I don’t often write reaction blogs; but recently I’ve read a multitude of posts regarding the Maria Kang, “What’s your excuse?” picture. Some of them were pleasant and defended her, inspired that she could look so “smokin’ hot” after having had three kids in three years. Most, however, condemned her for fueling the flames of the always heated “women and body image” discussion.
In case you live under a rock, meet Maria Kang and her abs.
“How could she be so ‘in your face’ with her message,” one blogger questioned?
“Looking at that makes me feel bullied,” wrote another.
“The average woman doesn’t look like that, ever, let alone immediately after having three kids,” stated a third.
This is the real issue. It’s not “Why would she post a picture like that?” It’s, “Why do we believe that the average woman looks like that?”
There is this need to get back our pre-pregnancy body immediately. Somewhere over the years, it has become: Baby out, abs flat, boobs perky, body tight; all completely ignoring the fact that your body has just been ravaged.
You grew another human inside of you, for God’s sake; give yourself a break.
There seems to be this misconception about what women, one year post birth, actually look like. I would argue that very, very few look like Maria Kang. And of those women who do, many, like her, likely make their living based on their looks, in careers such as modeling, acting or fitness instruction.
We’ve all seen the Kim Kardashian booty shot (I won’t hurt your eyes by including it). She had a rough pregnancy, gained a ton of weight, and four very short months later is insisting on putting herself out there as sex symbol. Four months post-pregnancy with Man and I was not feeling sexy in the least. I wanted to, you better believe I wanted to feel hot and sexy again, but I just wasn’t going to be able to pull it off in that time frame. At that point, my “hot and sexy” had to be defined by my ability to nurture my newborn.
I can recall seeing Clair Danes at the Golden Globes earlier this year, just ONE month after the birth of her son. She looked thin, gorgeous, and glowing. None of those adjectives could be used to describe me one month after the birth of either of my children. I was tired, greasy, covered in breast milk and days-old funk. My unwashed hair was either in a bun or a ponytail and my favorite pregnancy outfit still adorned my swollen body. I did not glow; I did not sparkle, I did not look like a million bucks, worthy of the red carpet.
One month post birth!!!!!
It was then that I had to remind myself that I was not in Hollywood; it was not part of my job to look good. I did not have a staff to make me up, do my hair, wrap me in spandex, and strategically place rushing over saggy areas of my body. My stylist did not pick out the perfect ensemble to accentuate my current asset, my bodacious cleavage. Diamonds didn’t radiate off of my skin, giving me the illusion of elegance. A trainer didn’t work me hard that morning, and a low cal, high protein meal was not prepared by my chef. I was just me, at home with my baby, probably a lot more comfortable on my couch in my yoga pants, eating cookies.
I admit to having been completely surprised by my post-baby body. It just didn’t feel mine. This flabby, saggy mess still looked pregnant! I would eat a morsel of food and it would turn right into fat and immediately attach itself to the gelatinous mess that was my midsection. Working out didn’t seem to be doing ANYTHING. It was almost as if this new, post-baby body had a mind of its own; it wasn’t going anywhere until it was damn good and ready. And I had to learn to be ok with that.
When Lady came along I was more prepared. I lost as much of the weight as I could from regular diet and exercise. Then, when she was a year old, I did an intense cleanse to shed the rest of the belly fat. I also started running, a lot. And eating better, and increasing the classes I took at the gym. I cut down on the drinking (kind of) and the eating of crap (debatable). There are weeks that I’m on top of it and everything feels tight and great. But I can tell you, one slip, one bad week of too many beers and not enough workouts and everything goes to hell in a hand basket surprisingly quickly. It’s constant work and I do it as much for myself as for my family. It makes me healthy, happy, gives me energy and a sense of accomplishment. I will never dedicate the time to look like Maria Kang, and that’s ok.
As women, we place so much pressure on ourselves to look perfect. I am no exception. But we can’t ignore the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to do so. We can’t all look like Maria Kang. And that’s ok.