There used to be a time when you would see pictures of only celebrity moms holding their newborn baby in their arms, while flaunting their new mom thighs in their size 2 skinny jeans, just weeks after having given birth.
I want to say this phenomenon of blinking and losing baby weight began with superhuman Supermodel, Heidi Klum who pops out babies and then rushes back to the Victoria Secret runway. But really who can trace back the exact time people became this shallow?
We used to only expect this kind of crazy fast weight loss from famous people because well, they weren’t really considered as human as the rest of us. When in the blink of an eye moms like Jessica Alba and Victoria Beckham would bounce back to their pre-baby weight, we would think, “Wow, that is only possible for famous people.”
Well, times have changed. Somewhere between celebrities speaking more directly to their audience via social media platforms, and our booming reality TV culture, the boundaries between ordinary people and famous people got blurred.
Now not only do we expect celebrities to show no evidence of having grown a human being in their body, we expect the same of ourselves. The price of failure? Scrutiny and shame. While regular folks suffer in the hands of friends and family, celebrities suffer in our hands. Case in point: Bollywood icon and one of the world’s most beautiful women, Aishwariya Rai.
When Rai failed to drop her pregnancy pounds fast enough for her fans, the wrath unleashed upon her was loud and clear. The news even made headlines beyond India in Western press. Ironically, the disappointment and disgust people seemed to direct at Rai demonstrated more about ourselves than it revealed about her.
Columnist, Shobha Dee, attempted to explain the intense scrutiny against Rai in India by explaining that “Aishwarya is like a goddess. She is held up as the ideal of beauty and so there is an expectation for her to look perfect at all times.”
The sad fact is not only has our obsession with quick weight loss post-partum gone global, but the whole point of motherhood is getting skewed by our focus on how skinny you get and how fast. If this much pressure is put on us to lose weight, where is the time to celebrate what we have just accomplished? In case you had any doubts, giving birth is no easy task, people!
I remember looking at the mirror for the first time at my Caesarean scar, feeling the thick, pink flesh, the light purple stretch marks tracing the sides of my hips. I quietly laughed at the thought, and cost, of countless bottles of anti-stretch mark creams and oils I endlessly applied on myself during my pregnancy.
For a moment, I felt ashamed and sorry for myself. I mourned the body I had when I was 23. When I caught myself internalizing everything society tells women to be after becoming mothers, and compared it with the reality of having a child, I consciously turned my shame into pride.
I reminded myself that the changes in my body were beautiful because they were scars from the journey my body took to have my daughter. I made myself feel beautiful, and more importantly, I allowed myself to indulge in the strength of being a woman. I love that feeling.
Every time someone told me I still had weight to lose, or every time I caught myself holding a picture of myself in my 20’s, I reminded myself that nine months ago, I did not have a baby. I also remind myself that everything in my life has completely changed since I became a mom. My whole manner of thinking has altered, and for the better.
Yes, my hips are definitely bigger, but so is my heart. Growing a human being in your body and then focusing all your energy into losing weight after you give birth is not only unrealistic for the mass majority of us, but it is also unhealthy. Women should be congratulated after giving birth, not chided for how our bodies have changed.
Sadly, after watching what we have put one of the world’s most famous women through, the fact is that no woman is safe from suffering the same fate as Aishwariya.
*This post of mine was also published on Forbes Woman.