Admittedly I was kind of shocked. The #loveyourlines campaign on Instagram is pretty confronting stuff if you’re a woman who loves nothing more than to hide them. And I am one such lady.
I can only admire the almost 200 women who’ve hashtaged their personal struggles and stories with their post-baby body onto the page. With over 63,000 people following the trend it’s clearly a point of interest.
And I’m going to guess that’s because there’s strong support (and perhaps curiosity) for how so many women can dig a whole lot deeper to celebrate more than what’s stretched across the surface. In a world obsessed with the celebrity post-baby slim down here’s a bunch an army of women who not only can let-go of perceived perfection but are willing to declare it with a photograph for the world to see. Gutsy stuff.
I think it’s this gutsy sharing amongst women that has this campaign turning comparison on its head. When I first landed on the hundreds of images of ripples, rolls, scars and sags it kinda brought a feeling of comfort. You know that moment when you confess something to a girlfriend and she turns to you and says “Yep, I have that too.” There’s a bit of relief that you’re not alone. Or (and this probably isn’t in line with the spirit of the campaign – but) that yours aren’t as bad? It’s human female nature.
So comparison got me reminiscing on an article I wrote in my last year of uni titled The post-baby body: The celebrity versus you. It was around the time Miranda Kerr stepped onto the catwalk three months after giving birth – and it was headline news.
I wanted to look a little closer at the celebrity-post-baby-body thing; why do we love it and hate it equally as much? Enter a switched on psychology researcher with some aussie-grown research on the ‘Yummy-Mummy’ and a recently new mum and gym instructor and I had full-term team of experts.
And for a bit of insight (and a flash-back to a short-lived interest in traditional journalism) it’s here for your perusing. And, as the article explores, whoever the comparison comes next to let’s keep it real.
THE POST-BABY BODY: THE CELEBRITY VERSUS YOU
That toned and tanned tummy. Those ever so delicately defined arms. And that highly perched and perfectly rounded butt – it looks like it must have been poured into that bikini.
In a photograph taken just three months after giving birth Miranda Kerr’s beautiful body is no doubt that of a supermodel.
It’s hard for our eyes not to be drawn to yet another celebrity’s trim and tight post-baby body splashed across a cover page. Internet sites like People.com even include a body watch segment allowing you to compare a celebrity’s post-baby body before and after. But it’s this attraction to celebrity post-baby bodies that sparks a thought for any non-celebrity mum feeling pressure and expectation to lose the baby weight.
As a gym instructor said she had a horrible perception of mothers who still carried weight from their pregnancy. Laughing, Shannon said she questioned why they hadn’t lost the kilos.
“How mean is that? No sympathy what so ever…suck it up get out there and jump higher and you lose everything and that’s how it’ll work,” Shannon said.
Three years down her path of motherhood and just days away from expecting her second child Shannon is now more empathetic admitting to feeling the pressure to lose her own baby weight.
“Everyone said to me ‘You’ll bounce back straight away’. It took me a while and I thought with the fitness ability I had and the knowledge I had… I also thought a lot of people were judging me because of that. For me the expectations I felt were very high,” she said.
Despite those expectations Shannon refuses to compare her post-baby weight loss to that of a celebrity’s.
“I hate it when they bring out celebrities [as a news item]….because they don’t talk about the rest of their life.
When Miranda Kerr came out the other day and all my friends are sitting there saying ‘Wow she’s beautiful’ and I said ‘Yes she is and I take nothing away from her in regards to that however… she has a personal trainer, a chef, a baby sitter. Bring it back to reality. That is not what the majority of women can do.”
In 2008 a study titled Post partum women’s body image: The curse of the yummy mummy psychology researcher Lucia Bongiorno said over 68% of participants indicated it was comparing themselves with their peer group rather than celebrities that made them feel they should diet and lose weight during the post-partum period.
“The socio cultural accepted ideal of body image is that thin is good,” Lucia said.
“Think about it if you put on weight, no one says anything to you…you lose weight and people will go ‘Oh my god you lost weight you look fantastic’. Why is it that we feel we can comment on when people lose weight but not when they gain weight? Because the socio cultural expectancies say that the skinnier you are the better you are and therefore we praise it.
While the media exerted the greatest amount of pressure on women to maintain the ideal, it was actually comparison with their peers, other mums, that made these women feel bad about their bodies and made them want to lose weight,” she said.
However the study also identified that a trend in celebrity body bounce backs was developing a new ideal for post-baby body image.
“We’ve had a group of celebrities that have given birth
Lucia explains that over a period of time the term ‘has emerged to describe the celebrity post-baby weight loss trend. The yummy mummy is young, stylish, attractive and very slim and acts as an alternative to society’s thin ideal relevant to women having babies.
“The media stereotype of the yummy mummy places undue pressure on new mothers to perform to an unrealistic ideal.”
“You’re standing at the supermarketyou stand in line to pay for petrol at the petrol station it’s there. And you might have a quick scan of the cover while you’re next in line to pay. The message is there in our face, the beautiful body image.”
But for Shannon, the unrealistic ideal is only relevant if you let yourself be carried away with that celebrity image.
“Yes the instant perception is ‘My god she looks amazing, I’ve got to look like that,’ but then maybe a bit more reflection. Keep it real.”
Love to hear your thoughts on this one in the comments below! Or share if you another lady needing a little post-baby uplift x