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The “Body After Baby!” Hype Machine

By Amalah

kourtney02.jpgAll I have today is a rant.

I am really, really sick of those stupid “BODY AFTER BABY” tabloid covers. Particularly as they’ve gotten more and more insane — it’s no longer enough for a woman to debut a slimmed-down figure a mere six months postpartum, I mean, OBVIOUSLY we’ve all completely forgotten that she even HAD a baby by that point. No, now everyone is rushing to get these covers out within weeks.

OK! Magazine had Kendra Wilkinson on their cover TWO WEEKS POSTPARTUM (albeit with a tiny, slightly convex belly) talking about her exercise routine. And since Kendra had a c-section, this was a good FOUR WEEKS before she would have even been officially cleared to safely exercise.

Now OK! has been outed as completely faking and Photoshopping their latest “exclusive” post-baby body cover, which features a photo of Kourtney Kardashian, said to have been taken a mere seven days after her baby’s birth (and I just had to check her first name twice, because I have no idea which Kardashian is which). Her belly is flat as a pancake, and the accompanying headlines are full of promises to reveal her “secrets” and “hunger-free diet.” If she can do it, so can you. So why can’t you?

Spoiler Alert: This Body Has Been Photoshopped

Turns out, though, that OK! yanked the photo from a rival Life & Style shoot and simply altered it to hell. Kourtney tweeted about the OK! photo, rightfully insulted: “One of those weeklies got it wrong again…they didn’t have an exclusive with me. And I gained 40 pounds while pregs, not 26…But thanks!” She then told WWD: “They doctored and Photoshopped my body to make it look like I have already lost all the weight, which I have not.”

The original WAS taken one week postpartum, but as you can see below, Kourtney actually dares to sport a stomach that possibly looks like maybe an entire human being resided there AT SOME POINT in the recent past.

kourtney01.jpgI may be slightly unclear who exactly this woman is and why we should all hold ourselves up to her postpartum example, but I think she looks lovely in the original photo. (And who knows? Maybe that one’s been altered too. Maybe there is no original. LOGIC WORMHOLE AHHHHH.) The OK! cover is a such a crappy Photoshopping job to begin with, so it’s like, quadrupably insulting that they honestly expect their readers to look at that cover and see something to aspire to. “Yes! I want to look like a cardboard cutout of a bobblehead! As soon as possible!”

No More Fake Postpartum Beauty Shots

But we are, apparently, supposed to do whatever we possibly can to slim down as fast as we possibly can. C-sections or not. Breastfeeding or not. Sleep or not. Healthy or not. And oh! If you think this is just the number on the scale, well, you’re still not being hard enough on yourself. What you’re really after is your PRE-BABY BODY. Everything back to exactly the way it was before you underwent one of the most profound, life-changing experiences in the world. Your stomach ought to snap back like a rubber band, your breasts should never soften or droop, your hips should not widen or cellulite appear.

Hell, Octomom is prancing around in a bikini on the cover of Star Magazine — she got a whole year to slim down, but she had EIGHT BABIES. And she thinks any type of surgery is “cheating” and swears that she managed to magically erase her stretch marks, despite the fact that 1) we all saw that she had them, and 2) THERE IS NO WAY TO MAGICALLY ERASE STRETCH MARKS. They fade, sure. They don’t disappear. (Unless Photoshop has a cosmetics line now. I’ll take some under-eye concealer in about a +3 Gaussian blur.)

I suppose it’s kind of pointless to rail online about this and beg magazine publishers to knock this crap off, but…in case you’ve ever been tempted by those “diet-secret” headlines, or mournfully regarded your stretch marks, or even wondered what’s “wrong” with you and your completely and permanently altered post-baby body, put down the weekly rag and go to This is what women look like, OK! Okay? Good.

