Ever since Demi Moore posed pregnant and nude for Vanity Fair, (and that now infamous portrait by Annie Leibovitz), it seems that Hollywood, and our country for that matter, has become baby crazy when it comes to celebrities. Tell me, have you not experienced the multiple times that Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears, or Jessica Simpson have been “accused” in the media of being pregnant for even a slight bulge or weight gain. No longer is it seen as unstylish or “unseemly” to be pregnant and out and about in public. It is now actually newsworthy (e.g. Headline: “Nicole Richie Steps Out – Shows Off Baby Bump”) and does not have to be concealed with tent-like clothing, like in our mothers’ day and age.
Quite the contrary, ladies can often be seen out sporting spandex leggings and a tightly clinging designer t-shirt. Perhaps it has not hurt that well-known celebrities’ TV alter-egos have had babies, very famously, and perpetuate these looks and new norms, (witness: Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green of ‘Friends’ or Candace Bergen’s then-controversial Murphy Brown pregnancy). Quite a departure from the days when, as in ‘I Love Lucy’, the word “pregnant” could not even be uttered on the major networks, instead they used the Spanish word “embarazado”.
So Hollywood, and thus the world, are celebrating pregnancy, which is in this writer’s opinion, a wonderful thing. However, now let’s stop and think of what happens after birth for the mother. If a woman is anywhere from 15-30 pounds heavier than her “desired, pre-baby” weight, we start to see another phenomenon taking place; the race to see how rapidly and with what diet regimen these uber image-conscious women strive to retain their “camera-ready” bodies. This is where it begins to get sticky and perhaps disproportionate to reality.
For example, it is not healthy to lose 15 pounds in 2 months flat. Or, if that’s the case, how much time in the gym, following crazy juice diets, or skipping meals does this involve? What are the potential costs, not only to the mother, but to the newborn baby as well? I feel that there have to be some checks and balances, to assure that the health of the overall mother-child unit is remaining completely advantageous to the development of that child. However, because image is everything for these women, I’m not sure if this is always the case.
Then, the larger issue becomes; everyday people like you, your friends, or your daughters, get the idea that they could and should do the same. This is so unrealistic for most people. Not everyone has the resources and funds to, say, hire a personal chef to cook them their low-cal, non-carb, weight-reducing diet in a healthy way. Nor may they have the ability to hire a personal trainer, something these women above are accustomed to having and hiring for their multiple workouts per day, in some cases. So, the norm seems to be; outrageous juice, limited-calorie, crash diets and a workout regimen that borders on excessive. Thus, especially for the younger women in this situation, this can be a very unhealthy, almost dangerous path that they are being led to by popularity.
I remember being in the grocery store a couple of years ago and seeing a huge container in the “health food” isle which struck me as shocking. The label read “The Hollywood Juice Diet”. Attractive to the consumer? Yes. Healthy? My guess is no. If we keep pushing these unrealistic ideals of body image on young women, who are struggling just to fit in, how can we ever expect that they will learn to care for themselves and their bodies in a healthy fashion? When will being a healthy weight become more important and appealing than measuring up to those images like Demi Moore, Victoria Beckham, Madonna, or Kate Moss? Can these ultra thin, athletically toned bodies be realistically attainable to all, no matter the body type and economic circumstances? How will we ever come to an even ground?
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Image courtesy of The Washington Post