Why this photo of Claire Danes really shocked me
There I was, tucking into some roast chicken and potatoes for dinner while watching the Golden Globes, when a vision in red swept across the screen and halted my fork on its way to my mouth. Claire Danes, glowing and gorgeous, small frame draped in flowing red Versace.
But, but… wasn’t she pregnant like about five seconds ago? And I mean REALLY pregnant. Yep, this was the same Claire Danes that gave birth to her son just four weeks previously, gliding across the stage with a whisper-thin waistline as if that baby bump had just been an illusion.
I was stunned. Not just by the fact she looked so slim and fresh-faced, but also by my own reaction, which (though I reprimanded myself severely for it afterwards) was to stop eating my dinner right away and to feel secretly envious and impressed with the rubber nature of her figure and its miraculous way of bouncing back into shape so quickly. I want to be just like that, I thought.
But why? I’m almost six months pregnant and just that morning I’d been smiling to myself and marvelling at my body’s ability to expand and adapt to my growing baby. Yet one glimpse of Claire Danes in that dress and I was cursing my new curves and feeling anxious about what I was going to look like four weeks after I’d given birth. Not like Claire, I’d wager.
The next day the media reports were full of admiration for the actress for showing ‘no signs’ of her recent pregnancy. I read an interview with Claire afterwards in which she said she still had baby weight to lose, insisting she owed her svelte shape to the dress for sucking her in.
After a few hours of mulling over a) the likelihood of being able to dress entirely in Versace after giving birth (that gown simply won’t be practical when pushing a pram), and b) the realities of what dieting during pregnancy can do, I managed to talk myself back to a good place: happy, healthy and embracing my shape again.
But the media response to the photos of Claire (and any other celebrity deemed to have undergone a post-pregnancy weight-loss miracle) still makes me angry. Yes, it’s important to exercise gently and not ‘eat for two’ while pregnant, but isn’t it more important to feel relaxed, content and good about yourself so you’re mentally ready for motherhood? Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, yet Hollywood and the media treat it like a dirty secret so hideous all signs of it must be erased immediately afterwards.
So will mums ever stop being bombarded with messages about the need to emerge from the delivery ward skinnier than ever? I’m not holding my breath on that one. But there are ways to enjoy your pregnancy and still stay healthy. I’ve compiled a few dos and don’ts to help banish those baby weight anxieties…
DO: find yourself some positive pregnancy role models to get advice from, whether it’s your prenatal yoga teacher or a mum friend whose attitude you admire.
DON’T: read the stories in the press about who has or hasn’t lost their baby weight. Give your body the credit it deserves for undergoing the process of pregnancy and birth.
DO: heed the official advice about eating during pregnancy. That means eating plenty of lean meats and fish, vegetables, cereals and low-fat dairy products.
DON’T: abstain from treats altogether. If you’re really craving that biscuit or slice of cake then let yourself have it. Just remember to eat foods with high sugar or salt content in moderation.
DO: keep up with a gentle exercise regime. Walking, pregnancy exercise classes and swimming are ideal to keep you active and fit in preparation for labour.
DON’T: hurry to slim down immediately after birth. It’s important to start gently and build up your fitness again slowly. Rushing straight back into the ab crunches and weights before your muscles have recovered can result in strains and injuries that could put you out of action entirely.
Do you think the media puts too much pressure on new mums to lose weight after pregnancy? What are your tips for staying body confident after having a child?
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