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baby and me, and jenny makes three

In addition to the baby-birthing that tends to accompany pregnancies, it seems that losing weight immediately post-pregnancy and becoming a spokesperson for Jenny Craig have likewise become implicit results of having a child. For celebrities anyway.

Scary Spice did it, with the website stating that “to help ‘outsource’ the trouble of losing her baby bump she’s turned to the experts – Jenny Craig – so she can get back to being a “Yummy Mummy”.” As though new mothers don’t already have enough to do, what with the crying and the feeding and the caring, they also have to be yummy (and if you’re Miranda Kerr, you somehow end up yummIER post-pregnancy, and not in that “she’s so gorgeous, she glows from happiness” way, but in a “how does she now have bigger breasts than I do?” way).

After losing over 30kg in the six months since giving birth, Mariah Carey has now likewise become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. However, she insists that it’s really about health, and that “remembering to eat was one of her biggest challenges”, which, incidentally, has never been an obstacle for me in trying to lose weight.

But I digress.

My mother once told me in jest that I was to blame for the fact that she hasn’t ever returned to her pre-pregnancy weight. And I believe her. Not that I was to blame, but that pregnancy, for all of its miracle-life-giving, changed her body. I’m sure that there may have been ways for her to return to her former slight figure, but my mum has what I call a normal person’s job (actually, that’s not true; my mum is a senior lecturer in electrical engineering and the only woman in her department, so I think it’s more appropriately termed a totally-wicked-because-she’s-super-smart-and-amazing job). What I mean by normal person’s job is one where the perception of her ability to perform well at work isn’t directly affected by her appearance or weight, and thus dieting and working out to an inch of her life probably weren’t a huge priority, especially when she had an adorable little baby with a full head of hair to gush over.

But if she had been a public figure whose career was dependent on her maintaining a certain body shape, I’m sure she accordingly would’ve had a nutritionist, personal trainer, live-in cook and whoever else might help facilitate quick weight loss.

Of course, I don’t agree with people receiving admiration and praise for being genetically blessed and maybe dragging their arse to a gym a couple of times a week, but in the framework that celebrity and pop culture currently operate, this is how we generally award accolade, particularly to women. This is something I have a lot of opinions about, but what makes this phenomenon even more damaging, both after pregnancy and more generally, is that it’s presented as effortless.

Presumably to keep up the illusion of glamour, very few celebrities are forthcoming about the lengths they go to in order to lose weight. Mila Kunis even said back in August that the key to successful weight loss was that “you just have to want to do it” (a comment that made it substantially more difficult for me to keep loving her) after dropping the kilos for her role in Black Swan. Granted, she also said at the end of 2010 that she had been on a punishing diet and exercise regime in order lose 9kg and “looked disgusting”, but this does make you wonder why she’s now whistling a different tune. Perhaps she’s forgotten, or (more likely, I suspect) she and/or her publicist have realised that making people believe you simply wake up every day looking the way you look in movies is a much more effective strategy for getting people to want to be/desire you (which, in turn, is quite an effective strategy for getting them to see your films).

The pressure that is placed upon women to bounce back to their pre-baby bodies is horrific, and overshadows how amazing it is that we can grow and sustain a little person inside us if we so choose. But when we look at famous women whose perfect-according-to-our-limited-standards-of-beauty figures seem to be maintained with little to no effort, it’s worth remembering how much they have riding on their looks, how much money they can spend on getting expert help to lose weight, and that just because they’re famous doesn’t mean their bodies work any differently to those of us normal people. Because not only do they need to keep trim for their jobs, they also need to pretend that the biggest challenge in doing so is remembering to eat.

(Image credit: 1.)

3 thoughts on “baby and me, and jenny makes three

  1. we were actually warned constantly in prenatal classes that losing the weight too quickly could have serious repurcussions for our health – and our looks!
    lots of mums who head straight to the gym lose the weight – but end up with lots of loose skin because it doesn’t have time to adjust. ewww.
    perhaps thats not a problem for those for whom plastic surgery counts as career development.

    as for me, early parenthood was such a shock to the system that I’m actually a lot thinner now. but that doesn’t mean healthier. my complete lack of organised exercise means i don’t feel as strong or as flexible.

  2. Thank God for an article like this! The thing that frustrates me the most about seeing celebrities bounce by to pre-pregnancy weight, it that is unattainable for the average woman. We have to deal with the stretch marks, saggy stomach, forever, or until we have another child. Might I add, that this is okay. We are human. Celebrities, might as well be alien…

  3. I lost over 7% of my body weight in first trimester due to pregnancy nausea, and gained less than the weight of my baby + placenta by the end of it. It may have contributed to my problems with premature laboure. It definitely contributed to my problems with looking and feeling like the walking dead. But once the baby was born and I was left with a smaller frame and no baby bump, everyone asked me how I managed to look so fabulous. I finally got positive feedback from other women, during that early parenting stage when new mothers are so vulnerable and wonder if they’re getting anything right. It’s a wonder I didn’t end up with an eating disorder to stay that way (I’ve gained it all back and more, and feel much healthier now).

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