- 1) Air brushing and digital manipulation.
- 2) Rapid weight loss due to Postpartum Depression/Anxiety.
- 3) Naturally thin figure due to genes, athleticism, or breast-feeding.
- 4) Access to an exorbitant amount of money for “mommy tucks,” fitness coaching, nanny-ing, & style consultation postpartum.
- 5) We don’t know the full story here.
The truth? The truth is (though there has been much speculation), we don’t know the full story here. However, I am reflecting on how Princess Diana suffered with bulimia while “looking good” in the public eye. I am reflecting on how a colleague of mine, a Licensed Psychologist who has now been assisting other women recover from Perinatal mood disorders for the past 20 years, suffered from Postpartum Depression and lost 40 lbs as a symptom of her depression in the “fourth trimester” postpartum. Many people said to her during this time “Wow, you look great!”
We still live in a culture full of what Carolyn Costin calls the “thin commandments,” moral judgements about body size and shape and, by extension, about the person inhabiting a particular body size and shape.
Some examples of Thin Commandments include:
- If you aren’t thin you aren’t attractive;
- Being thin is more important than being healthy;
- What the scale says is the most important thing;
- Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad; You can never be too thin;
- Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.
For more on the Thin Commandments, click here: http://www.edreferral.com/thin_commandments.htm
We also still live in a world where education is needed. According to a recent survey, many women still need educating about the extent of digital manipulation in the media, because “15% of the 18-24 year old women surveyed believe the images of celebs and models they see in magazines accurately reflect what the models look like in reality.”
“Mommy surgery came to public attention… after the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported a rise in cosmetic surgery cosmetic among women of child-bearing age. In 2004 doctors nationwide performed more than 325,000 “mommy makeover procedures”, up 11 percent from 2005.” (New York Times, October 4, 2007)
The most serious risk of a “mommy tuck,” is blood clots.”You’re more at risk to get a blood clot with a tummy tuck than with other types of cosmetic surgery because you spend much more time lying down recuperating, so blood can pool in your veins and pelvis,” Seattle surgeon Phil Haeck explains. Blood clots are deadly about 30 percent of the time.
I remember reading an article about Mommy tucks in a Doctor’s waiting room magazine right before I had tests done for anemia and adrenal fatigue resulting from depleted iron stores and chronic sleep deprivation postpartum. It was not helpful to my self-esteem. Becoming a mother is an intense, identity shifting transformation, part of which includes inhabiting a vastly different body. Airbrushing, having plastic surgery, and focusing on body image as a meaningful integration of success not only bypasses this identity transformation, but inhibits it from coming into fruition. In research study a 2011 exploring the questions of “the woman I used to be; the woman I fear I could become; and the woman I hope to become,” Ogle, Tyner, Schofield-Tomschin write:
For many women, a central and profound concern of pregnancy revolves around whether, after the pregnancy is over, the body will return to ‘normal.’ In such cases being pregnant may represent a transitional or liminal body that becomes the site of a ‘struggle to redefine and refigure the self after childbirth.
How women navigate and cope with stresses incited by the bodily experiences of postpartum can impact their integration of the maternal identity as well as their successful adaptation to parenthood, which, in and of itself, can be a demanding and stressful life transition for both women and men.
(Ogle, Tyner, Schofield-Tomschin, “Jointly Navigating the Reclamation of the ‘Woman I Used to Be’: Negotiating Concerns About the Postpartum Body Within the Marital Dyad” Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, January 2011 vol. 29 no. 1 35-51).
This is what most women’s’ bodies look like postpartum:
Thank you to people like Jade Beale and the beautiful body project helping women reclaim, revel, and be proud of their bodies in all of their shapes and sizes! Navigating the transition to motherhood can one of the most profound, difficult, transformative and rewarding journeys of a woman’s life. And successfully navigating this journey includes wrestling with questions about how one’s body- and self- are changed in the process. I would like to invite celebrating the change, in all of its forms, including sagging skin, new wrinkles, different stomachs and breasts. These are hard earned changes in our bodies that have given birth. I would like to celebrate that.
THIS, thank you body image movement
is what I would like to see magazine covers start to look like:
A woman can dream…