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Michelle Noehren

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An Open Letter to Hilary Duff

Posted: 12/14/2012 12:22 pm

Dear Hil,

I know we don't know each other, but if I was going to pick any celebrity to be friends with, it would be you. See, we already have a special kind of bond and I think we're kindred spirits. Wait, WAIT -- don't close the browser out yet, I know that sounds a little crazy town, but let me explain.

I had my daughter 18 months ago and every time I read a story about the latest celebrity mom to have a baby and bounce back into shape just four weeks after giving birth, I'm reminded of just how hard it is to be a mom in our society.

And then there you were. Openly saying you felt you owed it to regular moms to take your time getting back into shape after the birth of your son. I can't possibly express in writing the impact that your open defiance of your own industry's beauty standards has had on me.

I remember reading in US Weekly that you said, "I think if you ask any pregnant mom, they're like 'I want my body back,' but it takes time. It takes nine months for your body to get that way and it's putting on that weight on purpose."

YES! It does take nine months to put the weight on and we gain the weight for a reason -- to bring a new life into the world. But the media don't want us to acknowledge this. They want us to pop out our children and be skinny the next day and if that doesn't happen, well, we're totally worthless.

I know that making the decision to be easy with yourself, to workout normally and lose the weight over time came with a price. I saw the headlines criticizing your weight -- saying you weren't losing the baby weight fast enough. I saw the photos the paparazzi snapped of you leaving yoga class and the way the media twisted those photos into something negative. But you continued on, seeming to not let the media's obsession with your weight impact your desire to be a positive role model for other new moms. And that's where our bond comes in.

I know firsthand how hard it is to show the world your post-baby body and open yourself up to criticism. You see, a few months ago I got together with six of my girlfriends and did something a little crazy. I took my clothes off and bared my post-baby belly (OK that's a lie, I kept my bra and yoga pants on, you know, for modesty). As the heaviest of my friends, I knew that I was going to face a lot of criticism. I went back and forth in my head about whether to show up at the photo shoot or just fake being sick. I knew that people would call me fat, mock my body and make all sorts of mean-spirited assumptions about me solely based on my weight.

But I also knew that I HAD to do it because other women, other moms, want to see more realistic representations of women -- no, they NEED to see them. Seeing celeb after celeb having a child and then popping back into fighting shape after a short period of time sets such a ridiculously high standard for the rest of us. A standard that we can't attain and quite frankly, one that is really meant to keep women down. To keep us obsessing over our bodies, leaving us without enough mental space to really harness our power -- but that's a letter for another time.

Baring my post-baby body was one of the best things I've done. While I received a lot of negative comments that caused me to shed more than a few tears, I also received an overwhelmingly positive response from moms that could relate to me. That made it all worth it; knowing that I impacted at least one person and made her feel better in her own skin.

That's why I'm writing you this letter. I want you to know that I saw what you did for us and I appreciate it. There are so many women that want society to change and to be more accepting of different body types and I know we are on our way. And you, Hil, deserve some credit. Thank you for your bravery, it did not go unnoticed.

XOXO

-Michelle

(p.s. that lovely photo was snapped by iViewPhotography -- text added by me)

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