If you’re a schoolyard bully, you can’t possibly think you’ll get any sympathy from the playgroundfolk the day some other kid calls you a really, really mean name and makes you cry. Likewise, if you’re the former editor of Us Weekly, you don’t get to invent the sport of celebrity baby-bump watching and then publicly complain about the unrealistic pressure you feel to bounce back to your pre-pregnancy body.
But Janice Min took a stab at it in The New York Times this past weekend, with a piece titled: Can a Mom Get a Break? It’s a question a lot of moms could have asked Min while she was at the helm of the celebrity glossy from 2003 to 2009. But Min now bemoans the very post-baby body obsession she perpetuated and profited from – all while kind of blind to her own hypocrisy:
…I pushed out a 6-pound-10-ounce baby girl nearly four months ago. And I’m 42 to boot. Can’t I get a free pass?
I know, you guys. Here’s more:
There, in the stacks of periodicals at the nail salon, these genetic aberrations smile at us from celebrity magazines, or from our computer screens, wearing bikinis on the beach in Cabo weeks after Caesarean sections, or going straight from recovery room to Victoria’s Secret runway. Shortly before Mother’s Day this year, People magazine anointed Beyoncé as “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” with a cover line “Back After Baby!”
You see, in today’s celebrity narrative, just two kinds of desirable maternal female physiques exist: the adorable gestating one (with bellies called “bumps”) and its follow-up, the body that boomerangs back from birth possibly even better than before. Me? I’m currently stranded on an island like the one on “Lost,” only this one is inhabited exclusively by still-pudgy moms struggling to find their way back.
It’s not that I don’t agree Min raises a host of valid concerns. She absolutely does. On top of the already steaming pile of body and beauty and Have-it-All pressures, now the glossies have decreed that women must also worry about becoming “Momshells” and slink back into skinny jeans weeks after giving birth? (Answer: Of course you don’t! You just made a brand new person! You earned a few months in those elastic-waisted pants.)
But what irks me about Min’s piece (aside from the lede, in which she semi-offensively quotes her manicurist’s broken English) is that she gives only a passing admission to her own complicity in the culture she rails against now. Ready? Because if you blink, you might miss it:
I am partly to blame for my own physical netherworld.
That was pretty much it. There was no mea culpa. No wayward magazine editor come home. No commitment to right past wrongs and shepherd a new era. No solutions. Instead, we got a plug for her book (called How to Look Hot in a Minivan – no, seriously) and this tepid sentiment:
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.
Maybe we can start by not putting those Frankenmoms on magazine covers in the first place? But I dunno. I’m just spitballing it here.