Dear Babies, Thanks for Ruining Our Bodies. Smooches, Your Mothers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

OK. Ruin is a little strong, but that’s the latest headline buzzing around the blogosphere over the weekend.

Hard body trainer Jillian Michaels (of The Biggest Loser fame) said in her Women’s Health cover story that she’s not going the baby bump route—the effects of pregnancy on the body are just too much to handle.

Here’s her quote: “I’m going to adopt. I can’t handle doing that to my body. Also, when you rescue* something, it’s like rescuing a part of yourself.”

(*We’ll have to tackle the adoption as rescue—like some sort of pet at the pound—thing another day.)

To be fair, the “ruin” part of the hot headline is the framing choice of online news editors at blogs and magazines, and not actually Jillian Michaels’ word. (In fact, the headlines range from “ruin” to “destroy” to the woman saying she’s afraid of getting fat. Extrapolation is an art, yes?.)

Plus, celebrities—even C- and D-listers—are famous for looping back around to recant their bold or contentious statements. “I was misquoted! Hmph!”

Assume Michaels will indeed stick to her guns and retracts nothing. Let’s just look at her statement: I want kids, but I do not want to put my cut-up-lean-machine body through pregnancy. Is what she said unbelievably shallow or incredibly honest? I say it’s both.

First, to be clear, it’s a woman’s choice whether to bear children. If she chooses not to have kids, no matter how bizarre, obnoxious or outside the lines of your sensibilities her reasons may seem, it’s still her right to make that choice. (However, the woman choosing to have kids for wack-job reasons? Oh, there’s judgment there.)

Next, let’s at least be honest about what the decision to bear children entails. Your body will change. Not might, but will. Even after you lose the “baby weight,” there are things that will not return to the pre-baby bod days. Your innie bellybutton may decide to stay a semi-outie. Your stretch marks might fade just a little over many, many years … so consider those suckers permanent. Your stomach might “look like Spanish stucco and [your] breasts resemble two balloons you find behind the couch a week after the party.”*

(*This quote is from Desperate Housewives character “Lynette.” I saw it on a TV/culture blog some time ago and still laugh when I read it. The balloons imagery is too hilarious and, perhaps, too apt.)

Part of the deal, isn’t it? You go into the “making a baby” plan with the changes to your body as a given. Even though it’s a given, does that mean you can’t feel some resentment about the situation? Ah, this is where the incredibly honest element of Michaels’ quote comes into play. She’s aware of the changes and doesn’t want go through it. And she’s speaking out about it. Straight-shooter, if nothing else.

It’s still shallow, though.

Fine, from what I’ve read, Michaels was overweight as a teenager. She put in the work and dropped the extra 50-odd pounds. That’s exactly my beef with what she said. As a trainer and a former-fat, Michaels knows the importance and power of diet and exercise. So what’s her message? Once you push out a baby, there’s just no recovering from that.

Please. There are countless women who have had children and come back with stronger and better bodies than the ones they had in high school. And without resorting to the risky C-tuck that so many celebrity mamas, according to bloggy/rag folklore, have undergone.

Who knows? Maybe the prospect of deflated balloon boobs and a stucco stomach is unfathomable to someone like Michaels. Maybe she’s still working through fat kid issues from decades gone by. And really, who cares? My hope is that women, moms, recognize and celebrate the sheer brawn involved in literally bringing a child into this world. Nothing is ruined. You know that. It’s refined.

  • 1
    barneybishop says:

    Well said Blades.

  • 2
    vettie says:

    I think she said it, she use to be a fatty before.

  • 3
    Nailah says:

    I think she probably has some other issues that she’s not talking about. I mean, if anyone can get back to tip top pre-baby shape it would be the world’s toughest trainer. I’ve seen what she does to those biggest loser folks – shedding a baby tummy would be no sweat for her. I wonder how many other women feel this way though. That would be an interesting poll.

    • 3.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Yes, there was a follow-up story where she supposedly said that she has emotional and personal issues that lead her to believe she wouldn’t be able to handle pregnancy. (*side-eye*)

  • 4

    I saw where she tweeted that the mommy bloggers broke her heart. Whoops. I guess she shouldn’t have said that. But at least she was being honest. And, yes, the rescuing a child through adoption thing she said…Yikes.

  • 5
    Delores says:

    I think it’s her choice whatever that may be. Clearly she does not mind have kids just not through actual child birth. I think is what is important is the fact that she wants to have. Also there are lots of kids out there that are in need of parents.

    Would you be so hard on Ms Michaels if she had said her career came first?

    • 5.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Hi, Delores. Thanks for the comment.
      I agree that it is her choice whether to have children. As I said in the post, it doesn’t matter what her reasons are–career, finances, timing, whatever–it is 100% up to her. And I also agree that there are many children out there who need parents. Adoption is a solid option. (See Sandra Bullock). My issue with Jillian Michaels is (as a well-known, tough-as-nails fitness trainer who battled through excess weight as a teen) the message that she’s sending with her statement about the post-pregnancy body. Is bringing coming back from pregnancy is mission impossible? No. And there are teams of women out there to prove this.