So it turns out Geri Halliwell and I have a lot in common. She is only one year older than me but we won't dwell on the fact that she is an international mega star and I am, errm, not! She also gave birth a month or two before I did. Both to our second children. Both boys. One thing that we definitely do NOT have in common is our post baby figures. I mean, before I got pregnant this time I was a slim size 8-10. I suspect Geri was much slimmer. However, a few weeks afterwards Ms Halliwell (now Horner I believe) is back to her normal super svelte self. She posted a pic of herself on Instagram swinging from the branch of a tree on some fabulous woodland walk with her flat stomach as taut and tight as a drum. As I write this I am literally grimacing at the thought. I am currently almost resting my small glass of wine on the shelf that is my new post second baby paunch. I do NOT have the time and energy to swing from the branch of a tree. I still can't get back into my skinny pre baby jeans. I'm barely squeezing into my "fat jeans". You can most likely find me sterilising bottles, wiping baby sick off my shoulder or gently screaming at my husband that I want to kill him each time he tells me how tired HE is. When am I meant to have time to do sit ups?! I mean, I want to, I used to frequent the gym but now when am I meant to find the time and energy exactly?!
The thing is, I am quite bright. I understand that every woman's body is different and so are our circumstances. My body was previously traumatised by a couple of closely experienced miscarriages followed by a challenging pregnancy health- wise this time around. I also had a four year old to look after whilst juggling my pretty full on job as a psychologist. Why am I expecting so much of myself now then? I pretty much snapped back to my old slim body after my first son. He slept and I was able to fit in a bit of "Davina's- Fit in 15 minutes DVD". Now I am thinking about the one million jobs I have to somehow get done before it's 2.40pm and I'm off on the school run...
I feel ambivalent about Geri's flat tummy. On one hand I'm not a woman hater; I want to celebrate her body and be happy she is looking and feeling (apparently) so good. But I'm sad in another way that she wanted to flaunt it without wondering about the impact on regular humans. Her post was designed in some way to elevate herself and invite some praise and adulation. "Wow, you look amazing" etc etc. At the same time it's pretty much a middle finger to the rest of us average ladies struggling to feel OK about the new podgy version of ourselves.
When did this become a "thing" anyway? Why is it so fantastic to "snap back" after having a baby? Does it mean that you're back to yourself if you can do this. Does this mean you're " healthy and happy" postpartum? Probably not always. Perhaps we could all be a little mindful of how we talk about women's bodies post childbirth. I mean it takes nine months for your body to grow and accommodate this new human, doesn't it make sense that it will take a similar amount of time to get back to your pre baby self? Should the media, celebs and the rest of us say this out loud a bit more so that women are able to enjoy the process of being with their babies and bonding rather than worrying about whether it means you're a failure to still be in your maternity jeans four months after your baby comes along.
To my mind the responsibility lies with us all not to buy into this nonsense. This means you too Ms Halliwell/ Horner! Can't you just post a pic of you looking less than glamorous and just a little bit "mumfortable " to redress the balance?!
HuffPost UK Parents is running a week-long focus on 'Mumbod' to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We are launching a section on the site that focuses on all aspects of mums' bodies and highlights the amazing things they are capable of. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.