Motherhood ISN’T a Competition
What is it about women that sees us constantly strive for perfection whilst comparing ourselves unfavourably with just about everyone else? In a ‘perfect’ world being a new mum would be a wondrous time, full of overwhelming love for the baby, pride in our ability to create such a miracle and a period of complete self-indulgence as we slowly adapt to this new life.
I realise for many women the reality is very different. On a serious note, those affected by issues ranging from social deprivation or physical illness to post-natal depression would love this luxury, but the one thing none of us should be getting hung up over is an unrealistic body image. Like most of us I lap up the media coverage of ‘celebrity mums’ with their gorgeous new arrivals and washboard stomachs, but perhaps 3 children later and with a lot of life experience I can turn the page, scroll down or switch off without further thought.
Well, not all the time, who am I kidding? but with each new famous ‘face’ that appears contoured, manicured, slim, gorgeous and smiling with baby in tow, I know there will be hundreds (probably thousands) of women and girls feeling like rubbish and being made to feel even more so as they are faced with images that so blatantly highlight their inability to compete.
With the explosion of social media, selfies and general self-promotion (blogging included !) nothing remains private, every experience is fair game for public consumption and with this comes the comparisons, self-consciousness and feelings of inadequacy. New mums can call up more perfect body images than they will ever have time to view, and then they can look at themselves. Guess what? the unfiltered image in the mirror without professional make-up, hair and stylist input probably won’t come out on top.
Being a new mum is every bit as hard as it should be amazing. The common physical, emotional and hormonal changes are well documented, but there are just too many mums reporting issues with their self-esteem and self-worth linked specifically to how they view their bodies in the period following childbirth. We need to take a collective responsibility for how we make each other feel. It is such a vulnerable time and there needs to be more honesty in the media about how insecure pretty much all of us feel at some point as we grapple with the truly important ‘stuff’.
I applaud the ‘celebrity’ mums who manage to look gorgeous and I wish them well as they struggle to present the perfect image that for many of them I am sure weighs heavily on their shoulders. Let’s not conspire to make this amazing time in a woman’s life another source of anxiety whether you feel unworthy or are struggling to maintain an unrealistic ideal. Cliché or not, you cannot regain valuable time with your baby and time spent agonising about a few extra folds around your tummy that I promise you every new mother has, is time wasted.