When I think of soon-to-be mom-of-two—and former live-in girlfriend of Hugh Hefner—Holly Madison, my mind immediately conjures up images of her seemingly perfect body. But in a new blog post on E! Online, the expectant star says she is so over the body-after-baby hype—and the pressure to be perfect postpartum.
"We all know the 'Body After Baby' phenomenon," she writes. "Even if you are a man. You have no doubt seen countless magazine covers or blog posts on how such-and-such celebrity looks SO amazing just a few weeks after giving birth. Sure, everyone wants to be healthy. Women have always been interested in getting back in shape after having a child. But when did this become a race against the clock? When did it become expected that everyone needs to be a bangin' MILF with ripped abs a month after popping out a baby?"
Um, yeah, we're wondering the same thing.
Of course, Madison admits when she was pregnant with her first daughter Rainbow Aurora with husband Pasquale Rotella, she was so ready to snap back into shape post-baby, especially since she took great care of herself while expecting. So imagine her surprise when her famous hourglass figure seemed like a distant memory right after Rainbow was born.
"The truth is, for most people, you go into the hospital looking 9 to 10 months pregnant, and walk out looking approximately six months pregnant," she writes. "The uterus doesn't snap back overnight." The former Girls Next Door star's still-pregnant look lead to salespeople asking her when she was due, weeks after she'd given birth. "Crestfallen, I had to look at them and say, 'Oh, I had my baby last weekend.'"
Madison began a disciplined exercise and diet plan as soon as her doctor said it was okay, and says breastfeeding helped her shed pounds. Still, she confesses, "I was able to appear at an event, looking quite thin, a few weeks after giving birth, but I have to admit that the illusion was accomplished only because I chose a flattering, belted dress and underneath that, was wearing two waist cinchers layered on top of each other!"
The star even felt comfortable enough in her own skin to do a "Body After Baby" spread in a national magazine just six weeks post-baby. She writes, "I still had some pounds to lose, but I was confident enough to wear a bikini for the shoot. I felt good about myself, knowing I had worked as hard as I could and done everything possible to stay healthy during my pregnancy and to get back in shape after it. Just as I was giving myself a pat on the back, I saw a blog post about some actress who was back to work, looking as thin as ever, just two weeks after giving birth!"
Like any normal person, the reality mama admits, "I felt like a failure. I had done everything I possibly could to lose the weight and someone appeared to have done it so much faster than I had. Instinctively, I wondered what I had done wrong."
Of course, she hadn't done anything wrong, and Madison has come to the conclusion that the body-after-baby hype is not doing anyone any favors. She writes, "Feeling pressure to drop the pounds fast isn't making anyone healthier. I know because I did it the healthy way and it took me almost a year to get back in shape."
Wow. What a refreshing, honest take on post-baby bodies, especially coming from a Hollywood insider.
But here's my favorite part: Madison writes, "If you just gave birth and are feeling bad about not losing the weight fast enough (especially compared to all the celebrities in the magazines), you shouldn't feel that way. Trust me, most of these miraculous, Hollywood weight loss stories are most likely aided by a lot of retouching, liposuction, undergarments or all three."
Well, thank God!
At the end of her post, Madison offers this pledge about losing weight after she delivers her second child: "Part of me doesn't want to participate in the hype or make women feel like they have to be in a race to lose weight. If I do decide to do photos, I'll have one condition: if you are going to look at my 'skinny' pictures, you have to see my 'big' ones, too—real photos I took along the journey towards getting in shape, to show what I really looked like after having a baby."
I, for one, can't wait to see a real Hollywood post-baby body journey. Because it's true that seeing photos of women looking perfect right after giving birth contributes to average moms like me feeling disgusting and abnormal for walking around with a squishy belly and extra pounds in the first several months postpartum. Which is ridiculous if you think about it, because we just grew a person inside our bodies!
Thank you, Holly, for getting real, something that is sadly so rare in today's perfection-obsessed culture.
What's your reaction to her post?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.