We all get it. Right?
The pressure to be thin is one that we, as women, deal with our entire lives. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of my body in terms of how others viewed it. Even at my 5th grade talent show, when I did a ballet number and had several other kids call me “chubby” after I presented myself in a leotard, I was aware I should be thinner. As a thin teenager and avid dancer, I never felt as thin as I was and was always aware of my skinnier peers. For the record, looking back, that really pisses me off because clearly, I didn't have any reason to put that kind of pressure on myself.
Fast-forward about 20 years (OMG) and I still feel like that insecure teenager sometimes. Although, being a new mom, the pressure has intensified in a way that is almost maddening. But you want to know what really irks me the most? It is the constant use of the term “post-baby body” and the connotation that it brings: "if you bounce right back, you are better."
From Scarlett Johansson to Gwen Stefani (both whom I admire on some level as strong women (see links)), the focus on how quickly they ‘bounced back’ after birth leaves me feeling a sense of failure. On some level, I am sure that both of these women would rather have us focus on their successes as mothers and less on their body. However, this isn’t how our society functions - and even though I know comparing myself to a celebrity is logically ridiculous, I can't help it. I think most of us can't. Take these headlines for example:
Yeah – something tells me that birthing Ryan Goslings spawn automatically makes you MORE beautiful post-baby, so maybe she doesn’t count. I kid.
Oh hey – thanks for making me feel like crap first thing in the morning, US Weekly!
Really? Even the health-focused sites are doing this? I must really just be a big ol’ ball of lazy chub. Yup, that’s it. All this breastfeeding and not sleeping is no excuse. Oh yeah, and that whole full-time job thing. Balderdash!
Oh look – Ciara still has a six-pack. WHAT? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Photoshop MUST be involved. It must.
I hate myself.
This is how it goes some days. And then I take a look at all my beautiful momma friends – all different shapes and sizes – and I think that every damn one of them are amazingly beautiful (and talented and brilliant and funny). Their post-baby bodies are real. Maybe we don’t look like Megan Fox or Olivia Wilde (loved her breastfeeding editorial in Glamour, P.S.) – but I am here to say SO WHAT! I didn’t start off at 100 pounds soaking wet, so I am not going to look like that ever. But here is what I do look like:
My hair grew long and strong while pregnant and luckily hasn’t fallen out yet from postpartum hormones! (The baby hairs are in full force though, friends; loud and proud little wavering static baby hairs--at all times.)
My smile is immeasurably brighter because my kid makes me completely light up.
My body is softer, but doesn’t generally look THAT much different. So, maybe I was a little chubby to begin with. There, I said it.
Luckily, I have been able to breastfeed my baby with no problems, so naturally no shirt I own will button over my gigantic boobs -- but my kid is thriving and healthy and we get to have that bond (this has been especially important to me as a working mom. It is our reconnection point, our touchstone).
My smile is kinder.
My heart is bigger.
My hands are gentler
My steps are softer.
My post-baby body has nothing to do with how I appear, but how I have become so much more. More myself. More loving. More whole. My post-baby body made us a family. (Ok, my husband may have had something to do with it too).
So, listen up, you ridiculous headlines and celebrity gossip creators: get it figured out already. We are women becoming mothers. We already have it hard enough. Give us a break! Our ‘post-baby bodies’ are damn great, no matter how they appear on the red carpet of our lives -- LOOK WHAT THEY CREATED!
Chelsea, a new mom
Do you have other terms or phrases that get your mom-sense all out of whack? What makes you crazy?
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