Notting Hill Gate, Central Line, first set of escalators. Quietly sliding down, trying to manage a pram which is almost upside down while tightly squeezing a tiny human’s hand right next to it. Walls are free of ads, a rarity in this metropole’s underground mad concrete jungle and THE very reason for my 23 seconds of happiness each time I find myself here. Not because I’m against giant posters or fashion statements taking over London’s underworld, but because what’s underneath these jazzy clothes and foxy make-up ads is what, often unconsciously, makes ME uncomfortable and rather sad.
The skinny, the bold and the beautiful.
The head turner.
Sadness kicks in when my son’s almost 3 year old tiny brain is a sponge absorbing photoshop edits, unnatural poses and fake smiles – a lie marketing has to say in order to sell more to the masses. Sex sells. A whiter tooth sells. Skinny sells. Sad because quite often I find myself secretly desiring to be the one underneath the jazzy clothes and foxy make up instead of embracing a postpartum figure that needs THE EDITS to even come close…Because I mean it looks rather easier to walk around looking like them: the skinny, the bold, the beautiful, the head turner…The UN-REAL.
But the pressure women put on themselves after having their first child is simply surreal. Ask any of your mum friends: what shakes our confidence so much? What drives unspoken mental fears on how our body could change when the dreadful sugar high temptations and full fat, mouth-watering, unhealthy treats are available to us at every corner? How does this consumerism influence created by social media gets this giant force to get us out of balance? Why mothers have now to suffer more because of their body image?
I got pregnant and gave birth in my twenties, I followed blogs and magazines talking about slimming diets, working out ‘magic’ tricks and cooking trends that only added more pressure on my sleep-deprived self without even realising it, despite the fact that I wasn’t realistically looking into trying them all. Although I wasn’t the most loyal follower of Pinterest skinny salads, billions of hidden calories wrapped up in cool ‘raw vegan’, ‘low fat’ or ‘guilty free’ packaging products, perfectly photoshopped abs on women who happened to have also joined the motherhood ship made me feel more insecure than ever.
Yet as I recently entered my 30s (the wisest wake up call, thank God for making me see that the online pixel is often deceiving), I gave up chasing dippy ideals and understood motherhood is a battle as we’re all constantly striving for a balance we may never fully get to taste, a body we may never get to have (and that’s ok!) but wisely working it around changes, deadlines, moral duties and guilty feelings. Motherhood is trying. Motherhood is hoping. Giving a go to a buggy training in the park with other worried souls about their postpartum figures (then giving it up because you really hated it and hopefully not embarrassed at all to admit that rushing to the store for groceries is a far more enjoyable activity you rather take on from now on).
Motherhood is feeding ducks, not a yoga pose…
Motherhood is feeding ducks with your toddler in the park, not an Adho Mukha Shvanasana pose. Motherhood is having faith that picking up toddlers and carrying them across the street will kill off some calories without joining the fancy gym across the street just because they all seem to do it. Can you spot that muffin top below? Well, it’s mine and I’m not particularly proud of it. Let me be honest. I pretty much hate it. Yet I won’t let THE EDIT deceive me into desiring the fake six pack (now spot the difference in the profile photo?!).
No. Motherhood is not a six pack, nor a fluffy muffin top…
According to Dove research, 7 in 10 women and 6 in 10 girls in the UK think the media and advertisers set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.
In fact, 8 in 10 British women and girls wish the media did a better job of portraying females with a diverse physical appearance, age, race, shape and size.
For nearly 60 years, Dove has stood for Real Beauty. We think it’s time society ditched outdated ideals and celebrated real beauty, in all its forms.
The real touch.
I’ll soon be teaching my son NOT to hunt for a size 6, but get stalking on smiles that last, hugs that are almost as long and warm as mine, and real friendships founded on pizza nights in with his crush. Because most of us tend to believe happiness is a terminus, a destination with a pretty landscape view and with a flat stomach complimented by cool workout gear, a last stop we should try and get to on a faster pace through dieting and hiding the real us. This, we believe, is the very place that makes us feel untouchable, safe and less vulnerable to the outside ruthless vibes. But it’s not…
I created this post as a competition entry in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge.
Dove is supporting the launch of the Be Real Body Image Pledge on November 17th which is a commitment to helping women and young girls develop a positive relationship with the way they look. MY COMMITMENT is to raise a confident young man who doesn’t vouch for 90-60-90s or criticises the lack of perfect curves on your daughters…A young man who validates the real stuff, a man who does not believe the online pixel is what he should chase.
A young man who chooses to ignore the dangerous deceiving pixel.
No photoshop edits (oh, except for the fake six pack in the first photo) have been added to these photos my father (who owns 0 photography skills under his belt) almost voluntarily took although he never understood why I asked him to.
I hope you get this now, dad.
This article is for you and for all my childhood moments when you were telling me that I’m beautiful inside and out despite my teenage mad times when I almost hated the little body gift you and mum both created 😉