This post is hard for me to write because I spend so much time trying to hide what I am about to show you. I’m going to do this because I am so angry. I am so angry at the extraordinary amount of pressure on women to lose their “baby weight”. So much so, that celebrities are now signing on with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and other weight loss programs, while they are still pregnant or just after giving birth. These women are so aware of the pressure on them to be skinny, to erase any sign they just birthed a human being, that they start buying bikinis and booking celebrity photographers for their “Post-baby Miracle Body” magazine cover from the moment they pee on their pregnancy test stick. They are also desperate for press and the cash that goes along with it, but that’s another blog post.
Mariah Carey and Mel B, aka Scary Spice, were both named as Jenny Craig Ambassadors within three months of giving birth, in Mel B’s case it was less than 6 weeks. And earlier this week, Jessica Simpson was reported to have signed a multi-million dollar deal with Weight Watchers to help her shed her baby weight. This is of course after she gives birth. That’s right, she has not even birthed her baby yet and there’s a deal on the table. Do you reckon they’ll do their official “before photos” while the newborn is getting its APGAR tests done? Or will she be too busy doing crunches? I’m sure she’ll be prepared, a little like the pregnant woman in the Rebel Sports advertisement hoping she gets some exercise equipment for Christmas to help her get back in shape. I shit you not.
I know this isn’t a new story. This obsession with making women feel ashamed of their bodies is an ongoing, deep-rooted, societal issue, but it’s one which makes me so grumpy. You see, I used the stretch mark creams. I even had gestational diabetes with two of my three children which restricted my weight gain in the third trimester for each pregnancy. Lucky me (insert sarcasm here). I had three c-sections in under four years and I’ve been ravaged. At my heaviest, with my second child, I was 106 kilos. I am now 75 kilos. According to the BMI, I am still overweight and will be until I lose another seven kilos. I continue to address that on a daily basis.
I know many women who have had babies and, regardless of what shape or size they were, their body sprung back into their pre-baby shape. I know some Mums who have had to have surgery to pull their tummy muscles back into place. And women, like me, who were blessed with stretch marks, extensive scarring, an extended belly and an extra-floppy flap of skin hanging under my tummy which will not go away, no matter how many pilates classes or strict diets I participate in.
I am embarrassed by it. At times, I am ashamed. I wear control underwear and clothes which “skim my belly”. I diet. I exercise. Recently, I lost 10 kilos and I continue to battle with my weight issues. For months after each of my children were born I would always carry them with me so people wouldn’t ask how pregnant I was. My youngest is 16 months old now and it doesn’t work anymore. Now, I pull at my top and cringe when meeting new people, willing them not to ask “when my next baby is due”. I am not alone, I know others who have the same body issues and I want to tell the new Mums out there, these problems might be yours and you are not alone. You are not a freak.
This is quite possibly the most scary thing I’ve done as I am all too aware of what a woman’s body is “meant” to look like, but this is my belly. For me, this is my experience. This is my reality.
Every day I tell myself not to be horrified at what my body has transformed into. And not to buy into the bullshit pressure of magazines and “celebrity” weight loss ambassadors. I will not be wearing a bikini, no matter how dedicated I am. But you know what, I grew three of the most amazing people with this body. Three girls who I want to never be ashamed of their body. Three girls who I want to look at their body and feel confident and excited at its potential. Three girls who one day may grow their own little people. And for that, I am immensely proud.
How did pregnancy treat your body?