By Sunny Sea Gold, REDBOOK.
The other day, I was surfing around Us Weekly's site on my phone during a lull in my day and couldn't believe my eyes: Four out of the 10 headlines on the mobile site's tiny homepage had the words "post-baby body" in them. Four, as in almost half. As Seth and Amy used to say on Saturday Night Live, "Really?" I love pop culture and celebrity gossip as much as any other woman (okay, maybe more), but can someone please tell me what's up with the tabloid media's--and maybe our whole culture's--obsession with insta-skinny moms? This whole mom-weight thing even made poor Kim Kardashian (a phrase I never thought I'd utter) do something as nutty as sending the whole world a sext of her in a white bathing suit to prove she's already slimmed down.
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It takes the average woman at least nine months to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight, and most of our bodies will look exactly like they did pre-kids. When I was pregnant, my New York City ob/gyn told me that she had fashion model clients who would freak out when, despite losing all their baby weight, their hips were still an inch or two larger than before. That makes sense, since the ability to fit into sample-size clothes is literally part of their jobs--but why the heck do the rest of us care so much? (For the record, I don't. And I've vowed never to go back to Us Weekly's website again, because I don't want to be told I that I should.)
Rachel Dore, Psy.D., an adjunct professor specializing in eating disorders at the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University, pins it to one more way we want to be like celebs. "But what we fail to examine is the why: The pressure celebrities feel to lose the weight is because their careers depend on it," she says. "Their personal brands are based on them looking a certain way on camera. For the majority of us, this isn't true, yet we act as if our livelihoods depend on it."
My fear is that too many of us are starting to believe that rapid weight loss and instant post-baby bounce-back is the norm, rather than the aberration that it actually is. Hilary Duff had it right when she bit back at the ridiculous Internet chatter after pics of her in a bikini surfaced, saying, "This is the way it goes for most women--the weight doesn't fall off overnight." (Also: Not to comment on her body, but, um, am I the only one who thinks she looks adorable, healthy, and fit in those pics?)
Even Elizabeth Banks, who had her kids through a surrogate, stood up for the average woman, asserting with humor, "Women should not be expected to bounce back. It's a true disservice what's going on right now with all these celebrity moms. First of all, I just want to remind people that celebrities generally are genetically superior human beings on a certain level anyway: They're mostly thin, they got trainers, they work out, they've got money, they've got the ability, and they are normally genetically predisposed to being thin people anyway. Just go be with your kid for a minute. Don't get to the gym right away. It's all right. This is not how it's supposed to be, everybody. Calm down."
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I don't blame that mom who posted a picture of her posing with her rockin' body and three kids under the age of 4 to Facebook along with the caption, "What's Your Excuse?" for being proud of her figure and the work she's put into it. It's obviously a top priority for her. That's okay--but it's also okay that it's not a priority for me and most of the other moms I know. I do Pilates twice a week and walk every other day in order to remain mentally clear and physically energetic, but dedicate hours per week to sculpting a tighter rear end? Maybe when my kid goes to kndergarten. Or, actually, more like never.
What we need are more celebrities like HilDuff and Banks injecting a little reality into this discussion, and for more of us to stop reading about this bullshit. I know what it's going to take for me to "get my body back" post-baby, and so do you. So let's all just stop clicking on the links, and maybe this whole group hysteria over mom-bodies will blow over.
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