Yesterday on the weekly ABC Coast radio spot I’m part of, the parenting panel discussion raised the topic of pressure on women to lose weight after having a baby. It was raised in light of the Duchess of Cambridge and commentary of her visible baby bump as she stood in front of the world’s press pack just 24 hours after giving birth.
This subject really gets up my nose. That it’s even a topic of discussion anywhere is ludicrous but that’s the way now, isn’t it? Days after bringing new life into the world – or even before the birth – women start being anxious to ‘get things back’ to the way they were before baby because of some conditioned notion that an imperfect body is a flawed body. This is of course based on our notion of a ‘perfect’ body, as drummed into us by advertising, all of which is bollocks anyway.
The fact that women feel pressure to attain some kind of body standard after having a baby is incredibly sad to me. Having a baby, creating new life and going through what is really an absolute bloody miracle should be a rock solid badge of honour for a woman, bags, sags and all. She should feel nothing short of powerful and amazing. It’s a monumental achievement and that our bodies are capable of carrying, producing and nurturing new life is to be celebrated, marvelled at and respected. If we could instead learn to trust our body, to nurture it and admire it even when it has a bit of extra padding, then surely the experience post baby would be less torturous.
A post-baby body is a thing of wonder, even when those babies are half way through school!
This is not to say that a mother shouldn’t look after herself. Absolutely she should, and part of health and happiness is about being comfortable in your own skin.
But wanting to look after your wellbeing is a different thing to judging any of your self worth on your dress size. Having enough self respect to want to be fit, healthy and looking your best is not the same thing as wanting to fit back into a pair of jeans you wore when you were dating your partner, or feeling ashamed because you have some tummy flab or less than perky breasts.
Wanting to lose excess kilos you may have put on during pregnancy (and the key word here is ‘excess’ meaning an unhealthy amount) is not the same thing as holding yourself to some unrealistic celebrity or advertising-driven standard of thinness in order to feel attractive. Wanting to regain your fitness so you feel fantastic is not the same as flogging yourself on the treadmill in order to wind back time.
The motivation for your actions is important because that is the message coming from your inner voice. To feel less attractive, less worthy or in any way less than you used to be because your body has changed after having children is a rotten way to treat yourself. It’s unfair and mean. It’s degrading because it fails to recognise you as a whole person.
I understand the desire to still feel attractive and vibrant after children; to retain some of the old you and be a little less ‘mummy-fied’ – that’s the WHOLE point of Sense of Self, to be more than just mum.
But let’s approach it with an acceptance and pride of who we are and where we’re at, and reach our goals for our own health and wellbeing and not to fit some false standard. Check out this piece on a Jade Beall photo essay for a more accurate portrayal of post-baby bodies.[quote style=”boxed”]The truth is, being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline—and we can’t afford to think that way. Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves. ~ Michelle Obama[/quote]
Want to hear the on air discussion? You can listen to it here