Megan Fox’s first baby was born in September 2012, just like Baby A. There’s not much else I have in common with the Transformers actress, not even considering the fact that she’ll next be seen as the reporter April O’Neil in the forthcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie; my days of breaking news and cutting-edge journalism, or at least honest attempts at both, are long behind me.
But I get a sick, perverse pleasure in keeping track of the celebrities who gave birth in September last year and bounced back in no time, compared with the maternity jeans I still keep on hand. In addition to Fox, Reese Witherspoon had a baby in September last year, as did Drew Barrymore, Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy fame, the Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima and the True Blood star Anna Paquin, who had twins. Every few weeks, I fervently Google pictures of these women and wallow in self-pity when the resulting images are of fit, healthy, beautiful (maybe Photoshopped) and, most importantly, slender ladies with perfect skin, shiny locks, perky smiles and professionally coordinated outfits. Never mind that a box of cookies and a sugary drink are always on hand when these Googling sessions occur; that doesn’t stop me from feeling sorry for little old me, irrational as that may seem considering the zero effort I have put into taking care of myself.
Oh, I have a long list of excuses, don’t get me wrong. Nursing, I have found, does not burn the alleged 500 calories a day it’s meant to burn. Not for me, anyway.
And who has time to care for skin or brush hair or mix and match from an ignored wardrobe when sleepless nights spent rocking a baby result in days of fatigue and disorientation? Forget going to the gym; any spare moment must either be spent cuddling baby, or complaining about how there’s never any time for myself any more and certainly no time – or energy – to get on a treadmill.
So instead, I Google celebrities and stalk them on Instagram, and flip through glossy magazines that feature pictures of Beyoncé, Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian post-baby.
And instead of those images motivating me, instead of going a little easier on myself and reminding myself that Photoshop may have been used to correct a curve here or smooth a wrinkle there, instead of acknowledging that these lady celebrities have the money and time and facilities to most likely engage a full-time personal trainer and even a personal chef specialising in no-carb dishes – instead of all that, I wallow. And I hate myself a little more because despite every vow to myself, I am subjecting my daughter to growing up in an atmosphere of dieting and weight gain and weight loss and weight obsession, when what I want more than anything in the world is to instil in her healthy habits and a positive body image, without all the baggage, heartache and self-doubt that comes with being a woman obsessed with the number on the scale and the reflection in the mirror.
I’ve recently bought some new ink for our printer at home. Those images I’ve been Googling are going up on our much-loved fridge. Might as well put these celebrities to good use and get these new mums to motivate me out of this rut I’ve burrowed into. I’ll keep you posted.
Hala Khalaf is a freelance writer living in Abu Dhabi