I don’t know about you but I’ve just about had enough of the pressure there is on mums (old and new) to get back to a ‘pre-baby’ state (read my previous post on why it’s time to get rid of the pressure to lose the baby weight). It seems to be that you are only good enough as a mum if you manage to erase all traces from your body that you had a baby in the first place. We praise women (celebrities in particular) if they manage to ‘snap’ back. Or look amazing in a bikini after giving birth. We’re bombarded with the message that we should lose the baby weight to feel good about ourselves again. Because obviously we shouldn’t feel good about ourselves if we don’t. Every baby site has articles on how you can get your pre-baby figure back again. One of the most mis-quoted virtues of breastfeeding is that it burns lots of extra calories to help you lose weight. As if this is the best reason to do it. And all of this, all of the pressure to lose the baby weight makes me so mad!
Enough is enough.
It’s just ridiculous and infuriating. Even articles that supposedly tell you how you can feel great about your post-baby body tend to focus on appearance. Not self confidence or building positive beliefs about yourself. Put make up on. Do your hair. Buy new sexy clothes that make you look attractive… The overall message is that you need to look good, to feel good.
And I have so many problems with that, that I don’t know where to start.
Firstly, who defines ‘looking good’? We seem to associate slim/toned/youthfulness with ‘good’ nowadays in a way that is shockingly unhealthy and judgemental. If you’re young and slim then you look great. If you’re bigger or more mature, well then not so much. Which is bollocks. You can absolutely look good if you aren’t a size 6. You don’t have to have a flat stomach to be incredibly attractive. And you don’t need to let someone else’s idea of what is beautiful be the bench mark against which you decide if you look good or not. Secondly, it ties our self esteem up with how we look. Which is in every way horrendous. I can’t think of anything more soul destroying than feeling that my self worth can only be measured by my appearance.
Not just because there is sooooooooo much more to me (and every woman) than how I look but also because my appearance will change. I can’t stop getting older and it’s a bit late to not fall pregnant! So does this mean I only get to feel good about myself when I’m young or pre-baby? That I should find ways of hiding or reversing the natural (and beautiful) changes to my body? Or, shock, horror, can I assume that I’m amazing however I look and choose to feel good about myself at every stage of my life!
Lastly, it puts so much pressure on every woman, not just mums, to craft their appearance each and every day. To spend time putting make up on or styling our hair. To wear clothes for how they flatter us rather than whether they are comfortable (high heels spring to mind…). Or to find ‘just 10 mins’ in a day to jump up and down like a crazy person. Trying desperately to change our bodies whilst baby naps instead of getting some much needed rest ourselves.
So I say fuck it.
As a coach, nothing makes me more mad than women aiming for someone else’s goals or ideals. And losing the baby weight nearly always comes into this. If you ask a woman to be brutally honest about whether she’d want to lose weight if we lived in a society where she was found incredibly attractive just the way she was then the answer is nearly always no. Which means that she wants to lose the weight to conform with how others think she should look. Or to be found attractive by someone else’s standards. That’s just heart breaking.
It’s time we start helping mums to get rid of the belief that they are only attractive if they get back to a ‘pre-baby’ state. That we show other women that their bodies can change through pregnancy (or age) and still be amazing. We want mums to feel that they can just be themselves without any judgement or pressure. Whether they’ve turned up in a tracksuit or dressed to kill in heels. And we want to start sending messages to our daughters that having a mum-body is OK. Because we want them to grow up knowing they are perfect – however they look.
If you are one of the many (many) women who struggles with her post-baby body then read my post on 5 ways to love your post-baby body just as it is. You can also get my free download on How you can love your post baby body here. Or sign up using the form below. It’s got loads of hints, tips and advice on how you can start to feel amazing about yourself just the way you are – no dieting or exercise required!