Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Postpartum Body Image: Celeb Style

I had a great time presenting for a mother's circle that my friend Fiona Judd hosts the other night!  The topic?  How to have good body image during pregnancy and beyond.  I have already done a couple posts that go over some of the things we discussed.  You can read my post about body image during pregnancy here and my post about postpartum body image here.  We also discussed how the hype surrounding celebrities' postpartum journeys can be very misleading.  I used some of Audrey Brashich's article and discussed how media's portrayal of breastfeeding may affect body image using an article from Adios Barbie.

Here's just a taste of the celebrity culture around pregnancy and beyond:

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Jessica Simpson (click for source)
·         Being paid an estimated $3 million by Weight Watcher to lose baby weight
·         (Not to mention all the jokes about how big she got during pregnancy and how long the pregnancy was.)

Would you stick to a diet if you were getting paid $3 million?

Gwenyth Paltrow (click for source)
 "Every woman can make time [for exercise] -- every woman -- and you can do it with your baby in the room." 
Works out 2 hours every day with the help of a personal trainer to lose baby weight.

I don't think that Gwenyth Paltrow understands the limitations most women have when is comes to exercise after the baby.  By the way, two hours every day is a bit excessive!

Maria Menounos (click for source, the actual quote is in the magazine not online)
Admits to being afraid to get pregnant because she doesn't want people to see her "hippy" body.

But you will pose nude for Allure?  I guess the assurance of airbrushing makes it all better.

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Mariah Carey (click for source)
Wore a towel in the bath so her husband couldn’t see her “rancid” body.
 “I had, like, no bones for a while,” she said gesturing to her collarbone.  “It’s important to me to feel my bones!”

Clearly Mariah Carey was uncomfortable with her body during pregnancy, which isn't uncommon for a lot of women.  I'm just sad that she would call her body "rancid" on record.  Not the example I want women to look up to.

Padma Lakshmi (click for source)
·         "I felt good then, I feel good now, I'll feel even better when I lose the last 15 pounds" (gaining 25 pounds during pregnancy).

If you feel good about your post-baby body, why do you still need to lose 15 pounds?!?

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Heidi Klum (click for source)
·         Walked runway for Victoria Secret 5 weeks after having her fourth baby.
·         Still hoping to lose 20 more pounds after being on the runway.

First of all, Heidi Klum is not the only model to walk the runway in a few short weeks after delivering a baby.  The pressure to appear in public after giving birth seems to be mounting for celebrities.  But seriously folks, most women are not ready to walk a runway 5 weeks postpartum.  And most women would be very satisfied with their bodies if they could walk the runway--they wouldn't be complaining about needed to lose 20 more pounds!

The reality of most women's experience giving birth is so far-removed from celebrity culture.  That's why one of my top pieces of advice is to throw out the magazines.  Focus on the gift of motherhood (even though some days it feels like a curse), and be compassionate toward your body.  You don't need timetables and comparisons to make life more stressful during pregnancy or postpartum.

What do you think of the media's portrayal of and celebrity expectations about pregnancy and post pregnancy?


  1. Before I had a baby, these celebs were my heroes. They inspired me and gave me this (delusional) can-do attitude about dropping the weight. Then I HAD a baby. It took me six maddening months to lose the weight, and my own husband tells me I pushed myself too hard. He's right. I have two children now, and I believe that diet and exercise should be managed for good health (not turbo-speed weight loss), and that a fit body is great, but it's secondary - a by-product of caring for yourself well. Hollywood pushes celebs, and I think it stinks. But I also believe we need to know the truth, be practical and reasonable, and act accordingly. And if pitching the mags is what helps us get there (it helped me)...pitch the mags! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Juliaann, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree with you that Hollywood pushes celebs too far. We all need a reality check, right? I'm glad you're in favor of ditching the magazines. Every small thing we can do to take a stand for our inner beauty helps!

  3. So true, these women are living in a prison of their own bodies. I wonder why we don't focus on the miracle that our bodies can give birth at all rather than all this drivel about losing weight. Also, when you are breast feeding, which is healthiest for both you and the baby, it is not suitable to be restricting calories!

  4. Laura, I agree--we ought to focus on the miracle that our bodies can give birth! It's such an awesome experience! I like your analogy of a prison. It must feel so confining to have to fit into Hollywood's ideal of beauty!

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  6. The media these days has really latched onto what I call "clickbait shaming" especially on women's media. I have a journalism degree, but I don't work in the media because it is generally a cesspool and I like to sleep well at night. At any rate, modern journalism is basically a psychological operation (psy op) where media outlets manipulate human psychological impulses to generate money and attention.

    Media long ago declared women a target, and therefore media looked to psychology to tell them how to best manipulate women. This is why so many articles on women's media are pronouncements couched in shaming language, "Why you're a bad mom." or "Why you should/shouldn't do x, or you'll be a bad mom" or "why these other women are so much better than you" or "your husband will leave you because men only like young hot bodies and you are old and boring", "why your husband looks at porn (it's his right and you are old and boring)" blah, blah, blah.

    But the crux of all these stories boils down to this: "you aren't good enough and you will never be good enough unless you can figure out how to age backwards and be perfect at everything all the time. The end." And it's a BIG FAT LIE.

    It's just a never ending pile of judgmental garbage intended to make women feel insecure. The best thing women can do for themselves is to reject "women's media" sites online that traffic in these sorts of knee-jerk shaming articles and instead frequent uplifting, positive sites that focus our collective value as women. Thank you for contributing to the latter.


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