If only new celebrity mums had tired eyes and sagging tums
21:33 GMT, 19 June 2012
Bounce back: Superstar Beyonce looks fantastic after the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy
Scarcely a week passes without a new picture of a celebrity mother being photographed looking even slimmer after the birth than she did before getting pregnant.
‘Look at us,’ these women seem to be shouting to the world. ‘See how easy it is to have a baby! Pop it out, jump on to the treadmill, starve yourself on lettuce [as Beyonce recently confessed to doing, four months after having her first child] and get right back to business.’
Well, I’m all for not letting yourself go — it’s perilously easy to lose your self-respect if you allow yourself to permanently lose your figure. But I do think it’s time we scotched this ridiculous notion that having a baby is simply a brief interruption to normal life that needs to be got over as quickly as possible.
It’s literally a life-changing event. It can make you the happiest you’ve ever been — and also the most miserable. It can empower you with the strength of ten lionesses — and bring you to your knees with bone-aching exhaustion.
So anyone who thinks she’s being modern and emancipated by nonchalantly downplaying the impact of motherhood is setting herself up for a colossal fall.
The problem is, over the past few years, the concept of needing time both to recover from the birth and bond with a new baby seems to have become as outdated as a home perm.
Take the case of hospital manager Michelle Stone, who decided to buck this insidious trend and take a full year’s maternity leave. While she was away, the woman doing her maternity cover bombarded her with emails about work — the first arrived just two days after the birth, while Michelle was still in hospital recovering from a Caesarean — and made a formal complaint against her when she failed to respond.
Life-changing event: Having a child can empower you, but also bring you to your knees with exhaustion
She then apparently began a campaign to destroy the new mother’s reputation at work.
This week, an industrial tribunal decided to award Michelle 18,000 compensation for this distressing ordeal.
Let’s leave aside speculation about whether her colleague was plotting to get Michelle’s job. It’s just as likely that she felt justified in condemning her for failing to conform to the current warped image of new motherhood, which equates it with being no more significant than a dose of ’flu.
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In fact, the first year with a new baby is irreplaceable and infinitely precious — not to mention absolutely vital for the baby’s emotional and intellectual development. Maternity leave should be the one time in life when you’re allowed to wear a dressing gown all day if you want to and to abandon all but the most basic of household chores. I remember thinking it was a triumph if I managed to get out of the house by 3pm to take my first child out in the pram for a walk.
When I did go back to work (after an all-too-short three months, driven by financial necessity, as my husband was still studying), I was plump, exhausted and two dress sizes bigger. I’m profoundly grateful that, 16 years ago, this was considered entirely normal.
Nor did it ever occur to me to worry about being undermined by a childless female colleague.
No, the battles we fought back then were with older working mothers — women who’d suffered to get where they were and were damned if they were going to let their juniors have a better time of it.
So we worked all hours, always made sure we had back-up childcare and never dreamt of complaining. And it was just as wrong-headed as today’s breezy pretence that nothing could be simpler than being a new mother who is slim, sexy and glamorous.
If only those celebrity mums would take a year off, and agree to be photographed looking hollow-eyed and overweight.
Fat chance, I know.
Slightly excessive, it may be. But I, for one, support the snooty Ascot ban on women exposing their shoulders. The real culprit, of course, is the trend for those awful strapless dresses that reveal not just shoulders but — far less enticingly — cleavages as deep as the Cheddar Gorge and lumpy, overhanging bosoms. It’s a look that on anyone other than a young filly condemns the wearer to the knacker’s yard.
Change: Zoe Ball has given up drinking – as has her husband, DJ Fat Boy Slim
At last, Zoe's become an adult
Zoe Ball has finally found happiness, aged 41, by giving up drinking (as has her husband, DJ Fat Boy Slim).
Remember her wedding day, when she was pictured in jeans and a T-shirt, fag in mouth and clutching a bottle of Jack Daniels
In her 20s, Zoe was the original hard-drinking, drug-taking, fast-living (and ultimately deeply unhappy) ladette.
That was a reaction, she says now, to her very ‘safe’ teenage years when she was ‘a bit square’ — proving yet again that having a perfectly behaved, non-smoking, non-drinking, non-rebellious teenager is no guarantee whatsoever of a grounded young adult.
The persistent rain has heralded the emergence of wellies as a luxury fashion item. Every woman I’ve spoken to covets those incredibly chic French ones worn by Kate, even if they do cost an incredible 300. Mind you, most of us would pay ten times that just to have the legs to wear them . . .
Speaking after a high-profile separation from his third wife, Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace said: ‘I can safely say I will never marry again.’
Exactly one month later, he has publicly told Italian would-be glamour model Cara Franco — who’s 21 years younger than him — ‘You could be the next Mrs Wallace.’
I suppose she could. But unless she is of unsound mind, I predict she won’t.
New couple Gregg Wallace is said to be dating glamour model Cara Franco after meeting her at the Ideal Home Show
Presented with a basic maths exercise book by a comedian when he arrived to give his Mansion House speech last week, George Osborne looked uncomfortable. Another trick missed. All he needed to do was laugh, and say: ‘Just what I needed,’ and we’d have all slightly warmed to him. Instead, his constipated expression served as another reminder of a government that too often seems arrogant, aloof and dismally lacking in humour.
Beach babe: Fearne Cotton has a fern tattoo stretching from her right hip to top rib
I can only assume the obsession with tattoos is a consequence of the vogue for viewing the body as a work in progress, in constant need of refining.
Sadly, the end results are quite hideous. David Beckham has ruined his body with them, now Fearne Cotton looks to be making the same mistake.
Photos of her on holiday in Barbados (right) reveal a black dragon tattoo across her back and a fern stretching from her right hip to top rib. At 30, she’s in the springtime of life. I wonder if she’ll be quite so happy when wrinkles leave her fern looking distinctly autumnal
I don't doubt that the girlfriend of
cricketer Tom Maynard was grief-stricken after hearing he’d been hit by a
Tube train while running away from the police. I just wish that she
hadn’t felt the need to go on Twitter to say so.
Waiting game: Jennifer Aniston is said to be desperate for boyfriend Justin Theroux to propose
We're all tired of waiting
Jennifer Aniston is said to be feeling ‘betrayed’ because Justin Theroux, her boyfriend of a year, has still not proposed. ‘As much as she hates being alone, Jen will dump Justin if things don’t improve,’ a ‘friend’ is quoted as telling Grazia magazine. I think we’ve all had quite enough of Jennifer’s relationship woes. I honestly don’t think I could bear her to be single again. For the love of God, Justin, get down on bended knee, please!
Six years ago, revered environmentalist James Lovelock predicted that global warming would wipe out most of humanity by the end of the century, killing billions.
Those who survived would be in the only part of the world where the climate remained tolerable — the Arctic.
Now he says he got it wrong. Global warming may not be as serious as he feared; sea levels are not rising as fast as predicted; and fracking — a technique for extracting natural gas — would solve our energy needs for the foreseeable future.
So we’re not doomed after all. As the economist John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have explained when reversing his economic theory:
‘When the facts change, I change my mind.’ And men have the nerve to say women are indecisive!