Okay, this is a bit random. But also interesting. (To me.)
Have you ever been to UrbanBaby.com? Well, it's a message board largely populated by urban parents and discussions chez UB range wildly from the practical (paint color suggestions, pediatric advice, baby name votes) to the more bizarre (sexual confessions, political rants, comparisons of household income to waist size - huh?!) Anyway, I used to frequent this site quite a bit when I was pregnant with Toddler and when she was young. At some point though, I stopped because I was disenchanted with the palpable meanness and snark that emerged in this anonymous forum.
Recently, I have popped back on from time to time. Out of curiosity. To be honest, this site is an amazing resource for the writer. Where else can you log on and get a real-time sampling of human conversation and concern? Where else can you pose an anonymous question and get a near-instant response from real people? (Warning to all: if you are a UB regular, your antics might just appear in my next novel!)
Anyway. I was on the site the other day and I watched a curious debate ensue. I will give you the basics. A mother of three children says that she has lost all of her baby weight, that she is quite thin actually, but that she still has a conspicuous belly (she calls it a "ball"). Fine. So what? People have kids and their bodies change. This is hardly revolutionary, right? Anyway, this woman says that she does not want to lose any more weight, that she has tried every exercise under the sun, but that this "ball" will not deflate. And. And her husband will not stop talking about it and mentioning it.
This woman mentions that she cannot afford plastic surgery and that she just doesn't know what to do. Then she (foolishly?) turns to the UB population for advice. And this lucky lady gets some pretty unanimous advice: Don't worry about your baby belly. Lose the husband. Yes, that's right. People get angry and told her that the issue here is not her body, but her betrothed. A few people defend her husband a bit and say that he is allowed to make comments about his wife's appearance, that partners should be able to be honest about such things. Another responder says that there is a vast difference between discussing issues of weight and health and suggesting that a woman change something about her appearance that she might not be able to change. The general feel here is that this man was essentially evil for disparaging his wife, and particularly her belly, that safe and cozy place where his own three children had grown.
I logged off and thought about this some. Obviously, none of us has the whole story here. We have no real grasp of the dynamics in this marriage, or whether this guy, this critical-seeming husband, is bad news. But. I will say that this woman's words made me a bit sad and a bit feisty. What should she do?
Of course this is not just about this one woman. This is about all of us, isn't it? When we enter into relationships, are we tacitly agreeing to an atmosphere of honesty even on tough and upsetting concepts? Or are there things that are off-limits like body and particularly body after babies? Goodness, I don't pretend to know.
What I do know is that in my opinion, 99.9% of women have some kind of body issue/insecurity. (I really can't speak for men, but I imagine most men do too.) Personally, I could never be with a man who criticized my body at any time (short of some more serious obesity/health concern). I have witnessed men telling women not to eat the bread rolls at dinner or that they better watch it (and women saying these things to men too) and this stuff makes me cringe. I could never handle this. But maybe I am super-sensitive and idealistic?
Then again. Presumably, we all want to look good. For ourselves and those we love. Maybe, just maybe, this anonymous poster on UB is just as frustrated and critical of herself as her husband is. Maybe she wants to get her body back and is genuinely seeking advice about how to do this? I have no clue.
All I know? These body battles are tricky, tricky things and maybe come down to the individuals involved. One more thing I know? If Husband ever said anything negative about my body, particularly after popping out his precious progeny, there would be some old school fisticuffs. Thankfully (for him and for me), Husband, my sweet and supportive man, has never gone there. Maybe that is because I am so freaking hot and perfect??? :)
- Has your partner ever said anything critical about your body or your eating habits? How have you handled this?
- Do you feel at liberty to criticize your partner's body or eating behaviors?
- Do you think there should be an added sensitivity surrounding body after babies or no?
- Do you think this man in the hypothetical above seems like a bad guy, or just honest?
- Do you have any advice for the woman who dared air her issue on UB? How to banish the belly "ball"?
- Assuming you could afford it, would you ever consider plastic surgery apres kiddos?
- Are there any places you go to cull instant and killer writing material?