No, I Didn’t Lose the Baby Weight, but Thanks for Asking
What's one of the first things that anyone focuses on after a woman has a baby?
It's not just how cute the baby is or how the birth went or if the baby is sleeping at all — it's also how that baby's mother looks.
Never mind the important stuff like how the baby is doing. Most of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, will be assessing how a mother is looking after giving birth. If she's looking none too slim and trim, we might just ignore her or tell her she still has that “glow,” but if she happens to lose the baby weight quickly, we will praise her. If we are in the media, we might even describe that mother as “flaunting” her baby bod or “showing off her bikini body” if she happens to show herself publicly after having a child.
But what gives, you guys? Why are we so obsessed with what a woman looks like after giving birth? Why can't we just leave women alone?
Here's a crazy notion: What if we didn't expect women to lose the baby weight as fast as possible? What if we gave them permission to just live life and get through those first few sleep-deprived, insane years and then worry about how “good” they look in a bathing suit?
I haven't lost all my “baby weight” from having four kids, and I'm well aware of the fact that not all of that weight can solely be blamed on just babies. Those babies didn't force me to eat ice cream, after all, even though crazy hot summer pregnancies sure felt like they were driving my hand straight to the ice cream carton.
But anyways, the point is, I am wondering where we even started reinforcing the idea that a woman should and will be focused on wanting to lose all of her baby weight ASAP after having a baby. It just seems like the more we talk about women “bouncing back” and “getting their lives back” and “getting back to normal” the more we make mothers who are quite content to let their bikini bodies slide for a few years feel like they are doing something wrong.
The truth is, some women naturally look like supermodels after giving birth (like the lovely mom in the image in this article, who I know IRL and who is absolutely stunning after two kids!), and some women need to work very hard to lose weight that is sometimes very natural to put on during pregnancy. And some women's bodies change in ways that no amount of exercise and dieting can return back to “normal.”
So at the end of the day, I wish that we could let women decide for themselves how important “bouncing back” is to them. When you see a picture of a woman after having a baby or see her in real life or visit her at home when her baby is weeks old, maybe it shouldn't even be on our radar to judge how she's looking, even if we are framing it as a compliment.
What do you think? Is it harmful to judge how a woman looks after birth, even if we are complimenting her?