Have you been following the controversy surrounding the pregnant model with abs? In short, 30-year-old Sarah Stage has been documenting her pregnancy on social media sites like Instagram. Now nearly ready to deliver, her bump is—shall we say—quite subtle, appearing more of a gentle arc surrounded by visible abdominal muscles.
This has people very much in a tizzy. Her posts have generated thousands of comments, ranging from the envious and self loathing to the hateful and shaming. My first question, to borrow a cultural phrase from a very formative time in my life, is: Can't we all just get along? Seriously, can't we all agree to stop body shaming and judging? If the comments on this model's photos—and on every pregnant woman's posts, and every parent's posts, and every person's posts—looked like the warm and supportive comments on the Humans of New York posts... well then, the world would truly be a more magical and perfect place.
But moving beyond that, let's all get with reality here. This model looks gorgeous, obviously. She also says she has gained 20 pounds so far in her pregnancy, which is nearing the recommended guidelines for a person of normal weight. (And she claims to eat the occasional cheeseburger, so she's apparently not starving herself in the hopes of keeping weight off during pregnancy.) And she hits the gym with regularity. But in addition to her workout regimen, it would be quite obvious to anyone with the remotest critical-thinking abilities (so all of us here, of course!) that genetics plays a huge role in her current physique—and our inherited genetics, alas, are out of our control.
That's why, likewise, most of us have only some amount of control over our pregnancy physiques. That's me in the photo at 35 weeks, pregnant with twins. You'll notice my decided lack of abs while I carried 12 pounds and 2 ounces worth of baby in my midsection. I'm also a generally fit person, who has been known to schedule entire days around gimmicky workout classes that excite me. So imagine my surprise and disappointment when I found myself halfway through my pregnancy and unable to work out—and discouraged by my doctors to do even prenatal yoga given my risk categories, and excessive fluid, or polyhydramnios—and barely able to even walk by 32 weeks. It's not what I'd had in mind, and it wouldn't have been my preference nor my choice, but it didn't happen because I was lazy and didn't want pregnancy abs (I can barely write the words without laughing because of how unlikely the phenomenon is among the masses) bad enough.
Similarly, pretty much no one else ever will have pregnancy abs. There is a margin of error there, but I'm pretty sure it's small. But all pregnant bodies are freakin' miraculous—can I get an amen? So I'd prefer we all use that language to describe them instead of using words like "fit" on one side of the spectrum (with implied judgment that women who gain more are lazy) or "GIANT" and "huge" on the other (as if, in many cases, those women could choose the precise ways in which their bodies changed).
So that's my take on the pregnant abs dust up. Now don't get me started on the cultural post-pregnancy body feedback...
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Photo courtesy of Alesandra Dubin