Kim Kardashian tweeted the ultimate selfie lately, designed to induce “mom-envy” everywhere.
The post-baby body pic is a rite of passage for celebrities who want to tell the world they're back in business. Gisele … Jessica Alba …. photos of fit and gorgeous new moms just a few months post-partum seem to be the new norm.
“The fact is, when you're surrounded by that kind of imagery, it actually does affect how we feel about our body image,” said Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. “We can't meet it.”
And recently, it’s imagery overload -- Duchess Kate looking impossibly svelte just 3 months after producing a royal heir; and new mom Kim Kardashian showing it all off on Instagram.
Social media responded swiftly to Kardashian with posts such as “You're a mom, don't forget, have some respect for being a mommy” and “As long as you’re happy! It's your life, not ours.”
But perhaps the biggest reaction online was saved for Maria Kang, a former Miss Bikini of California, posting a photo of her three children and boldly asking “What's your excuse?” Kang is a working mom and says she finds time to exercise five or six days a week, often with a group of Sacramento, Calif., moms.
Kang is making no apologies: “I didn't call you fat. I didn't call you lazy. I didn't say that I'm all this and you should look like me.”
“New moms barely have time for a long shower or a hot bath, so the idea of finding the time to work out every day is nearly impossible, so a lot of people are insulted by this,” said Ericka Souter, editor at theStir.com.
Workout guru Tracy Anderson has built a whole empire around keeping celebrity moms fit, both during and after pregnancy. She trains Hollywood A-listers and even went into business with her client and friend Gwyneth Paltrow. But for most moms, looking like Paltrow is impossible.
“I really do believe that every single one of us is really beautiful, and especially we're beautiful when we're working to connect to our body, when we're working to be our personal best,” said Anderson. “I think that's beautiful. As soon as your doctor releases you to work out, you have to start reconnecting to your body.”
Among Anderson's celebrity clients? None other than Kim Kardashian, who was skewered in the tabloids for gaining weight during her pregnancy. But Anderson has clearly worked her magic on the new mom. Is it good for the rest of us?
“I think women actually feel like they fall short,” said Diller. “They feel like they haven't done it the right way or enough, and that's problematic. Celebrities, unlike most of us, have armies of people to help them get their post-baby bod. I have patients in my practice who are celebrities, and that is their work. They spend 4 to 5 hours in the gym every day, three to four times a week. That is what they do.
“But at the same time, I have everyday women who have full-time jobs, who maybe have a baby at home,” continued Diller. “They have to rush home after work. They'd much prefer to spend time with their children than at the gym, and they're gonna take a little longer.”