Charlotte Philby: Does a mummy have to be yummy?

No sooner does a woman give birth than the pressure is on to look good

Share
Related Topics

She is the very epitome of beaming celebrity, airbrushed to near-oblivion, dolled up to the nines, radiating perfection. Oh and what's that in the picture? Ah yes, her new-born tot. Another soap star who has given birth is gracing the cover of a magazine, and showing us round a home that is remarkably free of the clutter which, for the rest of us, is part and parcel of having a young child.

Nothing wrong in that, you may well argue. Just a chance for us, the adoring public, to coo over our her new arrival, and snoop around the house. Well, I don't think so. The illusion created by these model new mothers – and of course very often they are models – is troubling. Is this really the state to which women experiencing motherhood should aspire?

Of course there's nothing new in the notion of the yummy mummy – but the supposed desirability of such a figure has just been depressingly reinforced by The Yummy Mummy's Survival Guide, a new book by Liz Fraser that offers tips on such gravely important matters as how to look glamorous in the playground.

Fraser talks us through her struggle to be both a mother and a sexy woman, and expounds at length about the depths of despair women face when confronted with the wobble of her belly and the sight of her untended hair-do in those post-pregnancy months, and about how soul-destroying this can be.

And one might concede that you could hardly blame such women, given that we are bombarded with images of what we are told represent the perfect mother at every stage of the pregnancy. Pre-birth, there are the slew of pictures of naked, re-touched celebrities clutching their perfect baby bumps – a trend that goes right back to a very pregnant Demi Moore posing for the cover of Vanity Fair.

Then, weeks later, the same women are showing off their iron-board stomachs having undertaken some gruelling exercise and dieting regime. There are the endless stories in how to shift "the post-baby bulge", bolstered by images of barely pubescent models, encouraging us to lose excessive weight within weeks of having a baby – despite the adverse effect this may well have on a mother's mental and physical health and that of their new-born, at a time when we should be enjoying the awesome power of our bodies. Those who fail to live up to the objective set out are held up, lambasted and ridiculed.

All of these matters point to the over-riding fact, that we have become so over-sexualised as a nation, and so obsessed by a single – and largely unattainable – idea of what makes a woman sexy, and in our quest to achieve that, that we have lost sight of what's really important – our own mental and physical health, and that of our children. What has happened to us that we have such a warped take on what qualifies as being the perfect mother?

The irony, of course, is that there is actually nothing more attractive than the glow of a pregnant woman, and the sense of tenderness, capability and pride a new mother exudes. This is what the female form is about. That, along with a healthy dose of self-confidence, is as good as it gets.

c.philby@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
SEEN graffiti Wonder Woman  

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution

Matthew James
 

Errors & Omissions: moderate, iconic royals are a shoe-in for a pedantic kicking

Guy Keleny
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us