Why Kim's Body-Image Angst is Totally Typical in New Moms

By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.

Kim Kardashian on Jay LenoKim Kardashian made headlines a few weeks ago when she posted a photo of herself wearing a barely-there white bathing suit on Instagram. Many people wondered why she did it--after all, this is a woman who's faced intense scrutiny about her body from the moment she announced she was pregnant--and last night, Kardashian told Jay Leno her reasoning.

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"This is my big, like, middle finger to the world on everyone that called me fat," she said. All the criticism of her pregnancy weight gain "really hurt my soul," Kim admitted. "I was gaining weight because I was pregnant, and it was just really hard to read all these stories and hear all these nasty things." And losing the weight was "the hardest challenge of [her] life."

Although her body anxiety was definitely heightened by the fact that she lives in the public eye, all new moms feel unsettled and at odds with their body. "Changes in your body are part of the anxiety of your life changing. Nothing is the same when you have a child," says Dr. Sari Shepphird, a psychologist and eating disorder specialist. Unfortunately, this natural angst is now intensified because it's become acceptable to talk about.

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"It used to be that people would understand that you had at least nine months to gain the weight, and you have nine months to lose it. For some reason, that axiom has gone out the window. Our culture has adopted the stance that a woman's body is never off-limits when it comes to being commented on," Dr. Shepphird explains.

This increased focus on weight gain both during and after pregnancy can contribute to postpartum depression, eating disorders, or other health problems. New moms need to allow themselves and their bodies time to heal from the difficulty of being pregnant and giving birth. "One of the things that really gets lost in translation is the importance of taking care of yourself after having a baby, and your appearance and what other people think of you isn't included in that. Taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep, nourishing your body, and not working out too much or too soon," Sheppird says.\

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Despite all the pressure and negative comments, Kardashian appears to have lost weight in a healthy and well-planned manner. "I did the Atkins diet… I really researched it," she told Leno. "At the beginning, I couldn't exercise a whole lot, but then I just started going on hikes… and it worked." It sounds like a smart, sane approach, and Sheppird agrees. "If you try to change what your body was designed to do and how it was designed to change, you're fighting nature, and you're fighting a battle that's just going to cause a lot more anxiety. And in the long run, it's really just not worth it."


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