What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I don’t like to blame stuff on the collective media, because the idea that there is some sort of collusion across different forms of media and entertainment seems kind of silly. It’s not like there’s a big media war room where news anchors and newspaper editors and bloggers the world over converge and decide how an issue is going to be perceived or how a story is going to be told. But I believe in the zeitgeist and that once a story is told one way, it gets retold a billion times in a similar way, sort of like a game of news-story-telephone. But damn if it doesn’t seem like there’s an internet conspiracy when it comes to Jessica Simpson’s weight.
I imagine some sort of media Batcave, where like, all these blogs and tabloids and morning talk show hosts meet to discuss how they will frame the Jessica Simpson “problem.” Specifically, her weight, and even more specifically, the fact that she has apparently not upheld her Celebrity Contract* -- you know, the one she signed with all of Hollywood and the public back when she was a virginal teen pop singer with a smokin’ bod and a questionable grasp on the specifics of canned tuna.
Because it seems like every day I read something about Jessica Simpson’s weight and how she’s not losing it and not bouncing back within days of giving childbirth, as many celebrity moms do these days. Jezebel posted this extensive list of headlines about Jessica Simpson and her body. The list is a little disturbing, in that I find it hard to believe that anyone really cares that much about Jessica’s Simpson’s post-pregnancy body. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time being outraged at people for not losing weight fast enough.
I mean, we, as “real-life” people, know that women do not generally lose all of their pregnancy weight within weeks of giving birth, right? We recognize that celebrities who do lose all that weight quickly probably are perfectly symmetrical humans who are genetically predisposed to this anyway, and also they have nannies and cooks and housekeepers and an army of trainers and a nutritionist and maybe a plastic surgeon to help things along. Some new celebrity moms are spending like, five hours a day working out and eating next to nothing while the nanny watches the baby. Most of us do not have these things at our disposal.
And you know, Jessica Simpson probably does have these things at her disposal. But who fucking cares. Maybe she’s sitting around, snuggling her baby and watching reruns of “Breaking Amish.” Maybe she is working out three hours a day with a trainer and consuming only celery sticks and hot tea, but hey, not everyone loses weight super fast. Maybe she doesn’t give a shit but decided $4 million from Weight Watchers was too good to pass up. Hell, I would sell a body part for $4 million. But Jessica Simpson’s weight, her motivations for losing weight, and why she is or isn’t losing weight, is none of our goddamn business.
So can we get off Jessica Simpson’s dick already? By “we” of course, I mean the media collective that plans these things in the Batcave.
I don’t want to play the “poor celebrity” card, because yes, famous people generally do know what they’re signing up for. And trust me, no one in showbiz (I say that with jazz hands) ever became famous by accident -- don’t believe those stories you hear about actors just randomly being discovered at the mall or whatever, because that’s not usually how it works. It takes a lot of knowing the right people and working at it and a shit-ton of networking and hustling your balls off.
So the famous of the world do understand that they are going to be photographed and talked about and whatnot. What I feel bad about is this perception that somehow famous people aren’t real, that they don’t have feelings or human failings like the rest of us. They do have feelings, they have private lives (which, yes, they should get to have), and when they have babies, sometimes their bodies do not behave the way they would like. JUST LIKE REAL PEOPLE, YOU GUYS.
Here’s what happened to me when I got pregnant: I gained 60 pounds, much more than the “recommended” weight gain for knocked-up ladies. My doctor, at one point, actually said, “lay off the cookies.” I regret nothing. Within a week of Oliver’s birth, I had lost almost 30 pounds. Eight pounds, six ounces of baby and the rest placenta and amniotic fluid and blood and water weight (and if we’re being totally honest, probably also poop, because I was so constipated that last two weeks I was pregnant). I lost another 25 pounds or so over the next four months, through a combination of breastfeeding and pushing the stroller around the neighborhood.
I decided to focus on my baby and let my body do whatever it wanted to do, and that’s just what it did. But this is not every woman’s story. I have friends who started working out the moment they were able to do so. We are all different, even Jessica Simpson. To expect that she must somehow a) not gain much weight during pregnancy and b) lose all the weight quickly is to expect that ALL women are capable of this. Every body is different, even celebrity bodies.
When we attack a celebrity mom, like Jessica Simpson or Bryce Dallas Howard, for being human, we are attacking all women. We are saying “how dare you not live up to the standards society has dictated for you.” Some women give birth and within weeks it looks like they were never pregnant. For some women, it can take years to lose the baby weight. And some women never lose it. These things are all normal, and no one should be made to feel as if her body, which has just performed the amazing magic trick of creating and sustaining life, is somehow wrong. Even the famous people in Hollywoodland.
*I made that up. There’s no Celebrity Contract, you guys
Follow me on Twitter, where I don't talk about celebrities' bodies, @somersherwood