Vocabulary Lesson

Yesterday on the BFD Facebook page, I linked to an article in The New York Times about moms dealing with post-pregnancy weight loss. In particular, the article talks about the shaming that happens when celebrity moms don’t lose weight in what society (or, rather, tabloid magazines) feels is a timely manner. I asked my BFD readers to weigh in on this article, as I felt that it included some fat-shaming language. For example, the caption in the photo at at the top claims Beyonce is one of the “fortunate” ones, meaning she quickly transformed her body back to it’s pre-pregnancy shape (and implying that thin bodies are “fortunate”). The writer also says, “Of course, I am all for looking great, feeling good and getting skinny.”

That, right there, that’s what got me. “Getting skinny.” I really hate this word. Maybe it’s because I never have been and never will be it. Or maybe it’s because the word makes a lot of people, women in particular, feel bad about themselves. You might remember that I railed against Bob Harper for making this word the focus of his latest book. If we could only replace that word in our collective vocabulary with the word “healthy,” I think we’d all feel better about our bodies.

I’m not a mom, so there are issues in this article that I can’t relate to. But I can relate to making this world a safer place for daughters everywhere. There are plenty of women out there who learned to hate their bodies because their mothers hated their own bodies. We pass our body loathing and fat fear down through the generations. But what if mothers started talking to their daughters about being healthy, instead of skinny?

Just for a minute, think about how you’d feel about your body if you based its worth on strength and ability, and not size. If you based your worth on accomplishing a physical goal (whether it’s running a 10K or walking up a flight of stairs without getting winded) instead of how you look in a bathing suit.

It’s a hard thing to do. I get down about my body a lot. But then I look at my half marathon medals and realize all of the amazing things I have accomplished, and will accomplish, with this body. If you’re a mother, I hope you can look at your post-pregnancy body and realize the amazing thing that it did: bringing a human being into the world.

One last thing: If someone asks you how much weight you gained when you were pregnant, you don’t have to answer. That’s no one’s business but your own (and your doctor’s), and doesn’t reflect on your worth as a mother or a woman.