Photo source: OK!, Life&Style


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Elizabeth_K

    January 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I was actually going to write you today and ask you to please please write on weight. Not exercise (I ride my bike to work, 14 miles round trip, at least three days a week) and not diet (I’m HUNGRY and nursing!)but how HARD it is to lose the weight and how DEPRESSING it is to not wear any of my old clothes and yet how I don’t WANT to buy new clothes in my current enormous size. So — thanks for this post. It’s kind of killing me right now (13 weeks post partum)

  • Maira Caren

    January 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I had my son six months ago. My body is not back yet, but I do confess that would be nice if I could fit back on my jeans by now. The point is I will not go on a diet, I will not do a crazy workout, just for simple fact that I’m not ready for it.
    Woman need to be looking at themselves individually, timing is different for everyone, who cares if actresses and models loose their weight is couple of months? We don’t know what kind of stress these women go to if they really have to be back in shape for pre-booked work, commitments,etc…
    I am very happy with myself and most of all with the gift to becoming a Mom.

  • Tara

    January 26, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I share your frustration! When the media holds up an unachievable standard of postpartum “thin,” it sets women up for failure at a time when they’re emotionally fragile and need support, instead of discouragement. The first time they have a baby, most women are shocked at what their postpartum bodies look like (hint: it’s not pretty). Post-partum depression is a big risk for today’s mothers, and I worry that the unrealistic postpartum body image increases the risk.

  • Lisa

    January 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

    What a GREAT POST. I had a baby 16 weeks ago and it’s hard to get back into shape. Then there are all these “celebrities” miraculously snapping back into shape in basically weeks. It’s not possible! Your words made my day and it makes me feel better to know I am not the only one that feels this way. Thanks!

  • Michelle

    January 26, 2010 at 11:52 am

    And did you notice that the BABY is photoshopped as well?!

  • fidget

    January 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

    i thought the ok cover looked like a really bad photoshop job but wow. The original photo is lovely- she looks reasonable & NORMAL

  • Jamie

    January 26, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I know this is probably tacky, but I wrote a post about this on my own blog a few months ago because it makes me CRAZY!

  • Mia

    January 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    At 7 months post-partum, I’m finally in a place where I can start exercising… a few times a week. And watching what I eat… most of the time. Weight is finally starting to come off… at 1/2 lb a week. As someone who gained 50lbs during pregnancy, it’s going to be a long road down. So thanks for this post. I hate the body-after-baby spreads, but I also hate the adage “9 months up and 9 months down,” because everyone’s different.

  • Stephanie

    January 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for this post. I gained 55 pounds when I was pregnant (majority of which was water weight). The first 30 pounds was gone within 10 days — my baby was huge and all that fluid left the body. And I’m happy to say that I’m only about 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body is different. My shirts still don’t fit, I have all this extra skin around my belly, etc. I haven’t worked out as much as I would like — hello! I’m working and breastfeeding and pumping at work, etc. It’s hard to find time. I hate that we’re made to either strive for the impossible or hide the fact that we’ve given birth.

  • Jo

    January 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    THANK YOU. Seriously. WTF?! I had my baby 17 months ago and my tummy is still slightly droopy and it probably always will be. My hips are wider. My boobs are bigger. Oh yeah, ALSO I have this amazing little person that I CREATED and pushed out of my VAGINA. Can the magazine maybe focus on that for 2 flipping seconds before trying to make me feel guilty for not being a skinny popsicle stick 3 weeks after pushing said baby out of my lady bits? Let’s take away all the wonder and joy of this little miracle and instead focus on (and despise) our postpartum bodies and how we aren’t fitting into society’s dictated pressures on what a woman is supposed to look like (some unrealistic, photo-shopped image of perfection). Then lets starve, exercise and go a little more crazy just to fit into our precious pre-pregnancy skinny jeans. And why? Does your husband really care that much? Do your friends? Your baby certainly doesn’t. It’s all madness.
    But oh, does it feel good to rant about it. Thanks for another great post!

  • Jessicawp

    January 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Whatever happenned to nine months up nine months down? It took awhile to gain the weight it should take awhile to lose it too. Plus by nine months postpartum you are hopefully getting some sleep, leaving a little energy to exercise or to focus on eating healthy. And the precious baby is probably mobile and you are running after them. At nine months my son went from only sitting to crawling everywhere fast in a week and a half. And I lost the rest of my baby weight chasing after him and trying to baby proof the house on the fly.

