Hey Kate, Where's That Baby Weight?
Is Kate Middleton's post-partum weight loss healthy?
At six weeks postpartum, I have 18lbs left to lose before I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I thought I was doing well, until I saw that picture of Kate looking like baby George didn’t just finish kicking her uterus for nine months. Just four weeks after giving birth, Kate Middleton ran some errands in jeans skinnier than anything I ever wore before I was pregnant. The headlines that caption each picture of her in her skinny jeans and effortlessly stylish shirt praise her for being “healthy” and looking “great.” The baby weight just “melted off!”
Thanks a lot, princess.
To be fair, Kate Middleton is just being herself. I’m not accusing her of being too thin or setting unreasonable standards for pregnant women everywhere. She’s not out to set standards, she was probably just out to take a breath and talk to someone who wouldn’t spit up in her hair. And her body is just doing what it is genetically programmed to do: look lovely. While mine body doing what it does best: beg for donuts. She’s a princess with staff to help her cook and clean and rest. I’m a Midwestern writer and it took me saving for six months to be able to hire someone to clean my house. These past six weeks we’ve been eating leftover casserole. We all do our best.
Yet, the response to Kate Middleton’s baby weight here in the US exemplifies all our bifurcated hypocrisy about weight and pregnancy. We praise her for looking like a real woman who just had a baby, and in the same breath laud her for looking so thin, so soon. We decry the standards Kate sets for pregnant women, but we’re the one making the standards. We’re the ones talking about her body. We’re the ones eating donuts while wistfully wishing we could be here. And the comments on the articles about Kate’s weight are worse. Commenters claim they looked just as good as Kate (or better) because they worked hard and weren’t lazy. The message: If you look bad after you have a baby, it’s your fault.
No where in the conversation is the reality that when it comes to pregnancy and weight, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some women gain weight. Some women don’t. Some women, like my sister in law, walk out of labor and delivery in their size six jeans. Some women, like me, take nine months to wiggle them back on. There is no comparison. Or there shouldn’t be.
But the problem with articles like ones declaring Kates post-baby supremacy is that they gloss over the realities of pregnancy and make women who don’t lose the weight as fast or as well feel like they are doing something wrong. Comments on a Yahoo! Shine article about Kate Middleton have the same message: If you lose the weight fast you are amazing, if it takes a long time, you are a lazy slob.
Writes one commenter: “Good to see she lost the weight, instead of blaming her kid for her weight gain (which some mother’s do).” Another commenter notes: “This is the norm in Asia. You don`t have to be rich. The key is don`t gain 75 pounds during preganancy. Sorry. Can`t gorge on fries with gravy three times a week while pregnant.” Is it really their fault for perpetuating those ideas? When famous women get pregnant if they are “fat” headlines declare they are gorging on donuts. If they are thin, magazines laud them for their “health.”
During my first pregnancy, I found myself crying in my Doctor’s office because, despite a healthy diet and exercise, I had gained over 50lbs. “Your body gains what it needs to,” my doctor said. “Focus on being healthy.” I did. Or I tried to. It was hard. At the time, tabloids were labling Jessica Simpson as a lazy slob for gaining so much weight while pregnant. I wanted to yell at them to back off. It felt personal.
After my daughter was born, I lost the weight in nine months despite training for two half marathons and a healthy diet of vegetables and lean meats. When I got pregnant again, I did all the same things–workout and eat healthy–and only gained 45lbs. The reality is that so much of what our bodies do during pregnancy is beyond our control. Yet, our culture insists otherwise. Fat is lazy. Thin is healthy. You don’t get a pass even for pushing a baby out of your vagina.
But our culture is wrong. No matter what you do, pregnant women gain weight. And studies show that even exercise and breastfeeding might not be effective for losing weight after a baby. Even if it’s Kate Middleton, there is no doubt that baby George has left her stomach flapping like a flag in the wind, her bladder ineffective and her boobs sore. The reality of pregnancy is that even if you are a princess endowed with fabulous genetics, your body will never be the same. There is no “back to what you were before.” Even after I lost all my baby weight and some, my clothes didn’t fit the same. I didn’t carry weight the same way. My boobs stayed bigger but my butt got smaller. There was no “back and better.” Everything was just different. And Kate probably won’t say these things because she’s classy and the Queen has rules about talking about your vagina to the press.
But I’m an average American, I have less class. So, I can say that honestly, the only thing you have control over during your pregnancy is how you let media images affect you. And I, for one, am not going to let Kate Middleton’s superior genetics get the better of me. Kate can’t help who she is anymore than I can help who I am. And I have two wonderful kids I wouldn’t trade for all the toned abs in the world.
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