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Devon Corneal

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Bump in the Road

Posted: 08/21/2012 9:01 am

A couple of weeks ago I went on a little rant about how insane it is to expect new mothers to fit back in their skinny jeans weeks after giving birth. I get annoyed when people worship the boomerang bodies of certain women fortunate enough to transform from human incubator to sexpot in a few weeks. I asked us all to give new moms a break. No one paid that much attention. So I was initially happy to see that Janice Min's piece this weekend in the New York Times raised similar issues.

Min wrote:

The notion that instantly stick-thin figures after birth are normal is untrue. Sometimes, in my sleep-deprived nights, I ponder our ideal of this near-emaciated, sexy and well-dressed Frankenmom we've created and wonder how to undo her. Even just a little bit. Not only for the pressure to let up on me, and you, but also perhaps so my little baby girl can one day love her own children, too, without hating her body at the same time.

I couldn't agree more. Min perfectly articulates why our obsession with perfect tiny post-baby bodies is detrimental not only to us, but to our kids. I thought I had found a fellow rebel in the fight against the tyranny of the yummy-mummy.

Except, she's not a rebel. Not even close.

Janice Min, in her diatribe against Frankenmoms, confesses that she is the mother not only of three children, but also of the "celebrity bump watch" culture that consistently objectifies new mothers, chronicles celebrities' weight loss, and applauds their thin, sexy, post-baby selves. (Although she is careful not to take all the credit blame.) At the helm of Us Magazine, she supplied the chum that allowed the rest of us to keep up our feeding frenzy.

Now, she's unhappy that her past has come back to bite her in the ass. I could forgive her that. Maybe it wasn't until she gained her own saggy stomach and was humiliated by her manicurist that she really understood the damage all those magazine covers caused. Motherhood can bring even the most oblivious women to their knees. She doesn't work at Us anymore. That's surely a sign that she's changed her ways, right?

Not so much.

Buried in her exhortations against the "genetic aberrations [who] smile at us from celebrity magazines" and "our looks-obsessed culture," is this little tidbit:

There is no virtue in letting oneself go after giving birth. And let's face it: celebrities aren't always terrible examples; many eat well, exercise and dress far cuter than we do. They've learned how to pull it together, so much so that I wrote a new book filled with simple advice from their stylists, makeup artists and trainers. We all can learn a little from people whose profession is to be attractive.

There is so much wrong there, that I bolded the important part so you wouldn't miss it. She wrote a book so new moms could learn how to be more attractive. It's titled "How to Look Hot in a Minivan: A Real Woman's Guide to Losing Weight, Looking Great, and Dressing Chic in the Age of the Celebrity Mom."

Now, I haven't read the book, but it sounds an awful lot like a diet book to me. We're supposed to feel bad for Min because she hasn't lost her baby weight and doesn't blend with the skinny women at her nail salon and at the same time approve of the new book she's written that gives non-celebrity moms the chance to look just like the celebrity moms she's saying we shouldn't aspire to be? Putting aside the overt hypocrisy of it all, I have to wonder how effective her book is if she looks like she's "hidden one of those Heineken mini-kegs" under her shirt four months after giving birth. If I'm going to plunk down $20.11 for tips to keep me sassy and skinny while mixing up formula and carpooling, the author better look like a Victoria's Secret model. If not, I'll choose from one of the 70,000 other diet books I can find online, or better yet, I'll go eat a cupcake.

Amazon's product description (which would not be out of place in the latest issue of Us), raves that "In How to Look Hot in a Minivan, Min dispels the idea that looking great post-pregnancy is only for the rich, the pampered, and the lucky. With Min's guilt-free, stay-sane strategies, moms everywhere can look and feel like stars -- whether their baby is six months or sixteen years." Guilt-free? Does anyone else's head hurt? Either Min was coming off a serious bender when she wrote her piece in the Times, or she's playing us all for fools. Min has not, as the Amazon description claims, set "out to debunk some of Hollywood's biggest mommy myths." Instead, she keeps perpetuating the biggest baddest ones: that if we just tried a little harder, we could all look like celebrities and, more importantly, we should want to.

 

Follow Devon Corneal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcorneal

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