As I checked out of the grocery store this weekend, I was greeted with three magazine covers with women showing off post baby bodies. I may have made a strangled sound of frustration that I had to disguise as a cough.
Have you seen these covers? I’m not picturing them here, but next time you are in the store, take a gander. I’m taking the liberty of giving my own captions.
Kim Kardashian: Look! I’m in a bikini less than two months after having a baby and I’m dead sexxxxxxxy!
Jessica Simpson: Look! I had a second baby and lost 25 pounds and am even wearing WHITE to show it off, boiiiii.
Kate Middleton: Look! I had a baby and according to tradition, had to come out of the hospital and be photographed one day later. Despite this challenge, I’m aglow with baby-love and rocking a dress that reveals that I look like a normal woman that had a baby one day ago.
Lest you get the wrong idea, I honestly don’t want to knock Kim or Jessica or anyone else. We should celebrate whenever any woman feels great after having a baby, whether it’s her first or tenth. It feels amazing to shed that weight and feel at home in your body again. (Because pregnancy doesn’t always feel beautiful and neither do those postpartum days and weeks.) Rather, what struck me was how women (even celebrities like Kim and Jessica included) have been duped into feeling like there is some kind of race to get your body back. NOT because it feels great to do so (it does!) or because it is healthy (it is!) to shed any excess weight. We are racing with our post baby bodies because we are comparing ourselves with those other women around us who are also racing.
Who wins this race? NO ONE.
When we make post-baby bodies into a race, we begin to compare. (Click to Tweet!) And no matter how great you look or feel, when you compare yourself in that way to other women, someone is always going to be better, thinner, curvier, hotter, whatever-er than you are. Comparing yourself to another mom’s body shape, size, or the time it took to get there is not going to help you feel comfortable in your own skin. You will never be content if you are basing satisfaction on comparison.
When we make post-baby bodies into a race, we lose focus. Again, I don’t want to make this about judgment, but I did wonder how many hours Kim and Jessica spent with trainers. While there can be a healthy balance of exercise and eating healthy, putting too much emphasis to get back your body fast means your focus might be on that instead of the joy (and all the other powerful emotions) that come with a new baby. I desperately need to be getting to the gym. But I also love the moments where I am instead snuggling a warm baby who is too quickly losing that new-baby smell. If we are racing for our post-baby bodies, the focus might be there instead of on the preciousness of new life.
When we make post-baby bodies into a race, we encourage other women to do the same. The only way this keeps being a race is if we all keep signing up. We buy the magazines and buy into the mentality and together, we keep ourselves running. I know that Kate Middleton probably had no choice but to appear with her baby a day after delivery. But she didn’t wear a tent or hide behind a coat or a well-placed plant. She rocked out a dress that showed her figure. And people were astonished. Why? Because no women do this. Especially not the famous, beautiful women that other women (and also little girls) want to emulate. It seems that people may not have known this is what most women look like 24 hours after having a baby. I loved this, because when you put those magazine covers next to one another, it puts a stop to the race. Kate Middleton looks beautiful and aglow and exactly how a mother should. It made those other headlines look desperate and revealed the race for what it is: a lie that we need to stop spreading.
Please, be healthy after having a baby. Lose your goal weight. Exercise. Eat well. You’ll feel great doing so! But don’t start racing against that magazine cover or your best friend or that woman two houses down with the great abs. No one wins this race and I’m pretty sure there is no finish line in sight.(Click to Tweet!)