No Love for the Post-Baby Body

I am an unashamed reality tv whore. You name it, and I have probably watched it. The list includes genre pioneers such as Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, The Real World, and Temptation Island and travels up the respectability ladder (slightly) to The Amazing Race and Survivor. Currently, I'm watching Losing It via the Primetime on-demand channel when it's midnight and I'm done working for the night and need some decompression time before bed.

Losing It is Jillian Michaels' new show in which she moves in with a family leading an unhealthy lifestyle and tries to help them change their habits and lose weight. I've seen The Biggest Loser a few times (of course I have), but I didn't really pay attention to who she was until I began watching Losing It. And while her voice is grating at times (especially when she's yelling at...err...motivating people), I like her. She's hard-core, she has a rockin' body, and she's overcome childhood obesity to become a fitness expert and personal trainer.

Which is why I believe she absolutely does not deserve the flack she received a few months ago (yes, I am behind with my posts) for the comments she made in Women's Health Magazine. Jillian said she plans to adopt rather than giving birth because "I can't handle doing that to my body."

Critics assailed Jillian Michaels for portraying pregnancy as a negative thing, and as something other than a natural function for a woman's body. They said her comments were insensitive to new mothers who are struggling to lose weight and that pregnancy was a wonderful, life-changing experience that she should feel fortunate to experience.

Contrary to what the lithe, lovely, and apparently extraordinarily dim-witted Gwenyth Paltrow has said recently about every woman having the time to work out and lose her baby weight, pregnancy, while wondrous for some women, can create pretty hard-to-reverse changes to our bodies. For many, losing the baby weight isn't as easy scheduling an on-call trainer for a three-hour workout while our nanny(ies) watch our baby.

Real women (read: those of us without a staff to make our meals, clean our houses, and tend to our children) have to work hard to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, and even then, our bodies sometimes look differently than our pre-kids one. Stretch marks, sagging breasts, and persistent cellulite are the war wounds of pregnancy and childbirth. And yes, our little bundles of joy are worth it (most days anyway), but that doesn't erase the fact that having a baby takes both an emotional and a physical toll on a woman's body. And admitting the truth about this and our displeasure with it doesn't make us unappreciative, horrible mothers.

Jillian Michaels' livelihood is dependant upon...her body. She's not only a fitness expert and personal trainer; she's a celebrity whose image is constantly on tv, on the web, and on bookstore shelves. The last five pounds many women struggle to lose after giving birth? The droopy post-nursing boobs? Probably wouldn't help Jillian's career. And although critics can argue all day that our culture needs to stop holding up an unattainable figure as the "ideal woman," the fact is that the entertainment industry is brutal, and if Jillian wants to keep her celebrity fitness guru job, having a baby might compromise that.

And also, it's her body and her life. She's not asking other women to forgo pregnancy and pursue a six-pack. If she doesn't want to have biological children, why do people care so much?

What do you think about the Jillian Michaels' controversy?

7 Responses to “No Love for the Post-Baby Body”

  1. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    I think that a woman choosing to adopt rather than having biological children is to be applauded. If more women did this there would be fewer orphans in the world and I'm all for that. Before I got married I always said that that is what I would do, but I think my views were more out of a sense of fear surrounding pregnancy than anything else, but I still think about adoption sometimes now. Part of me wishes we had room for just one more.  

  2. # Blogger Jesser

    It is crazy how pregnancy changes your body. I can run miles and do tons of torturous things to my body without an ache the next day, yet I'm still sporting quite a few extra pounds that is all in my midsection (awesome!). Her body is at least part her livelihood and she can do whatever the heck she wants with it. As you said, she's not judging/requiring it of anyone else. You can contribute to the world in other ways than by having children or even adopting them.  

  3. # Blogger Amy R

    I completely agree with you Kristi. Adoption is an amazing option and frankly, I applaud her devotion to her body and her desire to keep it the way that it is. This doesn't make her "anti-pregnancy" or "against new moms trying to lose baby weight". It makes her someone who knows what she wants. Her only "problem" is that she's a public figure and is therefore scrutinized constantly. Millions of women probably don't have kids for the exact same reason and if that's the choice that is right for them, then that's their business. The other issue I have with her critics is that she promotes a very healthy body and her lifestyle (or at least that which we are shown on her shows)is one that quite a few people could stand to follow even 10%. If she was a stick figure with unhealthy habits saying that she didn't want to have a baby because she didn't want to get fat, that would be one thing. But her saying that she didn't want to have a baby because she had worked so hard on her body (essentially, her career like you said), I think it's silly someone would have an issue with that.  

  4. # Blogger Veronica

    Actually, I had followed Jillian in the past because she is another PCOS sufferer.

    Which is why she was so overweight before, FYI.

    But having PCOS also means that she would probably have a very hard time getting pregnant and may not want to go down the fertility treatments route -- especially because it may not work. A lot of women with PCOS spend thousands and nothing happens.

    While I think her comment about her body could be taken at the superficial level of her looks, I also wonder if she meant it the additional "stuff" she would have to go through to get pregnant -- the hormones, the shots, the IVF, what have you.

    I don't blame anyone not wanting to put their body through THAT or pregnancy.  

  5. # Blogger Sarah P.

    I think that any way a woman wants to become a mother is her business, and hers alone (and her partner's if she has one). If we spent more time celebrating the choices which make us unique, and less time criticizing others to make ourselves feel better, the world would be a lot happier.  

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