Hilaria Baldwin needs to own up to ‘surrogacy’ baby drama



Hilaria Baldwin owes her followers an explanation.

It’s absurd that Hilaria and Alec Baldwin expect to allow the public into their private lives to the advantage of both their careers and then call foul when that same public comes looking for answers at the sudden appearance of a new baby.

Earlier this week, fans were surprised to learn that the couple had secretly welcomed their sixth child, Lucia, just months after the arrival of their fifth, Eduardo. How did that happen? On Wednesday, it was reported that they had delivered the baby via surrogate. But the couple has remained silent on the details — though Alec did tell one curious social-media commenter to “shut the f–k up.”

Hilaria Baldwin debuted her new baby daughter Lucia in an Instagram pic of her brood.
Hilaria Baldwin debuted her new baby daughter Lucia in an Instagram pic of her brood.

Hilaria has built a lucrative career based off her large Instagram following, most of which was gained from her overtly confessional posts about being a mom. And when you turn your life as a mother into a brand, you must open yourself up to the same accountability we expect from any other business.

It’s complicated and uncomfortable to criticize a new mother. I have two kids under the age of 4, and I know how real the struggle is. But I also haven’t turned my family into a public-facing business. The Baldwins are not your average family, and Hilaria is not your average mother.

Hilaria’s brand is built on being a mom — on many pregnancies, many births and many adorable naked baby selfies. Through those photos, she’s built a following of nearly a million people on Instagram.

I’ve spent the past year reporting a podcast, “Under the Influence,” on the world of Instagram’s mom influencers. So I know that in the mom industrial complex, Hilaria’s massive following puts her in the top tier of mom influencers, some of the biggest money makers in the field.

When you are a brand, you answer questions from the consumers of your brand about your product. In this case, the product happens to be children. This is not a judgement about the decision to broadcast your life as a parent and your children on the Internet.

If you can make money posting pictures of your kids and some vacuum cleaners on Instagram and manage to capitalize off of all the unpaid labor of motherhood, then good for you. But you do not get to be outraged when people question you. You cannot act as if these questions are crossing a line when until now you have implemented no boundaries around what you share.

You made a choice to put this child out there on the Internet. You made a choice to make this child part of your personal brand. And therefore you should be held accountable. Mom influencers make money by posting pictures of and information about their children. They make their lives seem aspirational and therefore shoppable.

I have no idea what Hilaria Baldwin gets paid per post, and if I asked Alec he would probably tell me to f–k off, but there is a baseline formula for how much an influencer gets paid for a single post.

Jo Piazza hosts "Under the Influence," a podcast about the mommy blogger phenomenon.
Jo Piazza hosts “Under the Influence,” a podcast about the mommy blogger phenomenon.
Emily Scott

At about $100 per 10,000 followers, the top influencers — accounts with more than 800,000 followers — can make $8,000 for a single post, and much more if they do a Story or a video. 

A very casual glance of Hilaria’s Instagram feed from the past six months reveals paid posts from Bissell, Fisher-Price, kids learning device Osmo and sanitizer spray bottle O3waterworks. She also appears to be developing a lavender ointment cream with the natural skin-care brand Waxelene.

That is potentially a lot of money. I won’t speculate on an exact amount, because I’m vaguely afraid of Alec Baldwin coming to my house and punching me in the face.

But I will say that it is f–k-you money to most of us. And that money is dependent on the audience Hilaria has. Let’s think of them like shareholders in a public company. She needs them. So to act like you don’t owe those consumers an explanation is just simple workplace malfeasance, at least if you’re a mom influencer. You cannot take offense when people ask questions when you’re making so much money off of them. 

I believe that Hilaria Baldwin is a marketing and publicity genius. She’s built an incredibly successful company around herself. And just like any successful company, she managed to change the conversation when her brand was threatened in December when she was accused of cultural appropriation after long claiming she had grown up in Spain, when her real name is Hillary and she’s from Massachusetts. There is no better way for a public figure to pivot from a scandal than to show off a newborn.

The slow drip of information Hilaria and Alec are feeding their followers about this new baby has the putrid smell of a publicity stunt that can only stand to make their family more money. After all, the market favors moms of multiples, because they have simply more opportunities for product placement.

Right now, Hilaria and Alec are playing some kind of ridiculous game that will only serve to give their family more attention and bolster her brand in the future. We, her audience, deserve answers.


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