The last few months of my life have been crazy, so I’m just now sitting down to respond to some comments made on my Facebook page that left me feeling a little… Unsettled. It was over a post I did last December. I thought I was being positive and encouraging to postpartum women, but some didn’t see it that way.
Woah. No. Reading those comments was gut-wrenching.
Now I want to clear this up. First I’ll address the body shaming part, then I’ll get to the anger.
I was deeply saddened that my words were read as body shaming. If you’ve followed my page for any amount of time I hope that you would know body shaming is the opposite of what I stand for.
The message I was trying to convey is this: a woman’s body springing back quickly after pregnancy does not mean she is healthier, fitter, or more beautiful than a woman whose body doesn’t. It has everything to do with her unique body. Period.
And why does it matter?
That post was for all the women out there who have felt like I did after my first baby – a little shocked and a little ashamed about my post-baby body. When I had my first son the only other photo floating around of a postpartum stomach was Heidi Klum’s on the Victoria’s Secret runway. I remember looking at her photo and looking at my own stomach and thinking… What have I done wrong? [Insert additional self-destructive body loathing comments here].
In my next pregnancy I swore that wouldn’t happen. I was going to be Ms. Fit & Pregnant. I was never going to be a big fat whale ever again (because you know, 35-40lbs in pregnancy is completely unacceptable). The determination to be back in my pre-baby body skin within weeks after giving birth overtook me. I was strict with my diet. I was working out and running five days a week. I was lifting heavy weights, doing planks, push-ups, and burpees right into my third trimester (I found out later this is a very bad idea, and this is why). I was awesome, right? Well… Not so much. At around 7.5 months pregnant I had to give it all up because my body was a mess. I could barely get out of bed without pain. And after I had my second son I tried to pick up where I left off… But my body was broken. I peed my pants the first time I tried to run. My abdominal muscles (my introduction to diastasis recti) had split from sternum to pelvis. It was horrifying. And the road to recovery was long.
(By the way, exercise in pregnancy is a fantastic idea, but you need to know what you’re doing!)
So when late last year these two photos went viral, I could only imagine how it left some women feeling. And I wanted to offer support.
Which leads me to the angry part.
You were right about me. I am angry. But my anger isn’t directed at these women, it’s directed at the media and our image-driven society in general. My anger drives me, on this blog, to go beyond educating women about health and fitness and offer comfort and a voice of reason. Listen up:
You (and I) are worthy of the same praise and admiration that the above women received, no matter what our bodies looked like after giving birth.
Why does it matter what we look like? After birthing three babies I’m still in awe of what my body is capable of. THAT is what should be celebrated, not the quick return to pre-baby form.
It wasn’t the photos making me angry. It was the hype surrounding the photos. These photos going viral are an indication of what our society and the media have come to value:
Let me rephrase that: fit-looking bodies.
Because there are millions of fit women out there who lead healthy lives and had healthy pregnancies and don’t fit into the media’s idea of a how a “fit woman” should look. Check out these fit women!
Yes it’s exciting when you’re back in your pre-pregnancy jeans. Yes it’s nice when your tummy starts shrinking. But the time that takes doesn’t mean you are more or less than the next woman. And maybe you’re never back into your pre-pregnancy jeans. The only thing that means is… You are uniquely you. We all have different body types, time constraints, schedules, support networks, dietary preferences, etc. How our bodies respond to pregnancy and child birth is completely unique to our bodies. My friend Lorraine wrote a great blog post about different post baby bodies.
Sometimes it seems a pregnant woman’s biggest fear is “letting herself go” after having children. Take this comment for example, which was made on Molly Galbraith’s Facebook page a few days ago.
I debated stopping breastfeeding this beautiful new baby JUST so I could diet hard-core, take supplements that would rev my metabolism, and pump myself full of pre-workouts.
(PS – this story ends well as the woman had a body revelation – woop woop!)
Shouldn’t our biggest fears be that our children will be safe, healthy, protected, nourished?
Please don’t do what I did, and hurt yourself in your mission to look like someone else.
I feel strongly that it’s unnatural to be worried about the size and appearance of our bodies immediately after having a baby. This is something that was taught to us, from the time we were little girls. Or more eloquently stated, shoved down our throats by the internet and trashy magazines.
Despite these women being celebrities (or whatever they are) they struggle after having a baby just the same as you or I do. They have sleepless nights, sore nipples, crying babies, self-doubt, fears, shame, anxiety, and depression. What bothers me about the pictures is that they are often spun by the media to make women FEEL something. And this is on purpose. Because it captures your attention. It gets clicks, likes, follows, shares. Don’t fall for it.
So yes I’m angry. And maybe you should be too. What can we do? For starters stop supporting the magazines, websites, and newspapers that publish this filth to begin with. Second, love yourself. Period. There’s nothing wrong with loving the body you have even while wanting to change it. I have physique goals I’m nowhere near yet but I’m certainly not going to hate my body until I reach them. Love your body, treat it well. It has brought you this far. Be thankful for that.
I called my blog Mama Lion Strong, not the Dalai Lama Strong. This blog was born from a ferocious desire to show myself and other women that the term “strong” extends far beyond the physical image our society has attached to it. I get emotional sometimes, angry on occasion (especially when I feel there is something unjust going on). There’s nothing wrong with that. I used to be a person that denied and buried my emotions. I’m not that person anymore. And frankly, it’s such a relief!! This is me and it’s what makes me uniquely me! I’m proud of me. :)
My closing note is this: Curious about body transformation pictures? Have a look at mine. Remember…. A picture is JUST a picture!!