For the past month, I have been snuggled up at home with my little girl…feeding, burping, changing diapers, attempting to sleep, and rediscovering where all aspects of my life converge and just exactly who that makes me.
The serious levels of sleep deprivation had almost, almost helped me to forget what would come next.
For every request to hold the baby, for every coo and ooh and ahh over her chubby little rolls comes commentary on mine. With the exception of close friends and family (who know me well!), I have been bombarded with commentary on my post-baby body with the main topics either being congratulations on how quickly I have lost “all of that weight” / how good I’m looking “now,” or asking if I’m glad to finally be able to get my body back.
My internal snark looks something like this:
WHERE DID MY BODY GO?
Did someone steal it?
I could have sworn I had an ass here somewhere…I’m sorry…weren’t you one of the people asking me if I was sure I was pregnant and not just really full?
Aside from it being entirely inappropriate and none-of-their-business, what does that say about our culture that that is what we are most interested in talking about with a new mother? The drive to “get our bodies back” after giving birth is more often less about reclaiming a sense of control over our physical abilities and appearance and more about returning to a socially acceptable size as quickly as possible, apologizing and offering guilt-laden excuses when we fall short.
Where do you think the “Mommy Makeover” came from? I can give you a hint: us sleep-deprived, nervous, baby-focused Mommies didn’t come up with it. We couldn’t. That would require, you know, brain power…and most of that has been temporarily redirected towards Tiny Squawking Spawn in our arms.
No…the need to push women toward “reclaiming” their bodies as soon as possible is yet another example of being played by the media market following that nagging “you should” voice in our heads.
Since having Maye, I have taken all of four baths/showers (don’t do the math), slept roughly 3-5 hours/night in broken chunks, eaten a diet consisting primarily of turkey sandwiches, peaches, Ho-Hos, and pasta, been outside maybe 10 times, and haven’t even had a chance to think about (ahem) personal maintenance. As this is my third child (and I own a TV), I am confident that this is a common experience for new mothers. Why, then, are we being asked about how quickly we want to slim down? Is that truly all we are good for?
I think that’s a large part of why I’m so excited to start working on – and ultimately reaching – my body goals; I can’t wait to smash the commonly held belief of what a fat body can and cannot do. I want those conversations, where people see me modeling and extreme sport-ing and hiking and chasing my kids and <insert whatever else Fat Bodies aren’t supposed to be able to do>-ing, and challenge them to realign their understanding of what “healthy” is with real life indicators and not what the media wants to sell us or an inaccurate medical tool.
Then, I want those conversations to spread.
I want to hear about people taking this information and way of thinking back to their doctors, their personal trainers, their friends and their families.
I want to log in to Facebook and see my friends and family sharing articles from popular websites, independent bloggers and medical journals all about being Fat & Fit, Skinny & Healthy, Tattooed & Hired, ADHD & CEO-material, Pierced & Respected, Muscled & Brainy, Weak & Capable.
Then, one day, I want to compliment a new mother on accomplishing the monumental task of Leaving The House With A Newborn without seeing the flash of shock and relief in her eyes, knowing that she doesn’t have to discuss her body with a perfect stranger, but can just commiserate with a fellow mother.
Until then, I hope you’ll do your part by considering what your words are promoting and searching for ways to affirm those around you in a way that doesn’t secretly set them back.