FWP: Post‑Baby Body Image Blues
PROBLEM: Dear Swaddle ladies: I have a good friend who just had a second child a few months ago. She’s struggling with some post-baby weight and body image issues (I’ve been there myself), but is eager to get back to wearing what she used to. What’s the fine line between being a supportive friend who thinks she looks great in anything and should take her time losing the weight, and the friend who doesn’t let her out of the house without telling her her clothes are really unflattering to her current body?
KB: Mouth. Shut. Seriously. Do not go there. It’s better to let her wander the streets in slightly tight clothing rather than risk further upsetting someone who’s already feeling not great about herself. In a few years, after the craziness of multiple children, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, juggling everything under the sun all passes… then, maybe, just maybe, find a delicate way to help her get to the gym. I do NOT suggest telling her to buy a set of fat clothes, especially not now. You’ll be banished for life.
LG: Look, all rules have gray areas, and I feel like the post-baby-period is the major, neon-lit caveat for ‘friends don’t let friends go out of the house wearing XYZ.’ As you’ve said yourself — you think she looks great in anything and should take her time with her weight. The unconditional support and rose-coloured glasses of friends and family is probably what she needs most for her body image right now; if she’s got that, she can say, “Who cares?” to any haters who comment on the combination of her clothes and post-baby physique. And when she does, you know what? She’ll be right. She’s got a lot more to offer the world than a just-right wardrobe. Let her do her.
MM: Gotta agree with KB on being banished for life even if you’ve got ‘good intentions’. Post baby or otherwise, most women get enough body shaming thrown at them in subtle and not-so-subtle forms everyday. Girlfriends are meant to be the antidote to all that. Say nothing about her weight and her clothes, and continue to remind her that she’s an awesome human – she needs you to do that now more than ever.
RT: When it comes to body image and weighing in on someone’s weight, the only type of friend you need to be is a supportive one. Nothing good can come from constructive criticism of someone’s self identity or sense of style pre or post baby. Maybe take a lesson from the Sex and the City ladies who stand up for Miranda against body shamers to proclaim: “She just had a baby, a-hole. What’s your excuse?”
SB: I think we are pretty unanimous on this one, it’s a simple don’t. Also, take a minute to think about why it matters to you or anyone else what she looks like at all when she has been growing a human and keeping it alive. That’s like someone making a incredible discovery and people around them commenting on how overgrown their hair has gotten in the process, it’s beside the point. And really being a good friend means taking people just as they are.