For years, moms across the world have worked hard to make sure that no mom feels the pressure to “snap back” into her pre-baby body in an unreasonable amount of time after having a baby.
This is because giving birth can be one of the most traumatic things to happen to the human body. This is over and above the litany of pregnancy symptoms and complications some woman face while carrying their pregnancies.
For some, returning to the exact weight, shape or size they were before they fell pregnant can be near impossible. Especially with the enormous pressure to do so within weeks of giving birth while one is healing from a major medical event.
This unspoken pressure comes from a number of places in each woman’s life, but seeing their favourite celebrity do it with ease only adds to this pressure.
— Minnie Dlamini Jones (@MinnieDlamini) September 19, 2020
One such celebrity is Minnie Dlamini-Jones, who recently posted an image of herself looking like she didn’t just give birth a week ago.
“uMama kabani lona? #SnapBack” [who’s mom is this] read her caption.
Considering the fact that a number of women complain about not feeling like themselves during (and after) pregnancy, one can only understand why Dlamini-Jones would want to celebrate how she looks, and how she may possibly be feeling.
However, as a new mom, armed with this understanding of what it feels like, and a public figure with such a large and influential platform, she also has the added responsibility of thinking about the impact of messages she sends out.
“Wow didn’t u just give birth last week, some people are blessed with beautiful bodies,” commented @azolacetywayo.
“BATHONG!!! Post-preggie fire e kana?! Why are you fighting us??” added @healthyfitdee_24.
“What in the witchcraft is this,” jokingly commented @mrs_mangz.
Some public personalities are more open about the harder aspects of postpartum recovery and motherhood, and new moms – who often feel very isolated – find this honesty helpful.
American media personality, sexologist and intimacy educator Shannon Boodram has taken this approach.
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Like Dlamini-Jones, Boodram recently shared how she felt about her postpartum body just days after giving birth to her first child at age 34. However, unlike Dlamini-Jones, Boodram’s post was anything but but glamorous and sexy.
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Pointing this out is by no means a criticism of Dlamini-Jones and how she chooses to acclimate to her new role as a mother and her body. It should rather be seen as concern for how the moms in her follower base might be feeling.
“Celebrities are, by default, aspirational figures; and that subsequently makes their social media pages platforms for aspirationalism,” says young mom Pabi Masemola.
“In the context of body image portrayal, I think thin/conventionally sexy celebs shouldn’t post body pics that focus on their attained/sustained physique, because this further perpetuates the idea that skinniness is the benchmark. I believe this is especially true for postpartum women,” adds Masemola.
This is because she believes new moms are more likely to look outward for guidance and a “blueprint” on what motherhood looks like and what it entails.
“And if the aspirational mothers implicitly say it looks or should look like pre-natal abs and toned glutes – then that’s we strive for. But we’re met with disappointment or discouragement when we learn that it isn’t actually always attainable. The type of discouragement that can very easily contaminate your view of yourself as a new mom.
“One definitely realises how rife fatphobia is in society, and how deeply ingrained into our own beliefs it is. And that same fatphobia is validated when the people we aspire to be like work relentlessly at ensuring that they look like they were never even pregnant. It’s difficult to love your new body when you’re constantly bombarded with messages of how your body should not look like it grew a human from scratch from people we admire and look up to.”
Mother of two, Hillary Mkwasa, echos Masemola’s sentiments.
“I think it’s unfair, because society gets this perception that every woman who just had a baby should look a certain way , and if they don’t they do not take good care of themselves.”
Mkwasa adds that this perception lowers a new mommy’s self esteem, causing them to even hate their bodies as opposed to embracing the change and understanding that recovery takes time and is different from woman to woman.
“Some celebrities get to go through so many procedures like liposuction and Brazilian butt lifts and end up looking their best before they even got pregnant, putting pressure on women to think that’s how we are meant to look to be a ‘yummy mommy’.”
Kaunda is an analogue girl navigating a digital world using the perspective provided by news. She has always had a desire to amass a wealth of knowledge on a range of varied topics and this is reflected in the content she produces. As a digitally adept social media user, you can always trust Kaunda to bring you up to speed on what’s going on in the world at any given moment.