You’ll all have heard far too much about the British Royal Baby over the last week, so I’ll keep this brief (promise):
1 – Congratulations Kate and Wills!
2 – Congratulations to ALL NEW MAMAS AND PAPAS OUT THERE and thank you for bringing a deep smile onto my face seeing the joy and love you have for your children.
Over the last 3 months, 4 friends who are a similar age to me have all had babies, so I’m literally up to my eyeballs in baby-flooding (in a good way, I quickly add!) – and it makes me really happy to see your happiness.
Finally, on the topic of babies – HELL NO I’M NOT READY TO DO THE SAME YET! I only got my full motorbiking licence last year, I’m not about to give up that hard-earned freedom yet!
Right, onto the topic I really wanted to discuss today:
The media, beauty and food industries urgently need to stop piling pressure on new mums to “regain their pre-pregnancy figures”.
The latest target – Kate Middleton. It’s less than a week since she’s given birth and OK! Magazine in the UK has already published a full front-page spread with articles about how allegedly “she’ll regain her figure in no time, and *here’s how you can do the same*”. Clearly this article has been drafted in the time before the baby was born, otherwise there’s no way it could’ve gone through the printers and been distributed so rapidly, being possibly the first magazine to cash-in on the two big headlines of 1 – the Royal Baby, and 2 – preying on women’s insecurities about their bodies.
Now, I could go on a full rant about how disgusting it is to prey on Kate and to shame all new mothers about their bodies when they’ve just gone through one of the biggest ordeals their bodies will ever have to go through.
But you know this already, and it’s been lamblasted over and over again, both as rants and as heartfelt pleas.
I could howl about how unfeminist it is for women to be objectified against their will and pressured into the “perfect mould”.
But you know this too.
Instead, I wanna ask you these two questions:
WHY? And WHO WINS?
Ask yourself: why does the media do this?
Short answer: always the m$n£y.
Long-answer: It’s money, because it’s the never-ending abusive cycle of first, making women feel ashamed and tear us apart until we’re reduced to nothing, then proclaiming that “they have the answer” as long as you buy and read their books and magazines, watch their TV shows, buy the products sold by the companies who paid massive advertising fees to those magazines and TV shows, “and it’ll all be better”. Except that those “cures” often don’t work: bottom end magazines tell you that it’s your fault, you didn’t follow the instructions properly, so *here’s the next thing to try*; top end magazines tell you that it wasn’t your fault, it was the products themselves, but *here is the next thing that really will work this time* ad infinitum et nauseum.
Not you. Not your nearest and dearest or closest and most-est.
Only the people, companies and media that made you feel ashamed in the first place.
So, what can you do about it?
First – be aware of what is being said to you and your reaction to it. I’m not infallible to this stuff by any means – recently there was a campaign for hair-removal cream in a newspaper that said, “Are you a CACTUS?!” with a computer-generated image of bristly hair, and the hot-wash of shame flooded over me, reminding me of the fact that I have very dark hair on very pale skin, and am still occasionally nicknamed “wolf-child” for it. And then the hot-wash of fury crashed over me when I realised I’d fallen for a belittling ad campaign – seriously, I was practically foaming at the mouth with anger.
Bottom line – if you are aware of what goes on and your own reactions, you’re much more likely to be in control of what you can do about it. And it’s definitely much easier said than done.
Second – vote with your money. Only buy the things that you want to have sticking around in this world. Since getting your money is their ultimate goal, don’t buy it, or the magazines that are supporting those products (unless there are other things about the magazine you actually like, in which case, just don’t buy the products you don’t actually want, simples).
Thirdly – especially if you are a new mum – have compassion for yourself and what you’ve been through to get to where you are now, and that there are more people on your side than you’d otherwise be led to think. Wander over to my friends, people like the refreshing Jenny at F*ck the Diets, the lovely Lotte at Good Sense of Houmous, and the amazing team at Beyond Chocolate.
Last question: what the hell does any of this have to do with cooking?
I think it influences the choices you make and whether you do it whole-heartedly and joyfully, or you just go through the motions and don’t taste anything, or smell anything, or see the wonderful transformation of food as it goes from fridge to fork, or hear the crunch or smoosh of vegetables and sauces respectively, or feel the textures of the foods you’re handling either with your hands or through your wooden spoon.
I think it influences how much you actually take care of yourself as well as how much you can give back to the people you love.
I think that all of this is probably one of the most difficult things to do.
But, for what it’s worth, know that I’m with you, and that you deserve to make your choices from worth, confidence and compassion, and not because of shame, bullying and greed.