My Body Post-Baby: Still My (Amazing) Body

Whenever a famous woman has a baby, you can count on at least two things:

1. The name of said baby will be a source of great fascination for far too many people, and
2. When said famous woman rejoins her publicly famous life and starts to be photographed again, all of the headlines will be some version of how she got her “Body Back After Baby”

Though there are countless examples of this, let’s just look at one recent case study for the sake of brevity: Blake Lively. She had a baby about two months ago (a girl named James, if you need the answer to #1 satisfied), and then showed up at New York Fashion Week. When Serena Van der Woodsen steps out on the town, her clothes are always a hot topic. This time of course, it was all about how she filled out her clothes because OH MY GOD SHE HAD A BABY.

Here are some of my favorite headlines, winners of the Utterly Ridiculous Headline Contest that I just held; I was the only judge:

Blake Lively Debuts Amazing Post-Baby Body At New York Fashion Week!

Hahaha… Debuts her body. Um, pretty sure she debuted her body sometime in the 80s and it’s been here ever since.

Blake Lively Makes First Post-Baby Public Appearance, Glows With Happiness at New York Fashion Week

“Glows With Happiness” aka “has a really great makeup artist”

Blake Lively Makes a Triumphant Post-Baby Return to Fashion Week

Triumphant. She is triumphantly dressed and standing in front of photographers. I’m all for congratulating the woman, but let’s not congratulate her for putting on a dress and going to a fashion show. Let’s congratulate her for Having A Baby, because that sh*t is HARD.

Then of course there are the blatant WE’RE ALL LOOKING AT YOUR BODY headlines:

NYFW 2015: Blake Lively Shows Off Flat Tummy

Blake Lively Flaunts Flat Tummy At NYFW 1 Month After Baby’s Birth

Blake Lively somehow looks like this after having a baby

Well, let me tell you how, Toronto Sun… It’s called Spanx. And having a personal trainer. And a nutritionist. And being a 27-year-old whose body was super fit to begin with, before all the baby magic happened.

Then there’s this little gem:

Ryan Reynolds may be the Green Lantern, but Blake Lively might have some super powers of her own.

She does! The super power of being a woman and growing, birthing, and nurturing a brand new human! Oh… you meant her flat stomach. Whomp.

I admit that I’m extra uppity about all of this because coming up on four months ago, I had a baby. I will also confess that throughout pregnancy and since giving birth, I’ve been concerned about things like gaining weight and getting back in shape. I like being fit and active, and in news that will surprise no one, it’s challenging to prioritize those things when you have a beautiful, captivating newborn to snuggle and feed and love and care for.

What I could not have told you with fervor and conviction before this whole experience, is that my body is Amazing. It’s f*cking Amazing. It isn’t amazing because I have a flat stomach. (I do not now, nor have I ever had a flat stomach.) It’s amazing because I grew another person inside of me, and then brought that person into the world with a staggering amount of effort and pain, and throughout all of it, my body was my body. I don’t need to “get my body back”, because it’s still here. It’s always been here. And it is magical.

My body isn’t the same as it was at 23, and it isn’t the same as it was a year ago. My body is capable, and mystifying, and a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. My first and forever hope for my body is that it will continue to serve me well, for as long as I am lucky enough to live in it.

For anyone out there – especially anyone who has given birth – who feels bad about their own body when looking at pictures of Flat Tummy New Mom Blake Lively (or any of her New Mom Celebrity peers), please remember that it’s her Job to look like that. She has Employees who help her do that job, and she has Economic Resources that most of us can barely fathom. She is also, undoubtedly, wearing Spanx.

Your body is amazing. Your body is a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. Take a moment to thank your body for everything it gives you every day, then stretch or run or jump or dance just because you can. Your body is amazing.

bebe body
before / during / after

Friday Feminist Funtimes – All About That Bass

Today my friend Megan posted this video on the book of faces, and it’s about as Fun as FFF gets. The song is catchy, the video is totes adorbs, and it’s had me tappin’ my feet and chair dancin’ all day.

Now I’m getting used to all the naysayers and the nays that they say, so before you shake fists and wave placards, allow me to address the lyrics that are sure to irk some folks out there…

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places…”

“I’m bringin’ booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…”

She also references “stick figure silicone barbie doll”s, and how “boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” I know, I know. This reopens wounds incurred by slogans like Real Women Have Curves and Healthy is the New Skinny. But before you decry the indignities of how ‘skinny girls are people, too!!’, there are a few things we need to acknowledge.

1. Yes, all women are real women, regardless of shape or size. We here at Beauty Coup do not support body shaming of any kind.

2. Yes, skinny women can also be healthy women. So can large women, muscular women, not muscular women, young women, old women, and so on and so forth. Let’s also remember that there are sick people in the world who are no less beautiful for their illness.

3. When it comes to media and entertainment, there is a crucial truth that is often ignored or overlooked. This truth can be summarized by a concept known as othering. 

If you’ve ever taken a media studies class, odds are good that you know what this means. If not, here’s the short, short version in non-academic language:

Othering is when we as a collective culture have distaste for that which is not like us. That distaste can run the gamut from disdain to fear to outright hostility. Othering happens when we judge another person or group of people who are not like us simply because they are not like us, without any understanding of their individual and/or collective humanity.

It is these marginalized groups, these victims of othering, who need to be put in the spotlight when it comes to supporting broader definitions of beauty, and creating a greater understanding of what it means to have value and worth as a human being.

In light of that, I have some tough news for some of you:

If you are thin, you are privileged.
If you are white, you are privileged.
If you are young, you are privileged.
If you are straight, you are privileged.
If you are wealthy, you are privileged.
If you are a man, you are privileged.

I started that list, by the by, with the two (and a half) ways in which I am privileged. As I see it, it isn’t enough to rouse the rabble only concerning the privileges denied to us, we also have a responsibility to celebrate all kinds of beauty – regardless of the shape, size, color, age, gender, economic standing, or sexuality that it comes packaged in.

So if you find yourself feeling slighted because you’re thin and this cute video is celebrating girls with ‘bass’, remember this: just because she says ‘skinny bitches,’ it doesn’t mean she thinks skinny people suck. Odds are really, really good that the skinny bitch in the video is one of her BFFs.

Take the time to acknowledge your privileges. When someone steps up to holler about and celebrate something that is usually diminished, ignored, slighted, or feared, and you find you have the urge to yell back, “but what about me???” I encourage you to pause and think about all that your privileges have already afforded you.

Now shake that money maker, whatever its size!

Nina

Eleven years ago on April 21st, I was taking a jazz dance class in downtown Minneapolis. When the instructor walked in, she said we were going to do something different that day, because Nina Simone had died.

Moving to the stereo, our instructor played the tune ‘Since I Fell For You.’ The first time through, we simply listened. That voice – the clarity, the range, sultry and a touch androgynous – singing of love and loss and longing.

I was grateful. To Ms. Simone for creating such powerful music that has always affected me deeply, and to my dance instructor for taking the time to honor a great woman, wholly unique in her spirit and talent.

Today would have been Nina Simone’s 81st birthday. In her 70 years on this earth, she stirred us and moved us and inspired us to rise up. I am not a dancer, in the strictest sense of the word. But I have never felt more like a dancer than on that day eleven years ago, as my body moved in tandem with women I don’t remember and will never see again, to the seductive, haunting sounds of the masterful, soulful, divine Ms. Nina Simone.

Join us, on this day of Friday Feminist Funtimes, in thanking Nina Simone for all that she gave. And do yourself a favor – go listen to her music.

Nina+Simone