Well, it’s been a few weeks since I had a baby and you’ll be relieved
to know I’m back in my size 6 white jeans. Yay, me. Also, I’m doing
triathlons to blitz those last few pesky grams of baby weight. Isn’t
Oh wait. It seems I’ve been watching too much E! News while
breast-feeding and am confusing myself with Nicole Kidman and Jennifer
Lopez. Silly, sleep-deprived me.
In actual fact, I’ve never owned a pair of size 6 white jeans except
maybe when I was, you know, six. Such a small item of clothing would
certainly be of no use to me now except to use as a burping cloth. And
a triathlon? That’s just funny.
Here’s the thing. Since giving birth, my body has not done much
bouncing back (although it’s been doing a fair bit of bouncing, if, by
bouncing, you mean jiggling). I have not blitzed my baby weight. And
apparently, this makes me different to every celebrity mother who has
ever drawn breath. That’s what the magazines shriek at me week after
week and I hate them for it.
May I make a heartfelt plea to the famous new mothers of the world? KEEP YOUR BLOODY GEAR ON AND STOP POSING FOR THOSE SMUG ‘HOW-I-LOST-MY-BABY-WEIGHT!” STORIES. ALSO? WOULD IT KILL YOU TO STAY OFF RED CARPETS FOR SIX MONTHS?
Seeing you show off impossibly flat stomachs and slim hips in tight frocks and skimpy bikinis does not endear you to those of us who don’t have access to personal trainers, private chefs, discreet liposuction and oodles of time.
Fact: Losing lots of weight means eating dramatically less and exercising dramatically more. Neither of which is compatible with breast-feeding or any other new-mother activities like, says, staying awake and remembering your own name. So the celebrity standard truly is a joke. A not-funny joke.
I have a friend who recently had twins. For that alone, I believe she is a hero. The fact she managed to leave the house when they were a few months old for two hours of retail therapy? That deserves a commemorative stamp.
With the babies at home and her hands free, my friend should have had a lovely outing. This is the text she sent me:
“In change-room. Nothing fits. Stupid sales girl just asked ‘When is your baby due?’. Leaking milk on tops. Want to cry.”
Oh sister, I’ve been there. Last time I had a baby, a sales girl asked me the when-are-you-due question. The answer was “Two months ago”. I did not buy anything.
But we shouldn’t blame sales girls. We should blame celebrities. And gossip magazines. Oh yes we should. Somehow, famous women and the mags that chronicle their bodies have turned post-partum weight loss into a spectator sport. And along the way, they’ve recalibrated our idea of What A New Mother Looks Like, one pair of teeny white jeans and one triathlon at a time. Well done! Society now has a totally warped perception of how a female body should look after giving birth.
But look, I also blame myself for giving a toss about wobbly bits instead of being grateful to my body for carrying and feeding my beautiful baby. More fool me.
It’s not like there’s any imperative for me to look a certain way. I have no deadline. I don’t have to slink down a Victoria’s Secret catwalk in lingerie like Heidi Klum did three weeks after giving birth to her second baby. I don’t have to chair a 20/20 summit, like Cate Blanchett, three days after her third. I don’t have to go to Starbucks like Nicole Kidman did, right after Sunday Rose was born. No red carpets beckon. No paparazzi care.
“So what’s your problem, you vain twit?” I hear you say, rolling your eyes. “Just put down your silly magazines and stop comparing yourself. It’s a pointless exercise in superficial angst.”
You and your rolling eyes are right. But it’s too late. There’s an impossible benchmark in my head and I can’t delete it.
This is the message I have subliminally absorbed from a decade of celebrity photos: ‘Immediately after giving birth you must delete all physical evidence of the miracle your body has performed. Except maybe boobs. OK, your boobs can be huge. But only boobs. Your stomach must instantly retract until it’s flat, preferably before you leave hospital on day two looking glowing and immaculate. As for extra weight anywhere else, well, you shouldn’t have put it on in the first place. You mean you weren’t just a cute little compact baby bump? You and your back fat should be ashamed of yourselves.’
One day last week, after having a big bowl of masochism for breakfast, my back fat and I recklessly decided to try on some of my pre-pregnancy jeans. Big mistake. Huge. Wrong way go back.
I was lulled into this delusional idea by the heady combination of sleep deprivation and Katie Holmes’ baggy jeans. While I was wearing maternity kaftans, she seems to have made them cool again. “I have baggy jeans too!” I rejoiced. “I can be cool!”. Until I tried to put them on and discovered they were no longer baggy. Bummer, that.
So the next day, I decided to wave the white flag and put on some of my maternity jeans. Dizzy with comfort, I vowed to ditch my scales and my stupid celebrity standards. There are far more important places to divert my angst, after all. Sarah Palin anyone?