In my experience, when we become parents our own mothers do their best to be supportive. Some are successful, to be sure, but others don't have the most, um, tact. They want to help, of course, but they usually end up saying things that leave us scratching our heads. Take comments about your postpartum bod, for example. What's meant to be encouraging can end up being judgmental. Then there are the things your mom will say about your post-baby body when she's "just being honest" that are anything but helpful, constructive, or supportive. Mothers, right? Can't live with 'em, wouldn't have life without 'em.
Throughout my life my weight has been the central focus of numerous family discussions. You might say this is part of latinx culture — "flaca" and "gorda" (skinny and chubby) are both commonly used nicknames. Still, even though calling someone "chubby" isn't meant to be malicious, it can be damaging. Then, when I was postpartum, my family seemed to focus solely on how much weight I had (or had not) lost. Why not skip the sweets this time? Why not start walking more? It came from a good place, I suppose, but it was also irritating. I had limited mobility my first year postpartum thanks to severe tearing during childbirth. Plus, my traumas didn’t exactly put me in the best headspace for being motivated to work out. Comments about my post-baby body and how it was or wasn't living up to some fallacious standard of postpartum beauty was the last thing I needed to hear.
That said, none of it bothers me now. These days I’m putting more effort into my health and fitness (and not just looking to “lose the baby weight”), so I’m able to put those initial post-baby body remarks out of my mind. If you’re currently postpartum you might recognize some of the following statements. Know that you have my permission to ignore them, even and especially if they are coming from your own mother. You also have the right to let your mom know her unsolicited thoughts aren't appreciated in any capacity, so she can stop immediately. Most importantly, don't let the following comments get to you. You're beautiful, your body is incredible, and how you feel matters way more than how you look. Always.
"I Can’t Even Tell You Just Had A Baby"
This is the “let me fat shame you when you’re not actually fat just to remind you not to get fat” remark. As though we should all strive to not “appear” as though our body has done something as miraculous and difficult as have a baby. We deserve to look like we've done the impossible, because we have.
"You’ll Be Able To Lose The Weight In No Time "
Ah, the encouraging insult. This is when your mother doesn’t want to make you feel bad outright, she just wants to put enough pressure on you so you don’t “let yourself go.”
"At Least You Don’t Look Pregnant Anymore"
It can take weeks, months, even longer for some postpartum women to not “look” pregnant. This is especially true for those with diastasis recti. Our abs don’t like to cooperate postpartum, but for some reason our parents don’t always get that.
"Have You Considered Spanx?"
Look, there’s nothing wrong with wearing Spanx if that’s what you like and/or that's what makes you feel comfortable postpartum. But to expect others to do the same because you don’t happen to like their body? Not OK.
"Maybe You Should Wear A One-Piece Swimsuit Instead?"
Some folks can’t handle seeing stretch marks, or c-section scars, or a bit of belly jiggle. Sadly, this can include our own parents. It's not uncommon for someone's well-intentioned mother to find a "nice way" of saying "cover up." It's not nice, though. Social standards of beauty be damned. Plus, us postpartum women are grown-ass adults who just brought another human being into the world. We can wear whatever we damn well want to wear.
"I Bought You Some Stretch Mark Cream"
I got a few uncalled-for bottles of so-called "magical stretch mark-erasing cream" myself, usually followed by “reminders” to apply nightly. Yeah, I ignored the bottle of cream and those damn reminders. Why? Because I don’t think stretch marks are the downfall of society, nor do I think they're something I should actively try to hide or diminish.
"Did You See That Lady Who Got Back To Pre-Baby Weight In Six Months?"
Good for her! No, really! I think that's great, but, um, what does that have to do with me? Everyone’s body is built differently. We don’t all have the time (or drive) to work out multiple times a day. Not everyone wants to spend multiple hours a week at the gym. It’s OK to go hard on fitness if that's your thing, but it’s also OK to say, “You know what? I like my new body,” and be done with it.