Celebrity mothers can make ordinary mothers feel inadequate and unworthy, a University of Melbourne study has found.
Dr Christina Malatzky spoke with 29 women (mothers and non mothers) from Western Australia about the concept of “yummy mummies” and how they intersect with their own ideas of motherhood.
One participant, Susannah explained to the researcher how “impeccable” celebrity mums presented in the media impacted on her ideas of motherhood.
“If you see a celebrity pregnant one day, you know within two months [after giving birth] they’re down to size 0…[it] does have an effect on people because you don’t see a celebrity slopping in their leggings, with greasy hair, and their moccasins on. They’re impeccable,” she said in the study.
The 32-year-old said she was especially conscious of her body after delivering a stillborn because she wanted it to return to normal – as soon as possible – but she was also distressed that physically it was like the pregnancy and birth had “never happened”.
Mum of three, Freya, 30, told Dr Malatzky there was pressure for mothers to look like they’ve never had children.
In the study another mum, Jennifer, 31, said she struggled for many years to accept her body after having two children.
The 31-year-old said it was disabling to realise that her body is was “never going to be exactly the same” when the mainstream motherhood message is that “you can do it”.
Dr Malatzky told The Herald Sun the yummy mummy stereotype was “unachievable for most women because it requires an exorbitant amount of time and energy”.
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She added that the attainment of the “yummy mummy” ideal often took women away from their babies and ran the risk of feeling as if they are selfish or being perceived as “bad mothers”.
Although Dr Malatzky found few alternative discourses available to women to critique the “yummy mummy” – she found mothers resisting the idea, often at the same time as desiring it.
The study comes as Seven launches a new TV show “Yummy Mummies” which follows wealthy mothers from pregnancy.
More than 22,ooo people have signed a petition to stop the reality show from airing.
The ABP says the reality show trailer, which has already aired, shows a scene portraying “discrimination against breastfeeding mothers”.
The petition authors want the scenes removed and say the show is “extremely damaging to our future generations”.