I’ve been watching The Tudors a lot (amazing; if you like period dramas, do not miss this series from 2007-2009), and after glancing through the celebrity parent weekend news I have never so fiercely coveted the power to issue a royal proclamation.
Hear ye, Hear ye: It is ridiculous that in ten minutes I scanned five post-baby body headlines.
First, it was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s slim! post-baby! body! just six weeks after the birth of her second child Gloria Ray. She looks gorgeous, if a little bit appropriately tired. Yay! Why then, WHY, does it matter how many seconds it’s been since her baby was born?
Hillary Duff—whose first son with husband Mike Comrie, Luca Cruz, is already a whopping ten weeks old—declared, according to US Weekly, that she is determined to drop the baby weight and attain the coveted tabloid “hot post-baby body” award.
Wait for it. No pun intended.
Right? It must be in her pinkies.
Beyoncé rocked her post-baby body at a concert in Atlantic City last week, declaring that she ate lettuce to lose 60 lbs in under five months since the birth of Ivy Blue.
Yes, I would like to be able to look like that in a leotard made of crystals at ANY time in my life, but it is not to be and it’s beside the point. These woman are stunning, end of story. The insane media focus on returning to pre-baby bodies and hot post-baby bodies in frighteningly short periods of time needs to be burned at the stake. I’ll bring the torch.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that, on average, celebrity women attain their goal weight after birth faster than the common folk. I hypothesize that there might be some reasons for such an astonishing accomplishment: 1) their image and bodies are their JOB; 2) they have trainers, dieticians, and cooks at their disposal; 3) money helps; 4) they are, to be completely and accurately stereotypical, a biologically rather THIN lot, wouldn’t you say? All of these points make it perhaps a trifle easier for your average celebrity woman to attain “pre-baby” weight than your average normal person.
That is not meant to knock the accomplishment of feeling good about your body after you have a baby. I applaud that for any woman, but success doesn’t require a speed of light “return to pre-baby body.” The entire concept is crap. Anyone who has actually had a baby knows that once you are post-baby, you are by definition, in your POST-BABY body. Whether you gained 10, 20, or 40 pounds, whether you lose it in two weeks or four months or four years, it is still your POST-BABY body and it will, in some way, show the effects of the human that grew inside of it.
I speak from experience. I’ve grown three human boys. I gained very little weight in all three pregnancies, not because I am a paragon of super-human virtue, nor even a celebrity – shocking revelation, I know – but because I have a freakishly fast metabolism. (I pray this won’t end at menopause, which approaches at the speed of light, but sadly I fear I will learn the truth the hard way). I still had – and have – despite no weight gain, a post-baby body. It sags. It’s stretched. It wrinkles and pulls a bit where it didn’t before babies.
This is the same bowl of Hollywood youth bull malarkey that they always feed us, just with another name. Don’t eat it. It makes you sad. Better to eat a little ice cream and enjoy your life. Remember the obvious subtext of the message that a woman must look, immediately if not sooner, like she never gave birth. Same-same. We must be young. We must be “unused.” We must be in the bloom of youth to be desirable, without the “marks” of our life or our babies.
Blech. Desirable to whom? We wouldn’t trade the gorgeous little fruits of our labor for anything, right? Not even for the untried bodies of our pre-baby days. Youth is fun. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but youth is often ignorant and cruel and judgy. Experience, grief, joy, unconditional love, empathy, self-awareness—these are all gifts babies bring, along with post-baby bodies. We should embrace them.
Hillary Duff said it all in a quote to US Weekly, though it will never make the headline, “I think if you ask any pregnant mom, they’re like ‘I want my body back,’ but it takes time. It takes nine months for your body to get that way and it’s putting on that weight on purpose.” Amen, Hillary. It’s a process, and no one should be counting weeks unless it’s for cute little baby milestones.