Last week, fitness mummy blogger Maria Kang posted a photo of herself in somewhat scant gym gear – all abs and muscle exposed – surrounded by her three boys aged 3 years, 2 years and eight months. Topped off with the caption “What’s your excuse?” you can imagine the backlash she got for body-shaming new mothers.
Women are always the worst culprits when it comes to putting down other women, so unfortunately that aspect comes as no surprise. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to stay healthy and fit after pregnancy. What is sad, however, is the fact that even the beauty of motherhood is becoming tainted by society’s obsessive body pressures, and so detracting from the real meaning of this step in a woman’s life.
True to the dominant self-centred culture, having a baby is no longer about that new life, but rather about how I factor into the scenario. Sure, the family has grown – but look at me, I’ve got my abs back! Why, it’s like pregnancy never even happened! Why this desire to remove all evidence of a beautiful thing? Is it even healthy to push your body that hard straight after giving birth?
Not only that, but I feel that having a child has become one more step in the ideal “successful life” of a woman. The intention for having a child can become about looking like you’ve got it all together and are achieving all the good things in life. No wonder then that the focus post-baby is on themselves and not the child!
So what should a post-baby attitude look like? How do we appreciate a body that’s just given birth and doesn’t look like what you see in magazines? I recently read this great Verily Magazine article, from a husband’s point of view after his wife, Katie, had had their first baby. This quote sums it up for me –
“Katie’s body had created, inside itself, a human being with a heart… I witnessed, up close, labor and delivery. I’ll spare you the details, but when I saw Katie…bring another person into the world – I couldn’t help but hold Katie’s body in awe… Far from turning me off from her body, witnessing childbirth put it all in perspective.”
I couldn’t agree more! A body that can not only nurture another human life for nine months, but then also bear the pain of delivery, is a body that deserves the utmost respect and admiration – no matter how runway-worthy it may or may not look.
Thankfully, not everyone has forgotten it. A month ago, a friend of mine gave birth to her third child: a little girl, after twin boys. And her husband’s Facebook status did her justice when he called her his inspiration, his hero and an incredible mother. Now that’s what a post-baby attitude should look like.