21 May 2008

Gwyneth Paltrow: happy to erase all traces of motherhood

In a new interview with V magazine, Gwyn Paltrow describes how much she hated her post-pregnant body. After gaining 3 stone with Moses, she says:

"I didn't mind the big boobs. But I hated the stomach roll, the back fat and the post-pregnant butt. And it was so hard to get rid of. Especially the final 20lb."

I find this sort of commentary really confronting. Sure, I love the fact that Gwyn is being honest but I'm really getting sick of this complete disavowal of the post-baby body in the media. That somehow the photos above represent Gwyneth Paltrow better or are 'more beautiful' than the person she was immediately after having her babies. I'm troubled by the implication that the body in those photos is different to the body she had when she was pregnant or post-pregnancy.

What I find really interesting (and this is something I'm trying to sort out in my PhD work at the moment) is that there is this perception that the bodies that you have before, during and after pregnancy are actually different when in fact, it is the same body in different forms. What I mean is that surely Gwyn looks all raunchy and emo in the magazine cover shots but the truth is that is exactly the same body that she had just a few years ago, fat rolls and all, in a different form. You cannot get rid of fatness; it's always inside our bodies whether it is visible on the surface or not. The very ambiguity of fat (not a liquid that seeps, not inside or outside the body) means that it cannot be expelled physically or psychologically. It is through specific interactions and locations and in specific contexts that fatness becomes real for women and pregnancy is one such time. The constant emphasis on fatness and thinness, and more prominently the praise given to celebs who shed baby weight quickly is symptomatic of a culture that continually forces us to believe that fat is something that we can get rid of entirely. The truth is that for most women, there is no such thing as an 'ideal weight' because even when they reach their 'ideal' it is never enough. The fat is always there and to maintain anything resembling 'ideal' requires that women constantly monitor their diets and their bodies in order to stave off visible fat a little longer. In this way, fat never leaves. It is always in our bodies, constantly threatening to creep to the surface and Gwyn's 'hot mamma' post-baby photos are deceiving for exactly this reason. Paltrow knows that she will always have to maintain a specific diet and exercise regimen in order to keep her fat at bay.

I've spent the last three weeks thinking about fatness exclusively...can you tell? And by the way, apologies for the recent spate of short posts. My dissertation is due...very, very frighteningly soon.....

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1020274/Gwyneth-Paltrow-reveals-I-vices-poses-sexy-basque.html


Julia said...

Meredith -- Good luck as you finish your dissertation! I wrote the bulk of mine while pregnant. Gave birth just 2 months ago and I'm set to defend in a few weeks. :)

When you have the time, I'd like to get your thoughts on the strangest quote from the Paltrow interview: "I had milk dripping out of my boobs - it seemed like a fairytale."

What on earth does that mean?

Cherryskin said...

And I used to admire her because of her apparent dedication to motherhood/her kids -- I assumed she was okay about all it entails, but evidently not. Okay, you can't judge a person by an interview, but I am judging the "public Gwyneth".

I was talking recently to a friend who told me her ob (who is a very popular ob in the wealthy eastern suburbs) told her some of his clients go and sit in saunas while pregnant, to lose weight. Mind-boggling.

Creative Commons License
The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.