Fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen posts a selfie 4 days after giving birth, showing off her washboard abs, and gets a flurry of internet hate:
“This is not a selfie. This is an act of war,” said Mama Mia blogger Rebecca Sparrow.
MEANWHILE…”Real” women are photographed after giving birth and they are called beautiful and brave.
These images were photographed by Ashlee Wells Jackson for her 4th Trimester Bodies Project, a series of photos meant to celebrate “real women’s” post-pregnancy bodies.
Jackson said she finds “such beauty in the women who have had normal, healthy, happy pregnancies and birth experiences.” But what happens when one woman’s normal, healthy and happy looks thinner than what we’re used to seeing a post-baby body look like? Clearly, a lot of hate.
I did a little research on Ms. Eriksen to see if the post-pregnancy photo was legit. Was she ever actually pregnant or did she have a surrogate? Did she get a tummy tuck to look like that post-baby? Was her baby born prematurely or underweight because she didn’t gain enough weight during her pregnancy in an effort to prevent losing her pre-baby body? What was her motive in posting this pic of herself? Was it to shame other women for not looking like her, a la Maria Kang? Is she a bad mother because she spends a portion of her day maintaining her body instead of being with her baby?
These were all criticisms thrown at her, so I thought I would see if there’s legitimacy to them.
I checked out her blog FotballFrue.no to see what she was about, and although I personally found it a little pretentious and too cookie-cutter for my taste, I couldn’t find one shred of evidence that this woman warranted any of the hate thrown her way after posting that selfie.
First off, Eriksen was already super fit and very thin when she got pregnant:
If this is her body’s happy weight and she’s not malnourished then great. I would argue that it’s hard to work out every day and stay strong if you’re starving yourself, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she’s a healthy woman who keeps herself fit through regular exercise and clean eating.
As for the accusation that her body came at the expense of her baby, reports said she gained a healthy 22 lbs during her pregnancy and delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl.
Finally, tight abs do not a bad mother make, and we should know better than to equate neglecting our health with being a good mother. That mentality is over now.
So what’s the problem? Do we react positively only when we see someone displaying and celebrating the same flaws we have? As soon as we see a woman we can’t relate to we must put her down? That sounds like a bunch of jealousy and insecurity to me. I hate thinspo culture as much as anyone, but although Eriksen is very thin, I won’t jump to the conclusion that she looks that way because she is trying to perpetuate unhealthy standards of beauty.
Eriksen said that she posted the selfie in order to prove wrong the people who told her her body would never be the same after birth. I can only imagine how happy she must be not only to be a first-time mother, but to also look in the mirror and see herself as she remembers herself pre-pregnancy. Let’s be real, any other woman who looked like that ever would be willing to take a few selfies, much less one who looked like that after giving birth. So good on her! Having a baby is stressful enough. Add to that looking in the mirror and not recognizing your own body and no wonder post-partum depression is alive and well. If one woman can avoid that “ugh what happened to my body?” feeling, let’s celebrate her fortune and, if anything, be inspired.
Of course, many women make the argument that Eriksen is a very privileged wife of a pro soccer player (Lars Kristian-Eriksen), so she has the luxury of time and money that enabled her to work out every day, which makes her not “real.” Because “real” is what the majority is. Eriksen’s body after giving birth is by no means the norm, nor is anyone, including her, saying it should be. However, I would say that if you want to be fit and your body is able to exercise throughout your pregnancy, then you’ll be fit if you choose to be. For the “real” women out there who don’t have much time and/or money, the running trail at the park is free and 30 minutes a day is all it takes to stay fit. Maybe not Caroline Berg Eriksen-fit, but fit nonetheless. If, however, you have a complicated pregnancy that prevents you from maintaining a solid workout regimen and your body shows it after giving birth, that’s okay too. The problem occurs when there is shaming on either side. Shaming is not okay.
In the end, every woman, no matter how she looks post-pregnancy, should be treated with love and respect, so let’s celebrate each other’s success and support the new moms of the world no matter what they look like.
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