Here we go again.
Thanks to Caroline Berg Eriksen's post-pregnancy selfie that she took just four days after giving birth to her daughter, we have been pulled back into the "what should women's bodies look like?" debate.
Caroline is the wife of footballer Lars Kristian-Erickson and a fitness blogger. She also happens to have the flattest, most toned physique of any woman I have ever seen four days after giving birth. Does this seem a little weird to me? Yes, it does. To be honest, my first reaction to the pictures was to think about how little she must have been eating throughout her pregnancy and how much she must have been working out and having spent over 20 years working in the fitness industry myself, it just seems unhealthy.
That being said, what she does with her body is none of my business. I will not spend a minute criticizing this woman for what she does or how she does it. I don't know her and refuse to speak with authority on her lifestyle choices. However, with all of the attention being put on pregnant and post-pregnant physiques these days, it does make me wonder when and how we completely lose sight of what it actually means to be pregnant.
When did how our bodies look after having our babies become more important than the babies themselves?
I think we need to remember two things:
1. When a woman is pregnant, it means she is growing a PERSON in her body. There is an actual HUMAN BEING growing and living in her belly for close to a year! That's kind of a big deal. It's also the kind of thing that will create changes to her body. That's not a flaw, that's a miracle. Pregnancy isn't a crime, there's no need to hide all the evidence.
2. Getting pregnant isn't always as easy as those MTV teen mom shows would have us believe. There are a lot of women who struggle with infertility and would joyfully trade their flat stomachs and narrow hips for the stretch marks, expanded rear end and growing belly that could accompany a pregnant body. Let's try to remember what's important.
I really want to make it clear, that while I do not have an issue with Caroline personally, I do have an issue with how pictures like the one she posted fuel the war on women's bodies and body image that is causing so much damage to so many women and young girls. It's not so much the pictures themselves as it is the debates that come with them.
When Maria Kang posted her "What's your excuse?" picture, there seemed to be two sides to choose from. Either you were with her or against her. If you were with her, the assumption was that you were probably thin and if you didn't like the picture, then you were probably overweight and lazy. I was not a fan and after speaking with her on Fox news last October, I received a slew of, "You're just fat!" comments, that really didn't enhance the conversation at all. Instead of talking about the amazing things our bodies are capable of doing, we've become focused on how they look and if they're thin enough and that's a shame.
I feel that Caroline's picture and the fact that she's a fitness and health blogger are doing the same thing. I think it's perfectly fine for her to be proud of her body, but I think that being in a position where she is influencing the health of others, she needs to be extra careful with what she shares and how she shares it. I also think that the rest of us have to stop comparing and judging ourselves and other people. There will always be someone telling us that we need to be different or look different and it's up to us whether or not we choose to listen.
"Fit mom" lost the weight in two years, "Footballer's wife" did it in four days and for all we know, there could be another new mom somewhere out there getting ready to post the picture she took of herself in a string bikini just minutes after being handed her newborn in the delivery room!
Let her do it, just don't feel the need to care about it when she does.
The problem isn't with the pictures we're seeing of unrealistically thin or fit looking women, it's with the lack of pictures we're seeing of natural, healthy ones. I'm thrilled with women of all shapes and sizes being proud of their bodies, the problem is that most of the ones who are, look a hell of a lot alike.
Let's stop paying so much attention to the bodies that we can't relate to and start embracing, celebrating and taking care of the ones we do.
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