Kristen Bell, Kate Middleton, and Our Obsession with the 'Post-Baby Body'
In all the Kate Middleton post-baby madness, Redbook editor-in-chief Jill Herzig has written an editorial for The Huffington Post denouncing OK! magazine's critique of Middleton's post-baby body (only moments after her son had emerged from her womb) and giving an example of Redbook's cover of Kristen Bell post-baby as a healthy media attitude towards celebrities post-pregnancy.
It's a nice sentiment, but the editorial is more of an ad for Redbook than it is an interesting read. (Although Herzig devotes a whopping whole sentence to admitting she's "sometimes been part of the problem" when it comes to negative media attitudes about women's bodies.) That said, it can be a good starting point to start a conversation about how we change the conversation about celebrities post-pregnancy. Currently, there are not a lot of role models out there when it comes to fuller post-pregnancy bodies, and that's for good reason. Much of the livelihood of female celebrities is dependent on the size of their clothes, and if they fall out of line, you can expect someone to call them out on it — even if they've just had a kid. The criticism of Middleton was extreme, but many media outlets aren't above criticizing celebrities like Jessica Simpson or Kourtney Kardashian mere months after they've given birth.
It's pretty routine that after giving birth, celebrities will hide from the spotlight (is there some kind of exclusive post-birthing tent for celebrities? Do they escape away to a private island?) for a few months, presumably taking care of their newborns, and then emerge, cocoon-like as a beautiful, toned butterfly. And of course, we congratulate them and beg to know their secrets of how they lost the weight, as if it's not insane that this woman had to focus on losing her "baby weight" when she needed to focus on her actual baby.
So is the solution to be more open about it? Not everyone loses weight the same way, and it's refreshing to see that celebrities like Bell and former Playboy bunny Kendra Wilkinson (on her reality show Kendra) have the same struggle losing weight as some of us plebes. It lets us know that we're not alone, that just because we can't lose the weight doesn't mean we're weird or terrible or irreversibly ugly.
Of course, most of us can only dream of looking as good as a 15-pounds-heavier Bell. And most of us will never have trainers, or nutritionists, or yoga gurus. But putting the conversation out in the open reminds us that no matter how rich, or famous, or good-looking you are, you are still human and incapable of totally conquering your stupid human body.
But on the other hand, I am so goddamn tired of hearing about female celebrities' bodies. Bikini bodies, baby bodies, post-baby bodies, Oscar bodies, training for a movie bodies. In a perfect world, this kind of chatter would fall silent. Women's bodies should not be a topic of discussion in our culture. They look however they look, and if you don't like it, you can look somewhere else. There are just too many more important and interesting things to discuss that I'll never understand why someone would write even a sentence about another woman's body after she's had a baby. Of course she looks different. And if she looks unusually good, that's nice, but I couldn't care less.
Unfortunately, it's going to take a while for our culture to realize that how a human body looks is probably one of the least interesting things to talk about. Until then, the best we can hope for is a fluffy piece about how a woman is just "doing what feels right" for her when trying to lose weight after a pregnancy — and that's somehow revolutionary.