But as I sit here eight months pregnant and still running to the bathroom every 15 minutes, I have to wonder, Is it doing more harm than good?
Maybe it’s the hormones talking, but when I see these glamorous images, all I can think is, Why doesn’t my experience look like that? Why can’t I get myself together and look half as good as pregnant Ciara? How come Regina George can produce enough milk to feed her child and what if I can’t? And let me tell you, it’s exhausting.
Of course, comparing ourselves to other moms is nothing new. It’s simply that this “Am I good enough?” question used to relate that one woman in your mommy-and-me yoga class. Now these women are everywhere, and always an internet search away, traipsing about with thousand-dollar strollers, “gifted” children and expertly coiffed blowouts.
Don’t get me wrong, the glamamom serves an important purpose in furthering our mission as mothers—the never-ending quest to prove that things like breastfeeding and postnatal care deserve prime-time coverage. (Ahem, remember when that Frida Mom commercial got banned from the Oscars?) It’s inspiring that we live in an era where a woman can pump on the cover of a magazine and breastfeed at a fashion show. But this “reality” is about as real as an episode of The Bachelor. The vast majority of us don’t look sexy while pumping, and we don’t want to. (It’s like trying to look hot while peeing. Just, no.) But thanks to the glamamom, we now feel like we’re supposed to.
I’ve definitely scrolled through celeb moms’ Instagram pages, ogled pregnant influencers and played the comparison game. This has undoubtedly colored my expectations of parenthood. It’s allowed me to look at a movie star’s “bounce back” or a postpartum influencer’s impeccable home and think that’s an achievable goal. It’s left me with visions of having a little boy who’s always dressed to the nines and never vomits on my carefully styled flowy caftan. It’s made me push things like postpartum depression to the back of my mind in favor of perfecting my safari-chic nursery for those first-reveal pics.
And I’m not alone; these unrealistic standards are taking a toll on real women all across the country. There’s a reason 10,000 people in the United States have Googled “mommy makeover” (a post-baby plastic surgery endeavor that costs anywhere from $9,000 to upwards of $20,000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons). And a BabyCenter survey of 7,000 women found that 61 percent expected to be back to their pre-pregnancy weight by their baby’s first birthday and weren’t. Of that same sample group, 64 percent said their body-image issues had worsened since they became a mother.