Clarification: As is sometimes (often?) the case, this post was not well received and didn’t communicate the message I intended. For me, the post-baby weight-loss “rat race” is embodied by the magazine covers we are bombarded with in the grocery checkout line that talk about how every starlet has her pre-baby body back weeks or days after having a baby. It is not losing the weight that it is the problem, it is communicating to women that it is their responsibility to get a form of their body back as soon as possible after having a baby. Women recovering from the experience of childbirth do not need that kind of pressure on top of everything else. With my first baby, I didn’t start working hard to lose weight until about 8 months post-partum. That’s when I got serious about exercise, and took a good hard look at what I was eating. And our lifestyle/habits changed for the better because of it! This time around, I had a much harder time with the ways my body was altered due to pregnancy. I was ready to get to it very shortly after my daughter was born. What I want to communicate is that no way is better. Don’t lose the weight at all, take your time in doing it, have it off within weeks of having a baby (for some women like my friend Molly it’s a very different experience from my own). What we should stop doing is saying to each other “You look like you didn’t even have a baby!*” With that, we reinforce the idea that the way a woman changes with pregnancy is a negative thing, and that the goal is to have a pre-baby body at all times. I think talking about weight loss success is great, and I will continue to do so (both because it’s a nice way to pay myself on the back, and because I think it’s helpful to read what other people have found success in). Talking about weight loss in a manner that reinforces the idea that women should look like they never had a baby in the first place is what should be eliminated from our discourse.
*I am guilty of this as well.
We love Breaking Bad. It is one of the most complex, interesting, frustrating shows I have ever seen. I am ashamed to admit that while working my way through the series I couldn’t stop thinking about Skyler’s weight gain (Skyler is the leading female in the series, wife of Walter White). She looks so different between seasons 1 and 4 and… frankly there is no excuse. Somewhere deep in my brain I expect television stars to look exactly the same year after year (often expecting them to measure up to impossible standards of beauty and fitness without even realizing it), when in the past 4 years I have gained and lost over 200 lbs. If I don’t see someone for 6 months I look like a completely different person!
I was working on a post about my post-partum weight loss as I thought about Skyler and the way I (apparently) expect her to look, and I came across an article about Jenna Fischer and her thoughts on moms and the pressure to lose baby weight:
“There’s so much pressure on you as a new mom that the last thing you need to have hanging over your head is some expectation of what your body is supposed to look like. I actually think that the scrutiny of new mothers bodies has gotten out of control.”
I read this and realized that by titling my upcoming post something like “pre-baby weight by 5 months post-partum” (as I had planned) I was feeding into this frenzy. Who the frack cares when it happened? Even better, who frickin’ cares if it happens at all? I don’t owe the world post-baby weight loss and neither do any of you. I’m happy it happened, I’m going to keep going, I’m going to share what I did because I think it might help others. But I’m not going to compete in that race.
And neither should Skyler (Anna Gunn). She’s a badass no matter what she weighs.