  • Roberta

    January 26, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks, Amalah for the rant! Besides all of these photoshopped sham baby weight loss photos being totally unrealistic, the whole idea is also horrifyingly unhealthy. I cringe at the thought of post-C section women exercising before 6 weeks and tearing open their incisions. Or women starving themselves at the expense of breastfeeding or their own health while on the very demanding care-schedule of a newborn. Yes, I had a baby. No, my body will never be the same. I’m much more OK with that than I thought I would be. Because, OMG tiny preshus newborn overwhelmed with hormones and love and tears! This is why Spanx were invented.

  • Olivia

    January 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Excellent rant! The octuplets mom cover has reached a zenith of ridiculous body after baby crap. The audacity of claiming she had no surgery, especially when she is know to have had plastic surgery in the past, is insulting.

  • chattycricket

    January 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    CAN YOU IMAGINE how horrified the masses would be to see me, well into my fourth pregnancy in five years?
    Every time I cough? I pee in my pants. And I’ll TELL YOU THIS because OK! Magazine WON’T!
    Lordy. Leave the gestating women alone.

  • Em

    January 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I have kind of the opposite problem – breastfeeding has left me with what I’ve heard referred to as “nursing ass” – I lost so much weight my butt completely disappeared (and not in a good way!!!)

  • Monica McDonald

    January 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    LOL! I didn’t make it down to pre pregnancy weight before we decided to go for kid number two! This hype is just silly. Breastfeeding is not a weight loss program and neither is motherhood (it is VERY hard for your body to let go of extra weight when you’re SLEEP DEPRIVED!). Just be healthy and love your body anyway. I sold my pre-baby teeny tiny clothes on eBay and had money to buy some new pretties for my new body. Look at your family history. Yes, my mom lost all but 5 lbs or so after each pregnancy until the last, when she was 27 and hung onto quite a but. Well, my first pregnancy was at 27, so I hung onto mine too. And its ok. 🙂

  • Lindsay

    January 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!! I’ve been beating myself up for taking 9 months to lose all the baby weight (while still breastfeeding) and STILL have a little bit of a pouch and stretch marks, etc. etc. How about we celebrate what an amazing job our bodies did in CREATING LIFE PEOPLE!

  • Mouse

    January 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for pointing out the magically disappearing stretchmarks on Octomom–it was the first thing I noticed!
    I actually have fewer red stretchmarks in this pregnancy, but it’s made my old ones very noticeable, and I know that there will always be some evidence of them afterwards.

  • KaMod

    January 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you Amy!! I am currently in week 30 of my 4th pregnancy, so I am having a different sort of problem. You see, about a year and a half ago, I had bariatric surgery. I went from 449llbs at my heaviest to 232lbs at my lowest (2 months before getting pregnant). I got remarried to a fantastic man and made the decision to have my tubes untied. The reaction from people has been horrendous! “I can’t believe you lost all that weight and now you’re just going to put it back on.”. Is what I hear most. But honestly, it’s my body. I am happy with the way I look and it isn’t like I went and got a tummy tuck to take care of all that extra skin (but btw, after this one I may do that.). Either way, I think people should keep thier opinions on weight and body type to themselves. I am happy and healthy the way I am, BACK OFF!!!! ( oh and I love your pregnancy calendar!!!)

  • Catherine S

    January 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I love!!! I was actually really proud of my body after I had my son, and even though in some ways it took a beating, in other ways it actually improved. Whatever ever happens to your body during pregnancy, it is important to allow yourself time to heal and be gentle during the postpartum period. It really is sad that women are doing unhealthy things to themselves exactly when they should be the most appreciative of what their body has done.
    In a lot of ways, I just don’t buy that we should blame magazines and media. It really is up to us to resist that pressure and that unrealistic image. We do not have to be victims of this culture unless we allow ourselves to be.

