Kara Evans writes for The Armchair Mayor News on parenting.
COLUMN — Quite recently Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner was congratulated on her baby bump. While she admitted that yes, she does have a baby bump, she was quick to note that she is definitely not expecting. Garner reminded everyone that she has three children, so of course she has a baby bump, and it’s not going anywhere.
You read all the time about supposedly expecting celebrities, with pictures of the suspected bumps plastered all over gossip magazines. That’s the paparazzi’s job: to raise speculation and create hype about whichever star seems to be most popular at the time.
Just like in the celebrity world, assumptions are constantly made about women in “real life.” On more that one occasion I have heard personal horror stories from friends who have been asked by strangers when they were due when in fact they have an eight-month old baby at home and becoming pregnant is the last thing on their minds.
The truth about pregnancy and having a baby is that it takes its sweet toll on a woman’s body. Our bodies grow, stretch and make accommodations for the life that’s developing inside of us and don’t bounce back as quickly as Hollywood A-listers make it seem. My sister in-law was shocked and saddened when I told her that it took well over three months for my tummy pooch to even start shrinking away.
Even seven months post-partum I found myself stressing about my daughter’s upcoming swimming lessons and my lack of a post-baby swimsuit. All I wanted to do was to hide in an unflattering one-piece swimsuit because although unflattering, I at least would not have to show the world, or at least the other swim-moms, my saggy-skinned belly.
I was then reminded by my dear husband that I’d be surrounded by women in the same boat as I; all still relatively in the same post-partum stage, all probably dealing with their own idea on what the ideal post-baby body should look like. I knew he was right, so I went on with wearing a two-piece swimsuit and proudly bared my body, stretch marks, loose skin and all.
I didn’t do such a thing to make a statement, but maybe I should have. If more women took a stand like Ms. Garner and said, “Yes, I just had a baby and no, I don’t care what my body looks like,” then maybe we wouldn’t feel so compelled to hide under baggy sweats and high-waisted jeans.
We need to stop worrying about what we think of ourselves, and we also need to stop worrying about what other moms look like post-baby. Don’t judge one mom because she gained more than she liked during her pregnancy and now having trouble shaking the weight. Sure, she may still wear maternity pants, but she probably loves her children to death and puts them first before anything else.
Perhaps one day we’ll stop judging ourselves so harshly after going through one of the most life-changing events we’ll ever experience. It may not happen in our generation, but if we teach our children that it doesn’t matter what you look like perhaps they can grow up in a world where looks truly don’t matter. One can only dream.
Kara Evans tweets from @KaraEvs and blogs on http://www.shewriteswords.com.