Vertically challenged, full-time mama of two children; a boy and a girl. Wife to a husband who knows me too well. Past work experience includes interactive marketing, public relations, and teaching. Self-proclaimed worrier and over-thinker. Loves the sun, cookies & cream ice cream, and lounging on the couch with a good foodie magazine.

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Unrealistic Body Image for New Moms

Our society is saturated with unrealistic images and photo-shopped bodies.  As a mom of a little girl, I need to figure out how I’m going to teach her the ridiculousness of it all.  How fake the pictures are and how what we see in magazines and advertisements is the creation of fiction.  Lately, though, my attention has been drawn to this obsession with celebrities and their post-baby bodies.  Let’s not also forget about the celebrities who pose while pregnant; the recent picture of Jessica Simpson on the cover of Elle magazine comes to mind, showcasing her bare belly.  She looks great, but how much of this photograph is real?

Jessica Alba: Pregnant vs. Post-Baby Body

The magazines and the Internet are filled with pictures of ladies such as Mariah, Beyonce, and Jessica Alba with their amazing post-baby bodies.   There is always that photograph of a new mom in the tiny bikini splashing in the waves at the beach or the first appearance after having the baby wearing a tight dress.  All I wore for months post-baby were my maternity jeans and t-shirts.  Why are we praising these unattainable post-baby bodies?  Why does no one note that slimming down too quickly isn’t healthy for women?  Why is the first priority to “slim down” as quickly as possible after birth?  It isn’t natural.

Why doesn’t our society acknowledge the enormity (pun intended) of pregnancy and all that goes with it?  A woman’s body changes in so many ways and I feel like the media expects that two weeks after baby arrives, women should be rocking the skinny jeans.  It bothers me.  I mean, you are, after all, growing a human being in there!

Beyonce - One month after giving birth

After an unexpected c-section with my first baby, I took a good six weeks just to heal and feel human.  My concern was not about how I looked but more about how to navigate motherhood.  There are some frightening pictures from those early mommy days.  Most days I looked like a very sleepy slob.  Isn’t that what new motherhood is all about?  Embrace it.  There will be exhaustion, there will be leaky parts, and there will be bad hair days. It’s OK.  Celebrities, however, are not pictured this way and instead are held up to some ridiculous standard which no real mom has the energy to think about.  Women are awarded some kind of badge of honor because of how quickly they return to their previous form.  Why is this valued so much?

It seems that this only creates negative feelings for the regular women out there having children without a live-in personal trainer, a chef, and a nanny.  Why can’t we let nature take its course so that women can enjoy the beginnings of motherhood without the added pressure of fitting back into their pre-baby jeans?  How about appreciating all that the body accomplishes throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the marathon that is nursing?

I found it depressing that Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam on The Office, had to defend herself at the SAG Awards regarding that fact that four months after having her baby, her body was not back to pre-baby form.  Finally we see an authentic picture of what motherhood looks like.  I applaud her for being honest and real.  I feel bad that the focus wasn’t on her beautiful new baby, but instead on how she has “struggled” to lose her baby weight.

It seems to me that, again, wide-stream media has got it wrong.  Obsessing about how skinny you become after birth should not be the focus.  Instead, let’s concentrate on healthy bodies and happy babies.  That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Three months after having twins, Angelina steps out.

What do you think?  What does this say about our society and how much body image plays a role?

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Comments (4)

  1. The Atomic mom 03/09/2012 at 8:53 pm

    Sure you’d be able to get back to a pre-baby size if you are a star — with a nanny, and people to take care of your housework and grocery shopping etc, etc, etc. The rest of us live in the real world with real issues and toilets to clean.

  2. Jennifer D. 03/09/2012 at 8:25 pm

    This hasn’t come up with our seven year old yet and she isn’t really exposed to it much as we don’t watch much TV. She is exposed to those trashy magazines though when we are checking out at the grocery store. When I see her looking at them or she asks questions I tell her the truth. It is all fake. 🙂

    I think what is just as important is her seeing women in her life (mom, gma’s aunts, neighbors, teachers, etc) that show what real women look like.

  3. Stacy MacDonald 03/09/2012 at 8:17 pm

    So anybody remember when Jamie Lee Curtis did that magazine spread where she used untouched photos. She posed in just her bra and panties without touch ups. She was on a mission to show a real body. I found it refreshing and an amazing message to all women. The retouched images are so different than the true real image they started out with.

  4. Rachael Herrscher 03/09/2012 at 10:52 am

    This issue totally fires me up. It’s not only the body image part, but it’s the way they tell the story along the way – for the more normal celebrities. After the baby, they’ll have some frumpy pictures in People magazine about the now chubbier celebrity, followed by a story 9-12 months later with a headline “How I lost 30 pounds!” where the celebrity will reference how sad it was to be fat. The whole cycle of it slays me!