Monday, August 18, 2008

Wow, They Really Can't Win

I never expect to say that too often about thin, rich, beautiful women, but in one area, at least, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I'm talking about post-pregnancy weight loss.

Now we all know the way it works. Celebrity moms already lose hotness points for being pregnant, though part of the sex goddess status is reclaimable if teh guys should so deign to name them a member of the "sexy swollen ankles club," apparently. People anxiously await any change in their figures, then speculate about whether or not they are in danger of becoming "too fat" during pregnancy--the fact that Gillian Anderson decided to wait until after she has her baby to work out merited a number of posts and articles. And my God, just google "Milla Jovovich pregnancy" to see how obsessed people were with the fact that she gained 70 lbs!!!

Within about five minutes postpartum, they are scrutinized for any sign of "pregnancy/baby" stomach. When no such flaw is found, media outlets ooh and ahh over how they got their bodies "back." I mean the article linked quotes Jada Pinkett Smith:
Matrix mama Jada Pinkett Smith admits that celebrities are masters of illusion who get a lot of help from nannies, personal chefs, trainers, cleaning services, the works. "All moms struggle. Celebrities just know how to conceal it," says Pinkett Smith, who has two children with husband Will Smith and is stepmom to his first son. "While motherhood is a beautiful thing, it's traumatic to the body and the mind. I had some really down days after my kids were born. I thought I would never recover, even though I had a lot of help." Emphasis mine
Then goes right on to outline how you, yes you, can achieve these amazing results at home.

But now, the same media that praise the "willpower" needed to lose forty pounds in two weeks are pursuing a new angle. Some headlines:Celebrity mamas fuel post-baby body blues: Stars who are bikini-ready right after birth inspire fury in many new moms
"Pregorexia" Inspired By Thin Celebs?
Moms-To-Be, Obsessing Over Weight, Diet, Exercise So Much They Put Baby's Health In Some Jeopardy
Pregorexia is an oh-so-cute-and-appropriate play on the word anorexia, so I don't think I need to define it. The gist of the news coverage? Moms who "under eat" or "over exercise" are "thinspired" by Nicole Kidman, Nicole Richie, Angelina Jolie, and other celebrities who regain their pre-baby physiques in a short amount of time.

I'd like to suggest that perhaps it's not the fact that these women seem to get "back in shape" so quickly that's the problem, but the media coverage (and adulation) of it, the way it has become an expectation, and cultural messages about the horrors of being fat that long precede the obsessive coverage of celebrity moms postpartum.

Don't worry--the same media that are spreading the pregorexia warnings should be instrumental in helping them blow over. In its coverage of the article about the pregorexia threat, AOL gushes,
Stars like Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman have managed to stay fabulously thin while pregnant and seemed to pop back into their pre-baby physique days after giving birth.
And according to Salon, it's not pregorexics but "Growing numbers of obese and overweight women, and mothers who gain more weight during pregnancy than is recommended" who are the real problem. You know... same ol' fatties.

Letting go of the "you can never be too thin" motto is impossible.


frau sally benz said...

The pressure for women (not just celebs) to stay attractive while they're pregnant and to quickly lose all the weight afterwards is really astonishing. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard men say things like "she still hasn't lost the baby weight?! it's been a year already!" Gee, I don't know, maybe she's too busy trying to get back to work and raising her baby! Crap like this pisses me off.

And that "sexy swollen ankles club" WTF?!

Kimberly said...

As someone still dealing with baby weight - I'm so glad you wrote this. I find myself liking celebs who DON'T lose the weight in 10 days much more. Halle took, what, like 8 whole weeks, and that was a long time to the media!!! I remember Kate Hudson gained 70lbs or something and didn't lose it fast enough for the press (3 months or so) and then overnight she was back to being a size negative 2.

The pressure IS out there and it pisses me off. It's been 15 months since I had my baby and I'm still about 20lbs heavier. But, unlike Jada, I don't have a personal chef, nanny, or anyone else to help me squeeze in time to work out. Unlike Jennifer Lopez, I can't up and decide to train for a triathelon to help get that nagging extra 20 off - I'm too busy feeding, grooming, bathing, and nurturing a 5 yr old and 1 yr old. And when I'm not doing that, I'm usually ushering them to daycare so I can take my "lazy fat ass" to work to earn a modest living.

So, since I had the gall to *gasp* eat while I was pregnant, and was too miserable to really work out so that my body would just naturally pop back like those oh-so-normal bodied celebrities, I guess I'll have to deal with the "unsightly" extra weight for a while.


Octogalore said...

It's unbelievable how various idiot media vehicles praise limiting weight gain in pregnancy. I gained about 30 (but would've been closer to 40 if I'd gone full term). I know a few women who gained 15lb, not because they weren't trying but because of sickness throughout pregnancy, and there were some repercussions for that. I've never heard about repercussions for gaining an extra 20lb or so above the recommendation.

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