Joining the Kate debate…OK! Magazine Boycott and The Pressure on New Mother’s to Get Back In Shape

As the world will know, on Monday 22nd July William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, finally became proud parents to their first beautiful baby boy and future King of England, George Alexander Louis.  I, like many, had Sky News running most of the afternoon awaiting the moment they stepped through those famous doors at the Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital as Charles and Diana had done 31 years previously with William.

Considering Kate had given birth only 24 hours earlier it was remarkable to see how incredibly radiant she looked and I, for one, applauded her choice of outfit which clearly showed her post-partum bump. This made a refreshing change from the all too familiar sight of celebrities and WAG’s seen leaving hospital squeezed into size 8 dresses having seemingly ‘snapped’ back into shape within 48 hours. The truth being they may have yielded to the overwhelming pressure of the media upon them to look unrealistically great and subjected themselves to either an invasive tummy tuck or are likely bound to within an inch of their lives for those all important pap shots. But does this sort of publicity to show the world how ‘amazing’ they look really send the right message, or does it simply serve to leave the rest of us ‘real mums’ feeling deflated and inadequate?

Is it also any wonder therefore why OK! magazine has been the subject of a severe backlash from readers and mothers who have branded the magazine as “vile” and “disgusting” for its front cover headline about Kate’s post-baby weight loss regime so close to her birth? They showed poor judgment on their timing with their cover story, such was their desire to cash in on all the publicity surrounding the royal couple, when instead they should have held back and focused on the baby and Kate and William’s joy at being new parents. TV presenter Katy Hill was so outraged about the magazine’s decision to go to print on the subject before Kate had EVEN LEFT the hospital that she started a ‘boycott OK! magazine’ campaign on Twitter that went viral within hours, such was the strength of feeling from mothers on the sensitive subject of the post-baby body. OK! only added fuel to the fire by outrageously tweeting:

The tweet was quickly removed once the extent of the backlash became clear. I can only assume that the person who was ignorant and obnoxious enough to write such an offensive tweet on the magazine’s behalf either had a career suicide wish or was a spotty male intern who could be accused of not knowing any better.

One could argue that the magazine was simply attempting to inspire and motivate other new ‘yummy mummies’ who were desperate to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back in ‘no’ time.

Inside the magazine claims: “The question on everyone’s lips is not just the name, sex or weight of the baby, but also how Kate plans to return to her pre-pregnancy glory.”

The magazine carries a six page ‘Duchess Diet and Shape-up plan’ apparently meant to ‘help’ us all get back in shape when the reality is, for many of us, all we really care about in those early days is getting through the day, feeding our baby and feeling a sense of achievement if we are out of our pyjamas before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

As an aside, this is not the first time OK! magazine has shown bad judgment when it comes to their choice of front cover.  Whatever, your opinion of the late Jade Goody at the time, I remember being shocked and disgusted at OK!’s decision to run a full memorial issue on her BEFORE she had even passed away from her cancer battle. For me, it was a step too far and I questioned what editor in their right mind would choose to run something that was in such incredibly poor taste and inconceivably insensitive….It was sensationalist journalism at its lowest.

But back to the debate…It seems to me that the pressure placed on women and new mothers these days to look ‘good’ at all times is becoming increasingly prevalent. The pressure on any mother to do it all can be enormous, no matter what age her child is, whether it be a newborn or a teenager. But we all know for new mothers in particular, the change in our situation and our bodies can have a profound affect on us and our self-esteem, so do we really need the added layer of media pressure exposing us (and poor Kate who has the whole world watching her) to its expectations of how we should all look (apparently) post-partum?

There has of course been the inevitable flip side to the argument with many women angry that they should be judged for wanting to get in shape soon after birth and that this in some way implies that it makes them bad mothers….

Having experienced my post-pregnancy body on three occasions now, the whole debate is a familiar one. I admit that I was desperate to lose my baby weight but I wanted to do it sensibly and within the right time frame. As a breast-feeding mother, I was keen not to start rationing my calories too soon for fear the affect might have on my milk supply. I found breast-feeding and cutting out on high sugar ‘unhealthy’ snacks really worked for me.

My reasons were simply practical ones. I was less concerned about what the world thought of my post-pregnancy body and more focused on the fact that my new body fell between the gap between my pre-pregnancy shape and my pregnant one. My wardrobe choice had become uninspiring and limited as my maternity clothes were becoming too big and my pre-pregnancy clothes were too small.

I loved my pre-pregnancy clothes and wanted them back! I was also reluctant to splash out on a whole new temporary wardrobe. I was suffering more from a vanity of fashion than a concern over shape if the truth be known!

As a way of celebrating motherhood and also to try and help diffuse this highly emotional debate, I personally think that as women we have the right to make our OWN choices. We should not be governed by what others think, what the media thinks, or what magazines ‘advise’. If it makes you happy to work out because you want to reclaim ‘you’ then as long as you are doing it for emotionally healthy reasons and your baby is still being nourished and loved, then why not?

If however, the very thought of it is just too much right now, then seriously don’t beat yourself up. The baby weight battle can wait and you should feel no pressure to conform to what you think society and the media demands of you. Focus instead on getting sleep where you can, enjoying your baby and getting through the day. You have done an amazing thing by bringing another human being into the world so give yourself a pat on the back and then MAYBE when you’re through the haze of the first 8 weeks start thinking about where you want to go from there…

Ultimately though we all need to unite, be kind to each other and work at creating healthy role models for our children (particularly our daughters) to look up to. Our body shapes do not define us and neither should they. I personally believe that we owe it to ourselves and our children to try and live strong, healthy lives but I will never be afraid to eat that pudding or have a glass of wine occasionally. We SHOULD be allowed to treat ourselves sometimes because let’s face it…we’ve damn well earned it! 🙂

 

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