You don’t know me. At least, I’m pretty sure you don’t. And if you do, then you might know what I’m writing to you about. Yeeeeahhh, about that post of yours….
So, I’m a mum too. It’s both a rewarding and challenging gig, all at the same time. It can be tougher for some, definitely, and there’s a whole generation of mums that are now more exposed than ever, with judgement being thrown about like comical cream pies.
Back in the days without the interwebs (srsly, I was alive for that, it isn’t that long ago), it was our immediate family, friends and neighbours that were free to cast aspersions on our parenting prowess, not people we didn’t know. Magazines had ideals and most of these were based on trying to sell us something, but generally, everyone just got on with it without fear of what someone across the country might think about it. So I agree with you in lamenting the phenomena of mummy shaming.
I know you meant well, but I think perhaps being Rebecca Judd got in the way. I’m one of those ‘average women’ you refer to, whom the Miranda Kerr’s and Giselle’s of the world are “duh”, naturally hotter than. I know that in your world, you are judged by your looks and size. But let’s all just agree to stop bringing this into the real world, where mum’s come in all shapes and sizes and our main focus isn’t to “bounce-back” to our pre-baby bodies. Puh-lease.
Can we also just stop a second and think about why we want to look like we’ve never HAD children? Like we’ve never grown a whole human (in some cases, a third of our actual size – I’m looking at you Amy) and carried it around for 9 months? These bodies should be worn proudly, like badges of honour and those hot scars that women love. I stand by my belief that my friends who have either aged gracefully or had children and are happy (tired, but happy) are looking better than they ever have in their whole life. Yes, that’s INCLUDING their early 20s.
Let’s all keep fighting the good fight, but perhaps pause for a second to make sure we’re not actually contributing to the cause. Cause we’ve all got so much more to do (like dancing, eating vanilla slices, taking photos of our kids and writing letters to celebrities)
Oh hey, I’m Amy the one Caroline referred to earlier. Small lady, big baby? Yeah, that’s me.
First up, I know what you were aiming for with the whole ‘let’s quit shaming each other’ article. I get it. We’re all mums. We’re all doing our best. Let’s hug it out.
But I’m going to point out a glaring omission in your piece. Because, dude, it needs to be said. It’s the proverbial elephant in the room. No pun.
First of all, a basic recap:
Mums who breastfeed are great! | Mums who can’t breastfeed so they formula feed are also great!*
Mums who birth naturally are great! | Mums who know their limits and take the damn epidural are also great!
Mums who partake in pre- and post-natal fitness are great! | GLARING SILENCE.
I’ve heard you say in the past that you’re just ‘lucky’ that you look the way you do and it’s always kinda jarred me a little. Because… I don’t look the way you do. In fact, I was born looking quite different to you. I’m 5 foot tall for a start. I have red hair and freckly skin. And while I’m of a petite and (relatively) proportionate build, I’m no supermodel. By your definition that somehow makes me, um, unlucky. Me and a vast majority of women on the planet. I know, I know – don’t hate you ’cause you’re beautiful. But maybe don’t ignore me ’cause I’m not.
Did I get into physical fitness while I was pregnant with my babies? Nup.
Did I get into it after I had my babies? Ah, not particularly.
Do I feel exasperated by all those beautiful celebrity mums popping up on my Facebook newsfeed with their tales of how they got their pre-baby bodies back? ‘Lil bit.
I live a vaguely active lifestyle and I’m not overweight. I view exercise as a way of being physically and mentally healthy and because of those pesky ‘unlucky’ genes of mine, if I wanted to look like you and Miranda and Giselle and be ‘celebrated’ (or noticed at all) I would need to spend a lot more time working on my body and a lot less time doing other perfectly healthy things I love – like reading, writing, letterpress printing and watching cat videos on YouTube. And here’s the kicker: there’s a lot of money to be made by making the unlucky ones feel like they could look lucky if only they worked a little harder. I think you may even be making a bit of that money.
Just to be clear: I’m not talking about unhealthy behaviours or obesity here. I’m talking about regular folk.
When my body started changing during my first pregnancy I was faced with a choice: I could obsess over my appearance and approach the coming months with fear and dread. Or I could keep living my life. I chose the latter. By your omission, I shouldn’t be celebrated for that fact and I wholeheartedly disagree. That choice was the best decision I ever made. It’s not only great for me, but a great example to set for my daughter who, I hope, will live by my example and not grow up feeling ‘unlucky’. Because she’s a quirky little redhead, too. And she’s FABULOUS.
So, all you ordinary mums of the world, I’m just gonna put it out there – you are great. Maybe you got the lucky genes, maybe you didn’t. Maybe who gives a shit, you are ace. You know that there are only so many hours in a new mum’s hectic day and you’d rather spend your downtime reading all the books on the Booker Prize shortlist than punishing your body to look lucky. You know that you make a mean lasagne. You don’t need to buy into this post-baby body crap because you know that the people who love you don’t give a hoot if your tummy sags a bit after having those beautiful babes of yours. And you are setting an excellent example for them that they are so much more than just their appearance. Your eyes sparkle when you watch your friends having their babies, and it never occurs to you to check out how quickly they snapped back into shape. Or didn’t.
Ordinary mums, let’s get together over a cup of tea, a green smoothie, a full-fat, full-caffeine latte or a straight up martini. And let’s talk about things more interesting than our thighs. Which is, let’s face it, pretty much everything.
With ya not against ya (mostly),
* I’m gonna add mums who formula feed by choice in here. Because, you know, free will and all.