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The new mummy weight loss industry rolls on...

UPDATE 10th November: Mariah Carey has just been announced as the latest face/body of Jenny Craig at a press conference where she ‘unveiled’ her ‘new body’. Ugh.

Clearly, Jenny Craig have identified new mothers as their newest lucrative market and are tapping the shoulders of famous new mothers (as early as 5 weeks after giving birth in the case of Mel B), signing them up to spruik the weight loss plan.

Fairfax reports:

Mariah Carey has shown off her post baby body and announced she is the new spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.

The 42-year-old singer gave birth to twins, Monroe and Moroccan in April of this year and has been battling to lose the weight ever since.

Carey said that as well as eating the Jenny Craig products she cooked her own meals, worked out for 45 minutes four or five days a week and although she does not know how much she weighs she is happy now being a US size 4 to 6.

Mel B at a breakfast launch in Sydney to announce her partnership with Jenny Craig

New mothers ARE a potentially lucrative market – because they’re vulnerable, sleep-deprived and wrestling with issues of body image more than at any other time in a woman’s life except possibly adolescence. It can be very challenging and many women do want to lose weight. I get that.

But call me a cynic (CYNIC!) but I highly doubt that the celebrity experience of Jenny Craig is the same as a regular new mother. Just like the life of a celebrity – with access to personal trainers, chefs, stylists, flexible working hours and a phalanx of support systems – bears any resemblance to the real life of the rest of us after we’ve given birth.

I’m dismayed by the way new mothers are being targeted like this. Are you?

Last month, I wrote:

Five weeks ago Mel B had a baby. Her third. Today, she has been announced as the new face of Jenny Craig, a weight loss company.

Here’s the Mamamia on Sky News episode in which Sam interviewed Mel B:

What’s wrong with this picture? PLENTY. Every woman has the right to determine her own weight. Whatever. But I’ve had a gutful of the way new mothers are constantly coerced, guilted and even bullied by the media, celebrities and the weight loss industry into erasing every physical sign THAT THEY JUST GAVE BIRTH TO A HUMAN.

It takes 9 months to grow and deliver a baby. Why the hell is there an expectation that it should take weeks to ‘bounce back’?

Bodies don’t bounce after giving birth. Maybe yours did. Fine. But please know that you are the exception not the rule.

The vast majority of women take months or years to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy. Nutritionists recommend you take a year and do it slowly.

And some of us never get back to the weight – or shape – we were before becoming mothers. And that’s OK.

But my biggest frustration is that there is an emphasis on weight at all. There are enormous challenges that come with having a baby. There are huge mental, emotional, logistical and hormonal adjustments to be made. Some women find this easy. Many don’t. And I daresay that if your life is not changed by becoming a mother, something is very very wrong.

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I am constantly appalled by the industry – the diet industry and and the magazine industry – who prey upon the enormous vulnerability of pregnant women and new mothers in order to sell them the bullshit idea that the most important thing you can do after giving birth is focus on your body and the scales.

They do this to sell weight loss products and magazines and it’s abhorrent.

And they do it with dirty tricks such as photoshop to fake before and after pictures and make you think every other new mother in the world has ‘bounced back’ except you.

Oh, and will magazines STOP running pictures of pregnant celebrities as ‘before’ shots? We need to stop this obsession with comparing and contrasting bodies. It’s unhelpful, unnecessary and can cause extreme anxiety for women who have enough on their plate trying to make milk, get sleep and all the other huge adjustments that come after becoming a mother.

You know what the human body looks like after giving birth? It still looks pregnant. A lot like this:

Jools Oliver

But do magazines show those kinds of photos? No. They perpetuate rubbish and lies like this:

Kourtney Kardashian retouched on the cover of OK! magazine

And this:

Kendra

The most important thing you do after having a baby is NOT to lose weight. It’s to prioritise the mental and physical health of your baby and yourself. So while Mel B is entitled to take whatever money she can get from weight loss companies to spruik their products, we need to provide support, encouragement and nurturing for new mothers and pregnant women.

We must keep telling each other and ourselves that we are NOT what we weigh. And that getting ‘back’ to some number on a scale is not the most important thing. Nor is wearing a bikini.

Every mother will tell you that you are forever changed after having a baby, inside and out. You wouldn’t WANT to be the same. And that applies to your body as well.

After three kids (heck, even after one),  my boobs aren’t as perky, my stomach will never be flat and my clothes don’t fit the same way they used to. But so what?

If you want to lose weight for your health then go for it. But don’t do it because you feel the pressure to conform to some impossible, fake media or celebrity ideal of what you should look like after you have a baby.

And celebrities? In the first year of your baby’s life, do the rest of us a favour and keep your clothes on. Stop answering questions about your post-baby diet and exercise routines and instead, help raise awareness of some of the other non-body related issues we all face after becoming new mums.

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