Stop Commenting on Women's Bodies
Do you know what a unicorn is? My definition is not quite the one with a single horn coming out of its forehead. My version is a little different. Let me help clarify...
Do you follow any Instagram influencers or even celebrities that strut around in tiny bikinis at 9 months pregnant and only have a little basketball to show for it? And then, once the baby is Earth side, their bodies magically revert back to the 00 size they were before they got pregnant (but comment how they are struggling to “get back into shape.”). [Insert eye roll here.] I feel like they are taking over the internet. THAT is a unicorn. These individuals are mythical creatures with highly desirable bodies that are nearly impossible to attain. I never looked like them before I was pregnant and, yet, set my standards for how I need to look postpartum by using them as my measuring stick. And I’m miserable.
I am also starting to see many things pop up telling women to “wear the bikini”, “go in the pool with your kids”, “be yourself”, “love yourself”, “celebrate how amazing our bodies are (whether we are able to give life or not)”. It seems nice that we are telling the world what we should be thinking and saying, but the reality is so many are making comments that force women to focus on their bodies and less on the time with their littles. So let me take a moment and ask you to hold yourselves accountable for this change in culture, because I don’t always see or hear it actually being lived on a daily basis. I say this as I ask you to take a moment to look at the comments below:
“Are you sure it’s not twins?”
“You’ve doubled in size!”
“You look like you’re going to pop.”
“Oh, good job for losing the baby weight.”
“Wow! You look sooo tired.”
“Yeaaaaa, it’s going to take some time for your stomach to go down.”
“You are so diligent about working out I’m certain you’ll bounce right back.”
These are all comments my sister and I heard while pregnant and postpartum. As a society we have determined the steps a woman needs to take before, during and after childbirth in order to avoid judgment. We have allowed Instagram influencers and other celebrities to set the standards for what our postpartum bodies should look like and we use that to measure the postpartum success of our friends, coworkers and family.
I don’t care how close you are to the individual in question, I am here to tell you that none of these comments are ok. I urge you to think about what it feels like to have someone inadvertently tell you that they think you have gained so much weight that the only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that you must be carrying multiples. Or imagine what goes through a woman’s head a few weeks postpartum when someone tells her that it will take a while for her stomach to go down. Now add the rush of pregnancy or postpartum hormones and you have the cocktail for an epic meltdown.
I worked out until the day I gave birth to both of my boys. I worked out postpartum. I lift weights. I walk. I drink a lot of water. I eat healthy (but also indulge). Even after doing all of the “right” things, it still took me over 7 months to lose one pound after my first pregnancy. Imagine how enraged I was. I must respectfully say, “You do not know that a woman will bounce back.”, and saying that only sets another standard that a woman’s body might not be able to live up to and one that will take a mental toll on a woman if she fails to achieve it.
Whether or not I choose to lose the baby weight is my decision. I did not solicit your feedback on the matter, so please do not offer any comments. These comments make any woman who struggles to lose the maternity weight resent any woman who bounces right back. Every body is different. Every person is different. Every woman goes through her own set of struggles during pregnancy and postpartum. Not every woman can control the amount of weight she gains – even if she does everything correctly. Not every woman can control how quickly her body adjusts to a version of its previous state. Instead of celebrating women who have bangin' bods, we resent them. Instead of enjoying an afternoon out with our littles, we focus on how our muffin top looks in our jeans and we forget what is really important. It's not ok.
I implore you to stop commenting on women’s bodies. Instead of perpetuating the culture that equates physical attractiveness with a woman’s worth as a person, ask her how she is doing. Tell her she is a Rockstar. Ask if she is enjoying the baby snuggles. Ask her if she needs a break or a vat of coffee (or wine 😉 ). Even better: set her favorite coffee down on her desk, smile, and tell her how much you appreciate her. But don’t comment on her body.
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