  • Anonymous

    January 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for this! I know I totally sabotaged myself into thinking what I was “supposed” to look like after having my son and wow, what a shock I had when faced with reality! Whoa! I wish I had been nicer to myself in those earlier days.
    Something that will always stick with me is from an article from a past issue of Parenting: you can’t be a mom without looking like one, even just a little bit. We all wear the signs of battle from having babies and why is that so bad? My husband swears up and down that I look better now after having our son than before. Granted my stomach looks like an empty nutsack and my boobs look like droopy tube socks but I know what he’s getting at. I created and sustained life and that’s worth more than wearing size 6 jeans any day!

  • Emmy

    January 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    My daughter is nine months old and I’m still about 20lbs over what I was before she was born. The best thing I did for myself was buy some new clothes that FIT, even though they’re in a bigger size. It sucks buying clothes bigger than I think I “should” but not trying to squeeze myself into too small pants and shirts REALLY does a lot for the self esteem. Holding up the octomom as “normal” is beyond ridiculous and all new parents should accept that your body changes because you did the greatest thing ever, make a baby!

  • Suzanne

    January 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    If anyone really had a secret miracle diet/cream/workout that could really give you your “pre-baby body” back, they would start selling that sh** for $500 a bottle and make billions. Until then, the only way to get a pre-baby body is to use a condom. Are you listening, teenagers???
    PS I’m almost 10 months post partum and still not into my old jeans. Guess what I discovered – they make bigger pants and don’t even print the sizes on the outside! Alert the media!

  • bethany actually

    January 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you. And excellent shout-out to Shape of a Mother! A body that has birthed another human being is beautiful because of what it can DO, period.

  • Leah

    January 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    This is not so much a dissention as a qualification: I think one of the reasons so many stars snap back after giving birth is because so many of them were thin to begin with, what with them being celebrities and all. (Which begs the question of which came first: a hot body or stardom. Chicken, egg, etc.) For example, I have no doubt that Kendra Wilkinson snapped back remarkably well because, hello, she weighed 90 lbs. before she got pregnant (and a third of that was in her boobs). Many stars are in extremely good shape because they consider it part of their job to be so. And being fit before had can (sometimes) make it easier to get back in shape after giving birth.
    THAT SAID, the Kardashian thing is just wrong because, as Jennie said at MamaPop, she was not a skinny little thing BEFORE she gave birth. It’s one thing to show skinny girls who got skinny again after having babies, but it’s another thing entirely to Photoshop curvy girls into postpartum skinny girls.

  • POM

    January 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Amen. Love your vent, couldn’t agree with you more. Haven’t had a baby yet but TTC and from the looks of my mother…I’m gonna struggle with the mid-section…what can ya do?
    I hate the media and celeb BS!! Nevermind the fact that they get paid millions to workout all day and look incredible…we have live real life. I’m sooo sick of those effing magazines!

  • Lady in a Smalltown

    January 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I just came from the grocery store where I saw both of those covers. I have an 8.5 month old and I am still looking at baby weight. In fact, I lost it all really fast and then put it all back on. But I have an awesomely cute baby to show for it.
    I love that Kourtney Kardashian came out with the truth to that fake cover. I wish Octomom would just go away! You know, she has never had her lips plumped either.

  • Laura

    January 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I’m with Em – nursing gave be a terrible ass, and I was 5 lbs underweight until I weaned the first! Not quite a bad with the second, but just when “nursing ass” (I love that!) went away I got pregnant again!
    No one should be judged for how they look after baby. Every body heals differently and in different time…

  • aibee

    January 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Every week there’s another article published with photoshopped images of celebrities looking svelte and toned and – lord help us – AWAKE. It makes it SO HARD to remember we don’t LOSE the body we had before our babies arrived, we effing EARNED the body we have now.
    Every pound, stretch mark, sag, droop, and extra smoosh on the side is there for a reason.
    Embrace the changes, and remember that who we are now, and how we look now, is solely because we’re also a mothers now.
    We created life. No other event could make us as beautiful as we are today.
    Now go hug your baby.

