The truth about post-baby weight-loss pictures

Tori Spelling and her family - husband Dean, stepson Jack, Finn, Stella, Hattie and Liam - in September.
Tori Spelling and her family - husband Dean, stepson Jack, Finn, Stella, Hattie and Liam - in September. 

Tori Spelling has admitted she lied about losing weight after the birth of baby number four. In her new book, Spelling It Like It Is, she confesses to fabricating a story for the American tabloid magazine US Weekly. She told the journalist that she "dropped her baby weight" through a combination of low-impact exercise and a diet of fish, vegetables and soups. The truth, however, was that she starved herself in a bid to look skinny for the ubiquitous bikini cover that ran with the offending article.

"I took off my weight the old-fashioned way,” she writes. “I like to call it the Just Keep Your F---ing Mouth Shut and Eat Air diet. It's all the rage."

Spelling blamed the fib on her publicist who felt the truth wouldn't go over well with her fans. "Women didn't want to know that I had lost weight through dieting. I didn't want to be the asshole that didn't work for it. So I said that I swam. It was sort of a bad choice.”

Yep Tori, it really was.

Bikini and post-baby body should never be put into the same sentence and yet, they are. All the time. Jessica, Kim, Kate, Gwyneth, Miranda – we live in a post-baby, bikini-body soup. Just this week, former Miss Australia Rachael Finch showed off her "body after baby" in a glossy shoot for Woman's Day. The shots show the 25-year-old model reclining poolside in a sporty two-piece swimsuit. Her legs are toned, her hair is shiny and her baby is draped across her concave belly like a sarong.

Rachael gave birth to daughter Violet 28 days ago. On the 29th day she posed in a bikini. In the interview, Rachael talks about getting back into shape, offering: "When I was training for a triathlon last year, I was eating the same amount as I am now while I'm breastfeeding but I'm not exercising as intensely. Now, I'm just walking with a bit of Pilates, yoga and dancing. But I'm eating because I'm just so hungry!"

Kim Kardashian was hounded by paparazzi throughout her pregnancy. How many photos did you see of her heaving that gorgeous belly out of the back seat of an SUV? There were bidding wars for shots that made her look most overweight. Pictures of her bottom garnered thousands of dollars. The tabloids traded in her blossoming shape like sharks following a fishing trawler. It was brutal.

Last week, the reality star posted her own post-baby body shot on Instagram. It featured her famous derriere and not much else. In an interview with Extra, she explained the snap was a direct reaction to the vicious media treatment she endured in the lead-up to daughter North's birth.

“Everyone was so nasty to me when I was pregnant,” she said. “I did gain a lot of weight, that's kind of what you do when you get pregnant. I felt good about myself when I took that picture. I've gotten down to a good weight and I'm proud of that."


I feel sad for Kim. Sad she had to endure cruel commentary about her pregnant shape and that the only way she could wrench back her self-esteem was via a selfie of her shrinking bottom.

Host of Channel Nine's Today show, Lisa Wilkinson, touched on the topic in her brilliant Andrew Olle Lecture, which discussed the portrayal of women in the media. She said: "I despair whenever I hear the words 'Post Baby Body' accompanied by images of yet another celebrity who in four amazing weeks has managed to immediately wipe away any physical trace of evidence that she had ever been pregnant in the first place. And we're meant to aspire to that?”

It's a crazy measure, and a dangerous one. The first year of being a new mother is a vulnerable time for most women. A tiny baby and changing body requires physical and emotional adjustment. Sleep deprivation and hormones can make even the most secure women question their value and ability. When you're standing at the supermarket checkout wearing your husband's tracksuit pants, eating a Tim Tam in an effort to stay awake after nights of no sleep, while rocking a crying baby in your arms, you don't particularly want to see a picture of a mother doing it better and in a bikini. It may be subliminal but it's still damaging.

On Wednesday Jessica Simpson wrote a refreshingly honest article, titled '4 Things I Want My Kids To Know', for The businesswomen and mother of two has been in the headlines about her weight since she was a teenager, and in an open letter she discussed the unrealistic pressures placed on women and their appearance.

“My pregnancies were well documented and my struggles with my weight and body image have played out in front of the world. As hard as that has been, the hardest part is to realise that with all the hurtful and harsh criticism from others, I have been the hardest on myself. Raising Maxwell [her daughter] makes me realise that I don't want her to see me beat myself up for things like food choices or numbers on a scale. I don't want her to learn anything like that from me. I've learned the hard way that those things don't determine who we are and instead make us feel terrible about ourselves."

Finally, a post-baby body story that I want to read.