In case you haven’t noticed, there is a whole new lexicon of terms associated with pregnancy and new motherhood, er, make that the bodies of pregnant women and new moms. These catch phrases are a perfect fit for tabloid articles about how much this celebrity gained during those nine months or how fast that one was back in her bikini after birth. But while they might have a cute little ring to them, they’re sending women some pretty dangerous messages. Here are a few of the top offenders we tackle Does this Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?
The Phrase: Get Your Body Back!
It’s almost become a given that this goal should be at the top of every new mother’s list of priorities. Forget about getting a handle on taking care of an infant. Forget about giving your body time to rest and heal from the biggest workout EVER (aka childbirth). “Get your body back” is especially nasty because it keeps women focused on the past. It implies that the baby you just birthed has taken something away from you. And let’s face it: if you spend your time and energy focusing on reclaiming something you’ve lost, it’s impossible to move forward.
The Phrase: Baby Bump
Okay, I admit I’ve used this one to describe my own growing baby belly. Among friends and family, I find it sort of sweet. But in the context of tabloid “Bump Watch” and “Bump Alert” stories, it takes on a creepy stalkerish quality, setting up a bizzarro world in which all female celebrities are walking around as Potential Pregnants. Once someone famous is admittedly expecting? Well, then we get to hear all about where she’s shopping, how much weight she’s gaining, and what diet she plans to follow to take it off when the time comes. Another insidious problem with this “bump” description is that it ignores the fact that pregnant women’s bodies (like women’s bodies in general) come in all shapes and sizes. In researching our book, we often talked to women who felt ashamed of their bodies because their pregnancies were bigger than a bump.
The Phrase: Post-Baby Body
This one takes the baby out of the equation entirely. After baby, right? Hmmmm, the fact is that the bambino hasn’t gone anywhere–and by the way, your body just did something pretty remarkable in bringing her/him into the world. So all this “post-baby body” business effectively erases that accomplishment. As Katie Gentile points out in the daily beast ;
When women shed the baby weight, they are not merely getting back their pre-baby body, they are obliterating all the evidence of ever having had a baby in the first place. This means the one thing that only women’s bodies can do is expected to be immediately erased. The post-baby body is wrung of its recent life-giving feat. Sagging milk-filled breasts must appear perky; the once-swollen abdomen is made concave. It’s as if we should actually believe the baby dropped from the stork, from the sky, from anywhere but that toned, buff body.
When it comes to wiping out the childbirth experience, magazines are now turning to their handy digital erasers to retouch celebrity moms’ bodies. Of her OK “body after baby” Kourtney Kardashian says, “They doctored and Photos hopped my baby to make it look like I have already lost all the weight, which I have not.” If anything, this latest Photoshop fumble should prove to women that the perfect “post-baby body” is pure fantasy. New moms are better off setting goals for themselves and their families that are based in reality