  • deb

    January 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Why does nobody talk about all of the tummy tucks? So many of these startlets go in for their scheduled “Cs” and get a tuck while they are in there, no matter how ill-advised. And then still have the chutzpah to allow themselves to be held up as models of “post-baby body back in 4 weeks!” Ugh. I believe this irks me most of all.

  • Muirnait

    January 27, 2010 at 4:40 am

    That, and these women have personal trainers, dietitians, nannies, and no real day job. They have the time and the money to make this a priority.

  • Abby

    January 27, 2010 at 7:43 am

    I think this is part of a bigger phenomenon. There seems to be a real push on to ignore the big deal of a baby in a mom’s life. The mom is supposed to get back to her pre-baby life immediately (including getting back to work in 12 weeks, back in shape before venturing out in public) and the baby is supposed to do his part (sleep through the night on his own ASAP, stop nursing, not want to be held so darn much). It just devalues the whole experience. As though, women should stop being such prima donnas and get over it already.

  • Ms. Krieger

    January 27, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for linking to shapeofawoman. Fabulous site – I had not heard of it before.

  • Kim

    January 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Octomom says she worked out 3-4x a week, for 3 hours at a time, between 12-3am. To which I say, WTF? You have 14 kids, and you’re finding 12 hrs a week to spend solely on yourself, not to mention when are you sleeping? Arrrrgh. Crawl under a rock somewhere, lady. Just. Go. Away. (She was on the Today Show – I didn’t seek out the info.)
    My OB said woman who exercise too soon often develop issues with their bladders, etc. down the road. I am a bad person who enjoys saying, ha, take that! to celebrities in my head.

  • Kate

    January 27, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I gave birth about 13 months ago and am still not back to my pre-preg weight. My giving birth unfortunately coincided with the age 30 metabolism slow-down. Ugh. With working full-time, being a mom, and working on my doctorate, there isn’t much time for working out.
    I’m still about 15 pounds above where I started, but I have noticed that my clothes are fitting better and I LOOK more in shape than I did 6 months ago (even though I weight the same). I think I simply have better muscle tone from carrying that huge baby around everywhere. So I’m trying to focus on the fact that even though the weight may be the same, the appearance and healthiness is definitely improving.

  • KaMod

    January 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I agree with Muirnait. Unlike a lot of these “Celeb Mom’s” the rest of us live in the real world. No nanny, no personal fitness trainer, and a FULL TIME job as well as being a FULL TIME mom. Ladies, lets not hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. Just do your personal best, and love yourself because of it!

  • Holly

    January 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Oh my gosh, thank you so much for writing this! I had my 2nd baby 3 months ago (both c-sections) and am 5 pounds away from my pre-baby weight, but I have a total shelf, weird wrinkly, saggy skin, and a nice ring of stretchmarks around my belly button. I hate, hate, hate all those magazines praising stars for losing all their weight in 2 weeks! How are these people even exercising? Does their incisions not just split back open? Grrr!!!

  • Catherine S

    January 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Oooh, Abby, You are so damn right!! Motherhood and all the accompanying changes really are glossed over and devalued aren’t they? Hmm, that kinda really makes me mad.

  • MrsBagley

    January 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Bravo, Amy. BRAVO.

  • andrea

    January 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you so much for pointing this out! As a new mom or soon to be mom you see such things and think that this is realistic when it’s just not. You can’t just push out a kid and go back to life as before. Everything changes as they say including your bum!

  • jojo

    January 31, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I agree – ALL WOMEN SHOULD NOT BUY MAGAZINES that make these insane claims & try to create these mythical standards. if we don’t buy the magazine they’ll stop putting that rubbish on them. I found them so insulting.
    My 2nd boy is 19 months and I’m still whittling down slowly.

  • ClaudiaA

    February 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    What people are forgetting too is that a lot of the celebrites that bounce back so quickly were already sporting killer bodies before they got pregnant!! And, they have every incentive ($$, their careers depend on it, etc.) to get back into shape immediately. I lost all my weight within 5 weeks, but then again, I didn’t look like Gisele before or after and don’t expect to. I need to get photoshopped! Great rant!