There is so much pressure on women today to have it all – and to look good while having it. First, it’s finding the perfect career, then, it’s juggling that career while hunting down a husband. And then, if you want to have children and stay in the working world, the golden triangle becomes your goal: career, wife, mother. How exhausting. There’s little wonder that women around the world are rolling over with headaches moaning, “not tonight, Honey”. (I just want to add that it’s equally hard for women who become mums and choose not to re-enter the workforce).
Once, a man who cheated on his wife told me that while she was a great business partner, wife and mother, he wasn’t getting enough sex and so he had to look elsewhere. Really? As much as there is an abundance of support for women today – and this situation maybe an extreme one – we can’t deny that this belief is floating around in various alterations and that women are feeling the pressure to have it all, lest they lose it.
These high expectations of achievement and aesthetics even extend to shedding extra pounds after giving birth. Thanks to the growing trend of flaunting our best angles online and some quick slim down tricks, women are expected to lose all their pregnancy weight pronto. We’re inundated with images on social media and in magazines of women proudly posting their post-baby bodies for the world to admire. And we do. The media and us, the consumers, commend them on their hard work and speedy bounce back, as though it were a race. If only their real secrets were exposed. Do we think Kim Kardashian was just sitting in her living room waiting for the baby fat to shift while struggling to get through each day with a newborn? More than likely, she had a strict exercise regime and plenty of professional help with the baby. We are constantly bombarded with images of women posing with their flat tummies as little as weeks or even days after giving birth. (One footballer’s wife posted a photo of a flat tummy just four days after giving birth!) Is this what we expect of new mothers today? To achieve the perfect post-baby body in a matter of days? And we’re not even touching on the amazing parenting skills every new mum is supposed to automatically inherent along with the baby (insert sarcasm here).
Recently, Kelly Clarkson was criticised (from one British journalist, in particular) for her weight gain or, in reality, her more natural post-baby body. On looking at recent photos of Kelly, one can see a difference, but after giving birth eight months ago to her daughter, River, is there even any need to comment on her fuller, post-baby figure? We should be happy that someone is being realistic about what many women experience. Don’t new mums and, indeed, all women have enough to worry about without stressing about a thin figure? That journey is a never-ending spiral to perfection and, more often than not, frustration – continually chased but never fully achieved. What is body perfection these days, anyway? Will we ever be thin enough? Recently Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison dropped 7kg in 10 days after previously dropping from a size 16 to a 6 in just 3 months but is fixated on loosing more weight. When is enough enough?
I’m at that age when my friends are having babies and I’m saddened when I hear them complain about their ever-changing bodies and the weight gain that naturally comes with pregnancy. Yes, they are over the moon about having a baby, but while they watch the pounds pile on they begin to stress about how they look and what will happen to their bodies once the baby arrives. And once it does, they complain about no longer feeling sexy, but are they really no longer sexy or have we just been paying attention to the wrong role models? If you don’t look as toned as Beyonce did after she gave birth to Blue Ivy, does that mean your sex appeal has vanished? Your sex appeal should hinge on your self-confidence, not your weight. It’s no longer a matter of simply keeping up with the Jones’s, now you need to look better than them, too.
I embrace women of all shapes and sizes, but I also embrace health. You don’t have to be a size zero to be healthy and, actually, the opposite is often the case. I also support women and their mental health. Is it healthy to harshly criticise Kelly Clarkson for her natural post-baby body? All that does is send another blow to women and give them unrealistic standards they must struggle to live up to. It seems the goal has moved beyond the golden triangle of perfect career, perfect wife, and perfect mother, now we need the perfect body to go with it. No matter how much we achieve as women, if we subscribe to the ideals portrayed by those in the public eye, it seems to have no value unless a high physical standard comes as part of the package.
While the battle against media role models and the abundance of bad messages they peddle is ongoing, I was happy to see a fuller-figured Clarkson gracing the cover of US In Touch magazine recently. It’s not just her image I was thankful for but also her retort to the criticism about her weight. In defense of herself following the journalist’s comments, Kelly said: “That’s because she [the journalist] doesn’t know me. I’m awesome! It doesn’t bother me.” If only more women around the world, whether they’re pregnant, new mums, or otherwise, could stop worrying about every kilogram and focus on just that – being awesome! It’s easier than the golden triangle, I’ll wager.
These days, I don’t stress about being the career woman, the wife, or the mother who is both perfect and sexy at all stages, there is, however, one thing I aim to be, and that’s awesome, the way I see fit!