Baby Weight Self-Flagellation

What Women Really Think
March 3 2010 12:43 PM

Baby Weight Self-Flagellation

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/03/03/the_pregnancy_excuse_evolved_because_women_feel_so_deprived/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Kim Brooks' piece at Salon praising the new emphasis on keeping pregnant women from getting fat-and lamenting her own pregnancy weight gain-left me sad. It was hard to put my finger on it. Was it that she called a size 10 "fat"? Was it that she was upset that she had "only" lost 25 of 40 intended pounds before she got pregnant again? (It seems to me more rational to want to get the pregnancies over with before really sweating that.) Was it that she considered the often disgustingly emaciated bodies that are held up in Hollywood a legitimate ideal, or that she unflinching admires women who wear a size 0? No, upon reading it a second time, what really depressed me was how Brooks eagerly beat herself up for enjoying the pleasure of food.

Advertisement

Brooks shames herself for loving family meals, the smell of baked bread, and the flavor of cheese. I don't consider that out of control; I consider that being human. But it's not so simple in our culture of excess, especially for women. One of the great pleasures of moving to New York has been shopping in stores that have fewer magazines aimed at women crowding up my visual space. This means fewer reminders of how my duty as a woman is to attend to the pleasures of others, while only enjoying my own as an afterthought or not at all. Rarely am I confronted with Cosmo magazine explaining 300 more ways to keep "him" interested, which has caused me to wonder why something women are supposed to work so hard at doesn't draw a paycheck (for most, anyway). And I'm even more relieved not to see magazines where half the headlines promise ever sweeter desserts and ever more enticing meals to serve your family, while the other half of the headlines offer diet tips so that you can better prepare yourself for the hard work of not eating any of the food you cook.

The kind of eating that Brooks describes that causes women to put on way more pregnancy weight than recommended doesn't sound like the eating of people who just love to eat. It sounds like the eating of women who've been deprived of the right to enjoy eating for so long they have no discernment at all-sucking down milkshakes, devouring entire pints of ice cream, vacuuming up white grains and pasta like they've never really been allowed to eat before. And in a sense, they haven't. Not without feeling guilty, and having their enjoyment of the food dramatically compromised by that. I'm inclined to think that binge eating isn't a matter of being a bad girl who likes food too much, but being a woman who hasn't been allowed to enjoy it and so goes a little nuts when given even the slightest permission.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.