OPINION

Getting real about women’s bodies after childbirth is refreshing and necessary

Photo: Instagram.com/chrissyteigen

In the past week, both Chrissy Teigen and Beyoncé have spoken about their physical post-partum appearance. Finally, a bit of honesty, says Laura Craik

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By Laura Craik on

Some people are made for social media. Others should step away from their iPhones – or, better still, throw them in the sea. On social media, there’s no hiding from who you really are: try as you might to be hilarious, perfect or humble (if you feel humility is in this month), eventually, you’ll reveal your true self. No one can curate a manufactured image for a lifetime. It’s too exhausting. More pertinently, it takes more brains and finesse than most of us possess. The mask will slip: better not to wear one in the first place.

If there’s one woman who was made for social media, it’s Chrissy Teigen. Teigen is a model whose husband is the singer John Legend, though these details don’t matter: I literally didn’t have a scooby about her before I started following her on Twitter and Instagram, and only did so because other women told me she was funny. Which she is – naturally. Thanks to her consistent tone and unique turn of phrase, unlike some celebrities, you can tell she eschews all social-media managers. Teigen is one of life’s natural over-sharers. There’s a lot of them around. Unlike those who divulge the less-than-perfect details of their lives as a craven attempt to appear relatable (naming no names), Chrissy is the real deal. She’s been doing it forever, long before relatability became the new black.

While she is brilliantly outspoken about politics on Twitter, it’s her recent posts about her post-partum body – complete with videos – that have really captured fans’ hearts. “I guess these just aren’t gonna go away – this is my new body,” you hear her saying, as she films her stretch marks, livid red after the birth of her second baby, Miles. “Instagram is crazy!” she added in another caption. “I think it’s awesome people have killer bodies and are proud to show them off (I really do!) but I know how hard it can be to forget what (for lack of a better word) regular ol’ bodies look like when everyone looks bonkers amazing.”

In a world where women are increasingly held up against impossible ideals of perfection, anything that opens up an honest conversation about our bodies is to be commended

Whether they’ve recently had a baby or not, no doubt her 10.6 million Twitter followers (not forgetting the 19.5 million who follow her on Instagram, where, at the time of writing, she had just posted a Story about her love of blackhead extraction) will be heartened by Teigen’s honesty. In a world where women are increasingly held up against impossible ideals of perfection, anything that opens up an honest conversation about our bodies is to be commended – particularly where it concerns the post-partum mess that most new mothers find themselves in. “I don’t really call this ‘body confidence’ because I’m not quite there yet,” Chrissy tweets in another post. “I’m still super insecure. I’m just happy that I can make anyone else out there feel better about themselves.” The message being: look, even a model living the high life in LA who’s married to a platinum-selling pop star suffers from stretch marks and self-doubt. Oh, and post-natal depression, which Teigen has also been candid about having experienced after the birth of her first child.

It’s women like Teigen who paved the way for megastars like Beyoncé to share their true feelings about their post-baby bodies, too. In American Vogue’s new September issue – traditionally the biggest-selling Vogue of the year, and usually more focused on telling us which shoes to buy than on revealing the “flaws” of its cover star – Beyoncé speaks candidly about how she “embraced being curvier” after the birth of twins Rumi and Sir in 2017. “I accepted what my body wanted to be,” she shared. “I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. My kids and husband did, too. To this day, my arms, shoulders, breasts and thighs are fuller. I have a little mummy pouch, and I’m no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.”

Apart from blessing us with a shiny new acronym (FUPA! It even sounds like some cute little marsupial made of flesh and love! It certainly sounds nicer than what it stands for, AKA “fat upper pubic region”), in being honest about her feelings towards her body, Beyoncé has provided a welcome and powerful anecdote to the images of perfection with which we’re constantly bombarded. And isn’t ironic that, as glossy fashion magazines are becoming more relatable, social media – the medium with the most power to be “real” – is becoming ever more extreme in its quest to portray the “perfect” bod? Either way, if celebrities like Chrissy, Beyoncé and Serena Williams (who recently shared an Instagram post on the same topic) save even one new mum from feeling alone during post-natal depression, their openness will have been worth it. Beyoncé is right: perfection is the disease of a nation. In which case, honesty is the only cure.

@LauraCraik

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Photo: Instagram.com/chrissyteigen
Tagged in:
Chrissy Teigen
Body image
Beyonce
pregnancy

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