Having been out of work for a few months for maternity leave, I was overwhelmed by the attention that I got when I got back a few weeks ago. Everyone exclaimed at how different I look and I became increasingly frustrated as they commented on my weight gain. It doesn’t help that each morning has been a struggle as I look for something to wear. See I amassed outfits over the course of my entire career life and now thanks to childbirth none of them fit.
Nowadays there is intense pressure for women to look fab during pregnancy and once the baby is born it seems as if the race is on to get back into pre-pregnancy jeans, to shed the weight gained during pregnancy and to be beach ready – almost on discharge from hospital, it’s ridiculous!
I too succumbed to the pressure to bounce back quick but despite working out and eating healthy, I could not shake the baby weight fast enough to get back to my original size. I became increasingly self-conscious every time I had to leave the house to go anywhere. People constantly told me, “You’re young, you’ll snap back into shape quick” but there was no ‘bounce back’. The media didn’t help, with constant photos of celebs appearing to rapidly shrink back to their pre-baby size weeks after giving birth. I have just had enough of these quick post baby bounce backs that I see on social media.
Then one day it hit me that I do not owe anyone a flat stomach, a beach body or a fab post baby body. I thought what if I can’t lose the baby weight fast enough or at all? The media is quick to show us the “hottest Hollywood post-baby bods” forming an impression that losing baby weight is such an easy thing to do but what they do not show us is the teams of dieticians, personal chefs, trainers and sometimes surgeons working round the clock to help celebs burn off the kilos.
Can society just give women a break!! Actress Anne Hathaway once said, the only appropriate thing to say to any new mom is, “You look great!”, if you have nothing positive to say to me please shut up. I can totally relate how frustrating it can be to explain the slow body change after having a baby. It took ten months to grow a baby in your body, to gain all of that weight, there is no way you will go back to normal overnight. We need to give ourselves a break and stop buying into the media fascination with women’s bodies.
Today I looked at my body in the mirror and realized what my body just did; I created life!! Who cares how long it takes to bounce back? I just made a human being? Why can’t people focus on that and celebrate women’s strength to bring life?? Instead, society and media celebrate the model who bounced back in a month eating fruits and salads.
In the real world, most women will never get their pre-baby bodies back, their lives will never be the same don’t recall our mothers being worried about their post baby body. In fact in the beginning no one knew anything about what they were supposed to look like. There was no perfect body or body goals. Then came the media with the perfect body and now we all aspire to be something the media created.
So instead of aspiring to achieve an unrealistic image that the media is forcing on me, I have decided that body bounce-back is not a thing in my world anymore. Body empowerment is. Loving who I am at this moment is my goal. I will work out and eat well not to shed baby weight quick but because I need to stay healthy.
All women have insecurities and they will be exaggerated with age and life milestones particularly childbirth but it’s up to us to decide how to respond to the body shamers. Society may not be kind to women but I challenge you to love yourself at every stage of your life.