Has the 'Perfect Mom Body' Changed Over Time?

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We can all agree that the basic shape of the "ideal" female body has changed over time. Flat-chested and skinny flappers gave way to curvier ideals, and Marilyn Monroe with her voluptuous curves gave way to heroin chic, and now a gym toned muscular form that is half Marilyn and half Linda Hamilton circa Terminator. This was all summed up nicely in a Boston Globe article this week.

No one wants to look like Marilyn Monroe anymore, says Jean Fain, a psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Compassion Diet." And they haven’t for a long time. Standards have changed, and they’re always going to be changing because no one wants to look like the aging cultural ideal. They want to look like the young ones, and the young ones are slimmer and more muscled than Marilyn was.

But what about moms' bodies? Have our ideals changed over time, too?

I wasn't alive in the 1950s, '60s, or '70s, but it does seem to me that back then, women had a bit more physical leeway. They were not expected to look like Halle Berry 20 minutes after pushing their baby out. Yes, there were pressures then, too (remember girdles?), but it seems like now, the pressure to be "hot" is never ending and extends long past girlhood.

The "moms" who are celebrated look like Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie and Jenny McCarthy -- hard-bodied, large breasted, well-toned, and perfect, almost air brushed beyond their maternal "flaws."

I can't sit here and say I'm not guilty of it, and I won't lie and say my baby stretched tummy doesn't give me agita much of the time. I miss my old hard body a lot, but this idea that a body can be in "fashion" just seems wrong.

There is not all that much we can do to control our bodies. Sure, we can avoid being too far on either end of the weight spectrum, but a woman at a "healthy" weight for her height can span more than 20 pounds. And even then, there is no way to know where fat will congregate. I have seen women who weigh less than me wear a bigger size and women who weigh more wear a smaller one. All bodies are different.

In the flapper era, when flat was in, what is a woman with 34Ds supposed to do? Bind them? Some did, I realize, but enough is enough. Some moms are going to "bounce back," some are not. But we need to be able to make room for all kinds of bodies.

If we can't do it in pop culture, then we ought to at least try to do so in our own minds. You may never get the abs you envision, so set goals that make sense for you. Not all moms can look like Halle Berry and most of the people who do have surgery to get there.

Do you think there is an "in" body for moms?

 

Image via rockwilder/Flickr

celeb style, body, beauty

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Katie Sasso

I don't know. Just because it didn't used to be so much pressure for pregnant women doesn't mean those new mom's in the 50's didn't miss their old bodies. I used to have the flattest belly in the world and letting go of that and the idea that even with a muffin top my guy could still find me attractive has been an issue in the past year. We have to learn to love our bodies and realize our stretch marks, spare tires, bigger pant sizes are our battle scars. We went to war to bear and birth our children and if we can't even get rid of those things we should be proud of these scars on our bodies!

Christeen Conrad

This may sound rude but the 'in' body for moms seems to be morbidly obese. My SIL has 6 kids and looks like she hasn't had one. This post seems condescending towards women who DO not want to be overweight simply because they had kids. It's not an excuse to me.


I've recently decided not to be one of those 'moms' who are fat and use my kid as an excuse. She's 3 and is no longer my excuse. My poor choices and eating habbits is the problem and I know it.  I'm not seeing why you need to rail on Halle Berry or anyone who went back to their pre-baby body. Because I am a mom does not mean I have to be overweight.

Katie Sasso

I don't think she's "railing" on anyone. Just pointing out that for most people you never get that flat belly back. I am by no means "fat" or "morbidly obese" and never intend to be but I also realize that it's not likely I will ever fit into my size 2's again. 

sherl... sherlokke

agreed on the i-just-had-a-baby-so-i'm-always-gonna-be-this-size-or-bigger crap. take CARE or yourself and your kids. learn how to COOK.

joyma... joymama123

From this post: "Not all moms can look like Halle Berry and most of the people who do have surgery to get there."


What an ignorant statement. I can assure you that MOST of the moms who look really great (like Halle Berry) after kids have NOT had surgery. They have worked hard and not allowed themself excuses and laziness. Christeen and sherlokke - ABSOLUTELY. Good for you! In fact, I personally know 3 women who did get tummy tucks after their children and b/c they don't work hard to be fit you would never assume they had any surgery - what a waste of money. The tummy tuck doesn't take away the big butt, cellulite dimpled thighs and flabby arms. Just eat healthier (and less) and work out. Quit the excuses. 


nonmember avatar Alice

with all due respect but since we are talking about Halle Berry it is important to remind everyone that Halle Berry has type 2 diabetes so she has to workout and eat healthy and she doesn't have " large breast" but she is toned indeed.It is well documented that Jenny McCarty has her chest done and Angelina Jolie had her nose done
Type Halle Berry and diabetes http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-371528/Halle-Berry-My-battle-diabetes.html and read about Berry's longtime trainers Harley Pasternak http://news.instyle.com/2011/01/18/halle-berry-body-fitness-tips/ and http://www.hotcelebrityworkout.com/halle-berrys-diet-and-workout-program/

lovin... loving_my_hero

Thank you for this post! I'm not over weight by any means, but I'll never have the body I had before my daughter was born, which is both good and bad. I was actually larger, although still physically fit, before she was born. After she was born I went down to a size 2. I am now in a size 4 because stress of the past year has taken its toll on my metabolism (has nothing to do with diet or excercise change) but this size actually looks better on me and doesn't leave me looking emaciated. However, I will always have the stretch marks, and the extra skin won't go away without surgery. The author isn't saying we should make excuses, just that we shouldn't be hard on ourselves. You should always make an effort to be as healthy as possible, but you don't have to be tiny or ripped to be considered healthy. Some moms would rather spend extra quality time with their children than hide away at the gym.

Megara Megara

"There is not all that much we can do to control our bodies. Sure, we can avoid being too far on either end of the weight spectrum, but a woman at a "healthy" weight for her height can span more than 20 pounds. And even then, there is no way to know where fat will congregate. I have seen women who weigh less than me wear a bigger size and women who weigh more wear a smaller one. All bodies are different."


So very true.  Before children, I had a friend who was exactly my height, and we wore the same bra size, same clothes size, and same shoe size.  I weighed 25 lbs more than she did.  Now post-2 babies my belly looks like a deflated beach ball and I am coming to terms with the fact that I will never wear my pre-baby ultra-low rise jeans again.  Unless I have surgery.  Yes, I am overweight, and actually according to my BMI I'm obese.  But I wear a size 12-14, and while I am not happy with the size I am right now, I would never call another woman in size 12 jeans obese.  Does this mean I don't take care of myself?  Or that I'm lazy?  Or making excuses?  I don't "want to be overweight just because I had kids."  But I don't need a flat stomach to make me happy, I have 2 kids with gorgeous smiles instead.

sherl... sherlokke

i gained about 60 lbs having my healthy twins and i have to try to keep weight ON, currently measuring 34-28-38. i cook and eat whatever, whenever, and i've never had to come to terms with my size; *i* decide.

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