I’ve never really watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I don’t have a clue who any of them are.
Social media, however, dictates that of course I know who they all are. They cannot escape the paparazzi and are the queens of social media themselves.
So it follows that I know that, this week, Kylie Jenner, having just given birth to her first baby four weeks ago, posted the following pictures…
And of course, there was controversy. People have said that her post-partum body is unrealistic and that it is irresponsible of her to post these sorts of photos. People have said she has ‘snapped back’ too quickly and that she is ‘too skinny too quickly’. And that she should be posting photos of her baby instead of her now non-existent baby bump.
I say this:
Maybe, instead of looking at this as a self-obsessed show-off who isn’t sparing a thought for anyone looking at the photo, we should consider who she is and why she is famous.
Keeping Up With The Kardashians started in 2007. Kylie was 10. She has grown up under the spotlight – literally, at times, with a camera following her every move. She doesn’t know how to be out of the media. It has made her a lot of money, she has created her own businesses and she is only 20 years old.
Because of that, she has grown up to believe that strangers on social media validate her existence. She relies on them to buy her make up, to like her Instagram posts and follow her on Snapchat. We all like to be validated. But thankfully, for me, when I had my first child, Instagram and Snapchat had only just launched and I was oblivious to them. Most people post photos of their children on social media and the likes and comments validate their idea that their child is amazing. Some people post filtered selfies on social media, and when people ‘like’ them, it validates their feeling of self-worth. Snapchat monopolises the filter thing by changing your face shape, making your eyes bigger and airbrushing your skin. The amount of people that screenshot a Snapchat selfie and make it their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram profile picture is pretty high. Because they like how they look. Perhaps they’re feeling crap about work, or they’ve had an argument with someone. Looking good on Snapchat and sharing it with others, who like and comment with heart emojis and ‘beautiful’ and ‘stunning’, makes people feel better.
Now remember how you felt when you were four weeks post-partum. I remember crying that I spilt milk all over the kitchen floor (literally cried over spilt milk) and feeling like a successful parent if I managed to home cook a meal. Kylie Jenner might be worth millions but millions don’t stop hormones.
Hormones can make you feel like shite. Especially just after you’ve had a baby. I read so often about how we need to support new mums more because we don’t want them to feel alone and isolated and lonely. Maybe Kylie Jenner isn’t feeling physically isolated but maybe, for this 20 year old, who has grown up on social media and TV, the fact that she feels the need to post a story of half naked, probably filtered, selfies on Snapchat, suggests she is feeling insecure and looking for validation (she also posted Instagram photos fully clothed with her baby so she isn’t relying entirely on her body for validation).
Do I think it was irresponsible? Yes and no. I think she is 20 years old and has led a very sheltered life. The role models she has for post-partum body image are her sisters and it isn’t as if they spent years getting back to their pre-pregnancy sizes. I think she needs to be very explicit about how realistic that post-partum body was to achieve. Has she dieted? Because that is unnecessary. Has she exercised? Because, again, I would think it is a bit too soon. But has she eaten healthily and possibly ‘snapped back’ because she has a very fit 20 year old’s body? That’s not exactly out of the realms of possibility.
We are constantly shown images of women with ‘normal’ post-partum bodies and these are hailed as brave women, amazing women and inspirational women. To body shame Kylie Jenner because she hasn’t followed ‘the norm’ seems a little contradictory to me. No one should feel ashamed of their body.
Maybe Kylie is unaffected by post-baby hormones and maybe her millions mean that she doesn’t deserve sympathy. But I don’t believe that.
I believe that no one should be made to feel bad about their post-baby body. I know people personally who have been back in their size 8 jeans a few weeks after giving birth. I can think of three off the top of my head. I myself was after having my first (after the second I have waved goodbye to size 8 jeans, probably for good and have welcomed progressively more leggings into my life). My friends and I were not irresponsible. We didn’t diet or exercise. Granted, we didn’t post photos of our bare torsos on Facebook but that’s because that would be completely alien to us. Kylie Jenner does it all the time so it follows that it is normal for her and she will continue to do so after having a baby.
If we want to normalise post-baby bodies, maybe we should share what our own look like. To show that all shapes and sizes are ‘normal’ – just like pregnant bodies and pre-pregnancy bodies. Just like bodies that have never been and never will be pregnant (this includes men). So here is mine.
This is my three year post-partum body after a whole deep pan margarita pizza at Pizza Hut today…