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Unrealistic Body Image for New Moms

Our society is saturated with unrealistic images and photo-shopped bodies.
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As a mom of a little girl, I need to figure out how I’m going to teach her the ridiculousness of it all.  How fake the pictures are and how what we see in magazines and advertisements is the creation of fiction.  Lately, though, my attention has been drawn to this obsession with celebrities and their post-baby bodies.  Let’s not also forget about the celebrities who pose while pregnant; the recent picture of Jessica Simpson on the cover of Ellemagazine comes to mind, showcasing her bare belly.  She looks great, but how much of this photograph is real?

The magazines and the Internet are filled with pictures of ladies such as Mariah, Beyonce, and Jessica Alba with their amazing post-baby bodies.   There is always that photograph of a new mom in the tiny bikini splashing in the waves at the beach or the first appearance after having the baby wearing a tight dress.  All I wore for months post-baby were my maternity jeans and t-shirts.  Why are we praising these unattainable post-baby bodies?  Why does no one note that slimming down too quickly isn’t healthy for women?  Why is the first priority to “slim down” as quickly as possible after birth?  It isn’t natural.

Why doesn’t our society acknowledge the enormity (pun intended) of pregnancy and all that goes with it?  A woman’s body changes in so many ways and I feel like the media expects that two weeks after baby arrives, women should be rocking the skinny jeans.  It bothers me.  I mean, you are, after all, growing a human being in there!

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After an unexpected c-section with my first baby, I took a good six weeks just to heal and feel human.  My concern was not about how I looked but more about how to navigate motherhood.  There are some frightening pictures from those early mommy days.  Most days I looked like a very sleepy slob.  Isn’t that what new motherhood is all about?  Embrace it.  There will be exhaustion, there will be leaky parts, and there will be bad hair days. It’s OK.  Celebrities, however, are not pictured this way and instead are held up to some ridiculous standard which no real mom has the energy to think about.  Women are awarded some kind of badge of honor because of how quickly they return to their previous form.  Why is this valued so much?

It seems that this only creates negative feelings for the regular women out there having children without a live-in personal trainer, a chef, and a nanny.  Why can’t we let nature take its course so that women can enjoy the beginnings of motherhood without the added pressure of fitting back into their pre-baby jeans?  How about appreciating all that the body accomplishes throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the marathon that is nursing?

I found it depressing that Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam on The Office, had to defend herself at the SAG Awards regarding that fact that four months after having her baby, her body was not back to pre-baby form.  Finally we see an authentic picture of what motherhood looks like.  I applaud her for being honest and real.  I feel bad that the focus wasn’t on her beautiful new baby, but instead on how she has “struggled” to lose her baby weight.

It seems to me that, again, wide-stream media has got it wrong.  Obsessing about how skinny you become after birth should not be the focus.  Instead, let’s concentrate on healthy bodies and happy babies.  That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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What do you think?  What does this say about our society and how much body image plays a role?


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