full-circle life quite successfully, without having “an eating disorder” or unhappy children or any of the other things that resentful people wish upon us. I, like Kelly, am a New Yorker and there are a lot of “us folk” out here. After reading your post and other blogs like this (not just about Kelly), I’m not so sure we women are the “fairer sex”…it’s a shame that women, insecure women, prefer to delve in negativity instead of the inspirational. Kelly has the life she has, by being a hard-working, positive woman, with some great genetics. All of us want Kelly’s life - let’s not condemn her for it. Let’s get some better self-esteem, too!

Cha May 2, 2009, 11:49 AM

I too think Kelly is a phony. She annoys the daylights out of me and I stopped watching LIVE years ago because of it.

AM  May 2, 2009, 11:58 AM

Doesn’t she have a really hands on husband.. in fact isn’t he practically a stay at home dad… If that’s true then she is not doing it all alone. And by the way, so what if she has background help. The way I see it is this, she’s rich enough to afford it so most likely she has some kind of extra help. And if she doesn’t want to talk about her staff then that’s her choice. If I could afford I would hire help too.

Pamala May 2, 2009, 1:01 PM

The only one who I think is a phony is Kate from Jon and Kate plus 8. Kelly is a celeberty and of course she probably has help. So what.

Anonymous May 2, 2009, 1:37 PM

I think Kelly is the main breadwinner in her family. Let’s face it, her husband is not as famous as she is. I’m sure she has lots of help even though
she won’t admit to it.

Samantha May 2, 2009, 1:48 PM

The point isn’t whether or not Kelly has help…the point is that there’s never a mention of it. She’s certainly entitled to have help - but it would be nice if she would admit it. And, for NY Mommy - you can position yourself however you’d like. No one is wishing resentment on you, although it’s interesting that you have this perspective. I too am from NY - that doesn’t make you any more special or give you any better skill set than a mom from Ashville or Tampa Bay. Do you really think that every woman wants Kelly’s life? Sounds like you do. No one is condemning her for anything - all I want to know is the truth. If she would honestly share how she balances her life it would a good lesson for all of us - and perhaps then you might feel less people are less resentful towards you as well.

JK May 2, 2009, 10:19 PM

“So spill it, Kelly. Tell us the ugly truth. I want to know what it feels like to not see your children for days on end. How you cope with the guilt of not being able to tuck them in at night. How hard it is on your marriage. How scared and conflicted you are about the choices you made. I think you are brave enough to drop the “perfect woman” act and let your fans catch a glimpse of the real you.” Maybe she’ll let you go on her show and answer your questions “LIVE”.

Stan May 3, 2009, 9:12 AM

None of you have ever watched Regis and Kelly Live in the morning. She is always telling the audience how she only works 1 hour a day and has all kinds of help at home She talks about her personal assistant, don’t you all wish you could afford one. She does take her kids with her everywhere. I just think you all are a bunch of jealous women the wish you were in her place. Like all of the women on the View (except for Elizabeth of course) that put down every women that is better looking than them.

Cha D May 3, 2009, 11:24 AM

Oh poor misguided Stan. Now I know your opinion means nothing if you’re a fan of Elizabeth. @@ I don’t like phonies. Plain and simple. I am perfectly happy to give a good women credit as needed. There are a lot of beautiful women out there in the celebrity world that get my respect. She (Kelly Ripa) is just not one of them.

John May 3, 2009, 1:45 PM

That THS of Kelly Ripa is not current at all. As it is right now, her only regular gig is LIVE. She may do a commercial here and there, but she doesn’t work 18 hour days. Plus, she has said on LIVE many times that she has a personal assistant as well as a full-time babysitter for her kids, so its not like she tries to pass it off as “I do it without any help”. Even if she did have 8 nannies on a rotation, so what? She can afford it and its her choice. Its none of your business. Besides, why should she have to tell you the details of her life just to make you feel better about yourself? Don’t worry about what Kelly Ripa or anyone else does with their time and family. Concentrate on your own situation.

Anonymous May 3, 2009, 3:14 PM

It’s a matter of integrity - just be honest. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not…and be a role model at the same time - that’s the point. Who do we want to emulate and be most like? Is it Kelly? I have 2 kids of my own. Life is hard and life gets in the way of daily activities.

Pam May 7, 2009, 4:23 AM

Since when did Kelly Ripa sign up to be everyone’s role model? If you have even looked at Kelly Ripa to be a role model, what does that say about you? I can’t believe…oh, wait…I can believe, that it takes two men to set you jealous lot straight. What is it with women? Is that all you do is sit around and belch out gossipy crap to each other and try to drag people down? Kelly chose her life. Choose yours. So she became successful. SO WHAT. Any of us that watch LIVE know that Kelly has always said she could never do it all on her own. She has stated many times she doesn’t even know how to do her own makeup or what to wear. She is always giving credit to everyone around her. She has even said her kids were well fed because Mark’s mom makes them spaghetti sauce to freeze.

When she did have her sitcom Hope and Faith while doing the LIVE show, she said it was the hardest period of her life and she never wanted to go there again. She worked to get where she is and paid her dues. So stop being a bunch of cranks. And stop picking on her husband. They have a film production company.

Do your research. Kelly may be a tad too slim but she used to be a smoker and looks pretty healthy to me now. She looks like many high profile athletes. So give her a break. Set your own goals and measure yourself to your own standards. Most of the people that are highly critical of her just don’t get her shtick. When she hams it up for the camera as if she’s God’s gift to the universe she’s being funny. I think she’s a hoot! You don’t have to watch her. You don’t have to look at her photos. If it makes you feel better look at the ones of her without makeup. She looks pretty normal. Now do you feel better?

Pam May 7, 2009, 4:26 AM

By the way Carl Jung was a serious whack job. You need to find better frames of reference.

Gretchen May 8, 2009, 7:11 PM

I laugh when I see Kelly Ripa on the appliance commercials…like SHE really DOES those everyday chores! With her work schedule there is obviously no time for this and sadly, no time for her family. I would much prefer idolizing a “real” mother that can do it on her own without the drama.

Jennifer May 9, 2009, 3:44 PM

Kelly Ripa is the biggest fake and imposter going. For one, she has a nanny for each of her children (in other words..each child has their OWN nanny)…Now please tell me why this is necessary? However she’s AWFULLY careful never to be seen with the nannies or have the children seen with the nannies for that matter. She’s a show mom, nothing more. Whenever she talks about her children it’s to brag in some way or fashion. I remember Kathy Lee would constanly talk about her kids but it was about warm-hearted stuff like what she made them for lunch, etc. She also constantly knocks regis and puts him down every chance she gets. She’s an ugly human being.

Pam May 10, 2009, 4:02 PM

But the question Jennifer is: why do you care? Criticize Madonna, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd - they all have nannies - heck, if you’ve nothing better to do with your time, why not take on the entire entertainment establishment? You talk about Kelly knocking Regis, while you knock Kelly. Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite? If anything, it kinda makes you sound like a bully. You either have an exaggerated sense of importance with yourself, or you’re incredibly insecure.

Why don’t you get out of the gutter and stop using your time gossiping, and instead apply it towards something more valuable in society. Isn’t you life worth more?

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people - Eleanor Roosevelt

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