Dont pile pressure on females to look authentic just after they have had a baby
It seems that some people wouldn’t have been satisfied unless Middleton had come staggering out, like a besmocked crab, with a massive distended” Mr Greedy” belly, shooting newly arrived milk through her Jenny Packham dress at aghast reporters. This, for some, is postpartum reality. The catch is that only one reality is allowed.
Not that authenticity is a bad thing. It certainly beats watching a new celebrity mum embark on some crazed public quest to stuff herself back into her pre-pregnancy jeans, proving … which is what? That she’s still sexually viable? To these women, I’d say, sisters, if you can’t spare us, at least spare yourselves. Certainly, it seems to be the grimmest of buffoons’ errands to try to put a sepia glow or flattering filter on the hard graft of getting another human being safely out.
However , not every postpartum experience is the equivalent. After both my babies, I was slim, with a reasonably normal-looking stomach- it would have been hard to tell that I’d simply given birth. The reason for this didn’t lie in earnest yoga conferences, but because both my babies were early and small. In fact, my second daughter was extremely early and horribly small … and sick.
The point is that, in the unlikely event of my being dragged out for a press photocall, for my non-existent adoring public, my body might have risked being denounced as “unrealistic”. When, in truth, my situation was all too real, just different to that of another woman who could take her big, healthy newborn home, instead of camping in a special care baby unit for six weeks, as I did. For her portion, Middleton looked as if she’d got her hair and makeup done for the press pack and chosen an outfit that skimmed her midriff. So bite her. Her only misstep was in not realising that she wasn’t dishing enough postpartum real for some people’s liking. Isn’t this more pressure, simply from a different direction?
Just as women aren’t standardised , nor is the impact of pregnancy on their bodies. Certainly, a shrill inverted body fascism, accusing women of being unrealistic or unrepresentative, is neither feminist nor helpful. One woman’s post-birth reality does not fit all.
* Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist
Read more: www.theguardian.com