In September 2004, New York Magazine published a piece on the “perfect pregnancy.” They cited a Johns Hopkins study revealing that 21% of the women in the study engaged in “weight-restrictive behavior” during their pregnancy and fasted before doctors visits in order to weigh less at the time of their exam.
Just a note about those women suffering from eating disorders: conversely, these women tend to control their eating disordered symptoms during pregnancy, as their focus becomes more on the baby and away from themselves. In fact, oftentimes, women who suffer from eating disorders are more able to resist their eating disordered behaviors for the sake of the baby.
Recently there seems to be more and more discussion about “mommyrexia” being a new trend in pregnancy. I’ve heard about it from lots of people, on the internet, in magazines and on the news. It seems what Johns Hopkins revealed in their study has dramatically increased. While I have not heard statistics to back it up, what I have seen are magazine covers and articles splashed with photos of very thin celebrities who maintain most of their shape throughout their pregnancy (other than the baby bump) and then, seemingly overnight, make dramatic changes washing away any evidence that they even went through a pregnancy. I’ve heard about pregnancy exercise boot camps, and I’ve heard great fear from many women about gaining pregnancy weight and a lot of pre-planning on how to lose it quickly after giving birth.
There’s something very wrong when we begin to view the beauty and magnificence of pregnancy as something to be controlled and manipulated. In addition to the physical detriment this imposes on both the mother and the baby, this type of societal expectation and personal pressure cuts self-esteem at the knees. It riddles an otherwise beautiful experience with anxieties and fears about not doing pregnancy “right.” Why are we celebrating women who barely look pregnant? What do you think about all of this?