Now, I’m going to go ahead and hope – just hope – that this is a fake. Because, you know, that would be a ridiculous thing to put on a magazine cover less than 24 hours after someone has given birth, and no editor – no matter how blind to reality, sanity and, frankly, humanity – could be enough of an asshat (yep, that word again) to sign off on something like that.
But just in case I’m wrong and this is, in fact, a cover that will be on the newsstands tomorrow, I’m going to say a few things about baby weight and what I would theoretically be thinking were this an actual, real cover.
But again, I’m sure it isn’t. Because you’d have to be a douchey organisation of nigh-on Satanic proportions to do that.
So: baby weight.
According to the lovely world of women’s magazines, not losing your baby weight within a matter of hours after giving birth is a hideous crime. Apparently, mothers everywhere are lazy and stupid if they don’t find the time to immediately focus on ‘getting their figures back’ rather than doing all that irrelevant stuff like, y’know, feeding the baby.
I don’t have a baby. I imagine I’d be a pretty useless Mum, in all honesty, because quite frankly I barely find time to brush my hair as it is. I am disorganised and selfish, unlike my own Mum who, even now that I’m 25, still has to be on hand to remind me to do things like drinking plenty of water and wearing sunscreen. Seriously – she’s not in London, and I am sunburnt. This is totally related to my Mum not being here.
But I know a lot of people who do have babies, and they are heroes. As far as I can tell, pregnancy looks like hard work. It looks exhausting and wonderful in equal proportions. Then, there’s motherhood. That, as far as I can tell, looks pretty much the same.
But it utterly riles me that the female body should be looked at as anything less than an absolute f**king miracle over the course of the pregnancy-motherhood joruney. Because it is.
You’re creating life, for god’s sake. That is an amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing that should not, in any way, be dampened by worrying about what to wear, or whether you’ll have stretch marks, or how you’ll lose the weight afterwards. This just should not be a thing, pure and simple.
Now, a good friend of mine who is qualified to talk about the post-baby body sent me this message mid-June, and hell – she called it.
My body is a bit of a train wreck right now but of course I love it as it grew my son. I felt more confident than ever about my body while I was pregnant and all other concerns seemed so shallow – but I still would quite like to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes! I have stopped buying the shitty celeb magazines since being pregnant as I just can’t take their crap. Like criticising Kate Middleton for not putting on enough weight, others for putting on too much, and if she’s not back to her ‘normal’ size within 15 seconds of giving birth it’ll be all ‘Kate’s struggling to shift the pounds’ blah blah blah. And if she does she’ll be criticised for looking after herself rather than her baby. You really can’t win and it made me feel like crap.
Yuh-huh. Bearing in mind the turnaround time on an article like that, I’m going to guess that she was about 5 seconds out in her estimate of how long it’d be ’til the criticism started. I’m going to estimate at somewhere around 10.
Body-shaming, in itself, is bad enough. Fat-shaming is wrong, thin-shaming is wrong, shaming full stop (you guessed it) is wrong. And the baby-weight issue is the very pinnacle of the double-standards women are held to in this Dantean body-shaming circle of assholery. Don’t have a big enough bump? You’re doing pregnancy wrong. Don’t lose the weight within a week? You’re doing motherhood wrong. Not perfect? You’re doing womanhood wrong.
Were these people – these cowardly, shaming asshats – not informed that the whole stork delivery thing is a myth?
Because given the immense privileges afforded to mums like Kate Middleton, or Kim Kardashian, or any other person considered important enough to feature on the front of a rag like this, it’s still a whole world of pressure on already strained shoulders that they’re expected to bounce right back to a bikini body within weeks of giving birth.
In the real world, where there aren’t trainers on hand, nutritionists on speed dial, but simply a screaming baby and endless sleepless nights, with a supportive partner if you’re lucky, this expectation is, I assume, overwhelming, and enough to make you incredibly depressed. The immense effort it’s taken for me, with no baby, to lose weight, and the intense psychological process it’s taken for me to accept my flawed, stretch-marked, saggy post-weight-loss body, is one thing – but as I’ve said, I’m free enough to be selfish, and to take that kind of time out for myself.
Mums, on the other hand, aren’t in that kind of position. And they shouldn’t feel they need to be.
So I’m going to try, in my small way, from my little soap box in the darkest corner of the internet, to say a few things to new Mums everywhere – including my own – to counter this kind of disgusting behaviour from a magazine which, incredibly, is at the higher end of the rag hierarchy here in the UK.
So, to Mum, and mums everywhere:
You’re amazing. Your body has done something incredible. You’ve been brave, strong, powerful and your body is a symbol of what you brought into the world. You rock. Your stretch marks aren’t flaws, they’re reminders of what you made happen. If you’re carrying an extra few pounds, you probably shouldn’t give a f**k until you want to, and even then, if it’s not for you you’re doing it – screw it. Choose happiness.
Because your child is going to grow up and learn from you, so you should start loving your body right now. If it’s a boy, he’ll learn that self-confidence in a woman is a good thing. If it’s a girl, she’ll have a touchpoint when she’s trying to figure out if having a media-perfect body is the key to happiness. Either way, you’re empowering them to be better than the type of people that accept and write these kind of vile, horrible articles.
And finally, you are bloody beautiful. I’m thinking of all the pregnant ladies, and all the amazing mums, that I’m lucky to know – and those I don’t – and they’re all gorgeous. This is not up for debate, because it’s the truth. Nobody – but nobody – gives a flying f**k if you’re carrying an extra ten, twenty, thirty pounds. You’re busy. You’re changing the world.
So screw these magazines. Screw the shaming. Feel amazing, and be proud – because this is a cycle we can break, just so long as we look critically at, and don’t fall fall prey to, these utterly despicable asshats.
Of course, if you’d like to go one step further, feel free to contact OK Magazine yourself. Here’s the deets: