Tiger Lady. That’s what my oldest son christened me as soon as he could talk, thanks to my knees-to-navel stretch marks. (Note: that proud day was also the day I decided he was too old to shower with mommy anymore.) So I will be the last person to tell you that you can have a baby and bounce back to exactly the same shape you were in before having a human erupt from your loins. Even if you do get down to your pre-pregnancy weight – a touchy enough subject – most likely things will settle into new positions. (We won’t even talk about the disasters that befall your nipples.) For every Heidi Klum in her Victoria’s Secrets, there are a hundred Charlottes in our control-top tights.
And yet it still rubbed me the wrong way reading an interview in US with a 6-months pregnant Snooki (poster child of bronzer and bump-its) as she confessed her body image and weight gain woes. If anyone is, I’m sympathetic to her angst but when you start out by body-snarking Jessica Simpson, there’s not a lot of room down from there:
“Her worst fear: packing on as many pounds as Jessica Simpson. ‘I would die if I were her size!” says Snooki, who dieted down to 98 pounds prebaby.”
But down it goes:
“My doctor said I can gain anywhere from 25-30 pounds but I want to only gain 15.”
US editorializes further:
“At months pregnant she brags that she’s ‘so skinny’ she has yet to purchase maternity clothes and tells US she’s sticking to ‘healthy’ foods, such as fruit, lots of jelly and Italian ices. Afterwards she plans to return to her svelte shape by breastfeeding ‘because it helps you lose weight faster.”
Ay yi yi. First, all the blather about Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight gain (and now speculation as to how quickly she’ll lose the weight) has got to stop. It’s bad enough that the young mom felt so much pressure to lose weight that she signed on as a Weight Watchers spokeswoman while she was still pregnant. Also, calling another pregnant woman fat is wishing 2 months of edema and 40 pounds of water gain on yourself. Everybody’s different so be nice.
Second, aiming to gain only 15 pounds is not a good plan. If you eat healthy and take care of yourself and only gain 15 pounds – the average weight gain for Asian women – then that’s fine. But purposely restricting yourself to some ridiculous (for you) number because you “don’t want to lose my legs”, as Snooki says, is setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartbreak. Girl, you’re gonna lose your hot legs eventually but the good news is that you’ll have an awesome little person in your life forever! Also, don’t brag about not wearing maternity clothes. I hate this – maternity clothes were invented for a reason and they’re not a scarlet letter of weight gain! I went one pregnancy without buying a single piece, instead cramming myself into larger-sized straight-size clothing, and all it meant was that I was uncomfortable. If you don’t want to wear them, I’m so fine with that, but it’s not something worth bragging about.
Lastly, “lots of jelly and Italian ices”?? If you love them, eat them and enjoy them but let’s not call them health food. Plus, for some women breast feeding really is the magical weight loss cure. But for others, like me, my body wants to keep an extra 10 pounds of security padding and I absolutely cannot lose all my baby weight as long as I’m nursing. And either way your body is just doing it’s thing.
Snooki may be in a particularly unique position due to her job depending primarily on her looks but she certainly isn’t the first woman who has voiced these concerns. In a society that trades in sexuality and abhors aging it is often seen as a woman’s currency to stay looking as youthful is possible. (The irony of living in a culture that worships sex but freaks out over the product of sex – see: men who love looking at boobs… until there is a baby attached to them and then they’re “disgusting” – is a different rant for another day.) The problem with that is that everyone, even Demi Moore, will age eventually. The laws of physics will not be denied: Your body will move towards entropy. Not having children may buy you a few more years but in the end, everyone’s boobs sag and their butts droop and their tummies deflate to bread dough.
Talking about her body (and Jessica’s) in such a way bothers me for two reasons: 1) I think her stance reinforces the view that pregnancy is an illness or a condition to be feared, rather than a natural bodily function for women and 2) It reads as if she is saying that women who have had children are inherently less beautiful and that our self worth should be tied to what we look like rather than who we are.
What do you think about Snooki’s comments? Just another day, another celebrity eye roll moment? Did I misinterpret Snooki’s meaning? Does fear of ruining your body impact your decision to have a baby? Do you feel like pregnancy has wrecked your body?