If that was the price for a better body, I wasn’t willing to pay it.
In my work as an entertainment writer, some of the easiest stories are the post-baby body reveals.
You know the type: “Within three days of delivery, Celebrity Person shed any trace her womb housing a growing baby for the past 10 months! Look at those abs!”
It’s a simple enough set-up, too. You tease with an above-the-shoulders picture on the website homepage and then include the big reveal picture in the article. Fill it out with Celebrity’s latest comment about motherhood, and voila! Instant views.
I knew that the women who “bounced back” from delivery so quickly were exceptions to the rule, but I stifled the nagging voice that told me these posts weren’t quite right. I told myself they were like watching the ringleader at a circus announce, “And now, the amazing new mom!”
No harm in that, right?
Then I had my first child and my whole perspective changed.
The dirty truth about how detrimental those post-baby-body stories are to women hit me one week after my son’s birth, when a photographer came over to take newborn pictures.
As she snapped a few family photos, there I was wearing my maternity pants, a bra that could accommodate my painfully-engorged breasts, and the makeup I was able to put on in the span of two minutes.
What about those who read my post-baby body stories and felt compelled to emulate the celebrities — only to fall into the same trap?
Yet, with a little photo editing magic, she managed to brush away the circles beneath my eyes and use some lighting effect that made me look pretty decent.
But, simply put, it wasn’t reality. More importantly, it shouldn’t be reality.
These days, I would much rather be recognized for how I’m doing as a mom, partner, and functioning person who occasionally gets out of the house without too much spit-up on her shirt.
Still, I’m a human with vanities, and I do have those flattering family pictures on my wall. There are also those moments when I’m scrolling through my Facebook news feed and come across another one of those post-baby body reveals.
As I sit there with my nearly-six-months-postpartum stomach squished beneath the waistband of some forgiving pants, I can’t help but hear a nagging comparison. Maybe it’s been too long for me, I think. Even if I can’t look like that, shouldn’t I be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by now?
Around three-months postpartum, I gave in: I downloaded a food diary app and started controlling my daily calorie consumption.
Almost immediately, my exhaustion ramped up, my milk supply went down, and I found myself feeling irritable.
I also recognized the voice that urged me to overlook my hunger pangs. It’s the same one that spoke to me so often when I was in the throes of an eating disorder.
I quickly decided if that was the price for a better body, I wasn’t willing to pay it.
I now wonder, What if I hadn't been able to recognize how problematic that behavior was? What about those who read my post-baby body stories and felt compelled to emulate the celebrities — only to fall into the same trap?
It pains me to see what a hypocrite I was being by promoting body acceptance while still writing those stories.
While I can’t go back and erase all the stories I wrote, I can change what I do going forward.
That’s why I’m swearing off post-baby body stories for good.