Girl Body Pride is coming up on a birthday. To celebrate, we are taking a moment to showcase our favorite submissions from guest writers and contributions from our regular team. Do you have a favorite you’d like to see here? Send me an email at [email protected]
Lissa’s essay, Body After Baby? Bullshit! was written for Girl Body Pride’s Strong Like Butterfly anthology and originally appeared on Girl Body Pride on July 29, 2012.
When I paid $19.95 to sign up for Match.com where I met my now-husband, I got a free subscription to People magazine. And although I canceled my Match.com subscription a month later, I’ve been renewing People for 9 years now. Which is my guilty secret (okay, not so secret) vice.
I read my People magazine cover to cover, and then I read The Economist so I don’t feel like a total dimwit. I don’t have a television, so People is my lifeline to pop culture, and for the most part, it brings me great joy to know who Taylor Swift is writing about in her precious bubblegum pop (which I immediately download to my Ipod, along with Miley Cyrus and the Glee soundtracks. Don’t laugh.)
But every time I see a “Body After Baby” article showing off how some celebrity is prancing around in a bikini six weeks postpartum, I want to puke.
I’m an OB/GYN physician and a mother, so I speak from experience when I say, “Bullshit.” Real women don’t have personal trainers, raw foods chefs, full time nannies, and plastic surgeons at their beck and call. Body after baby, my ass.
Let me tell you the truth about the bodies I see in an OB/GYN office. Shapes change. Waistlines disappear. Formerly plump breasts sag like empty Ziploc bags. Stretch marks mar porcelain skin. Muffin tops bulge over those damn low-waisted jeans that don’t flatter any figure. Vaginas gape. Stuff falls out.
Yes, it’s true.
This isn’t the case for every women, so if you haven’t had kids yet, don’t freak out the way I did back in my twenties when I watched what happened to women after enduring pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Some women emerge unscathed. Some of those Body-After-Baby celebrities are probably just genetically blessed. They pop back six weeks later after plopping out their sixth kid, and you’d never know they just birthed a ten pound kid out of their cooch.
But the more we popularize the concept in the media, the more self-hatred we all feel when we can’t live up to impossible standards.
I always told my patients, “Nine months on. Nine months off.” But then nine months came and went after I gave birth, and the baby weight clung to me like a fabric softener sheet straight out of the dryer. So I stopped using that phrase. It’s misleading. Sometimes, you’re just never the same again. And that’s okay. Most of us bear some mark to remind us we are mothers.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s worth it. I would happily trade my formerly svelte body for my daughter any day.