I’ve said here before that I like me my celebrity gossip, TV talk and pop culture psychobabble. I like it so much that I write, now, for not one, but two pop-culture-for-parents websites. I like it, in large part, because I like poking fun at the whole cult-slash-culture of celebrity, but also because it involves pretty, glossy magazines, television and all variety of mindless entertainment in general. I wouldn’t have survived ten-plus years pursuing multiple degrees in political philosophy if I hadn’t spent some quality downtime with Us Magazine. Besides, Socrates loved his gossip. He’d have been all over Perez Hilton, for sure.
So I make no apologies. My worst day in the trenches of gossip is like getting an enema for my brain (and believe me, my brain needs regular enemas); my best day yields scads of opportunity for broader reflection about the culture and my place in it. There’s no downside to gossip, just all kinds of bubbly up.
Or so I thought. The other day, I got a bit stung by pissy commentary in response to a post that I wrote over at Famecrawler. I don’t usually get stung by comments – I’ve got a pretty tough hide after nearly two years of blogging, and in any case the loudest commenters on pop culture/gossip blogs tend to skew crazy, so they’re easy to brush off – but in this case, it got kind of personal, and I didn’t like it.
The post? A bit of a rant about supermodel-turned-supermom Eva Herzigova, who recently told the press that she did absolutely nothing to get her pre-baby body back to Victoria’s Secret standards after only four months. That, and she stated that this was just the way “Nature” worked for women. “Nature has a way of taking care of things. If you have a certain figure you’ll go back to it,” she said, before going on to counsel mothers everywhere: “Don’t worry about it.”
That, I said, sounded like bullshit. The part about her doing nothing, for one. Sure, some lucky women drop the weight easily, but the tummy? The boobs? All the stretched-out bits? Those require work, especially if you’re in your mid-thirties, as she is. I noted, in the post, that I had been a skinny-minny prior to pregnancy (at not quite 110 lbs, and nearly 5 foot 9, my proportions were not unlike hers – my doctor told me to gain 20 pounds before she’d start calculating ‘pregnancy weight,’ because I was ‘too thin’), and that I always had been a skinny-minny, but that I wouldn’t have been able to get my ‘old’ body back after pregnancy without a lot of work. I didn’t do any work, and although I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’m nowhere near my former size. And it would take a team of personal trainers to get me back to my former shape (those boobs don’t just spring back, you know.) I’m happy with my shape, but it would have messed my head up bad if I’d been convinced, before going through the transformation of pregnancy, that “Nature” would just give me my body back with no effort on my part.
So I called bullshit. I stand by that call of bullshit. Even if Eva Herzigova was telling the god’s honest truth and her body did just magically snap back to supermodel proportions, I still stand by that call. Because I think that it sucks when women are told – explicitly or implicitly – that celebrities are super-special, super-gifted beings who just naturally look the way that they do, with no help from trainers or dieticians or private chefs or make-up artists or Photoshop artists or plastic surgeons or good lighting or whatever it is that money can buy and why doesn’t everyone look that way, anyway? Doesn’t everyone just get their flat tummy back after childbirth? Who me, do crunches? Never! Nature made me this way!
Anyway. I received, almost immediately, a pissy comment about how tiresome it is that people hate on skinny celebrities. Whatever; I see variations on the u hate celerities u suck comment all the time. But then came the comment about how *I* clearly overate during my pregnancy, which is how I got so fat and bitter and jealous of Eva. Then somebody disparaged my ass – which, they implied, was probably fat – and said something similar about how lots of women get their bodies back easily, and that it was just so sad that I was so jealous of Eva. Then another comment or two about my body issues, and my jealousy and my meanness and didn’t it just say so much about how petty and fat I must be be to hate on Eva? Then another comment about how I shouldn’t have gained so much weight in my pregnancy. Which is just a bit, you know, stinging, not to mention confusing.
I didn’t say anything super harshly mean about Eva; I just speculated – emphatically, granted, in a manner not unlike that of Miracle Max’s wife in ‘The Princess Bride’ (LIAR!), but the emphasis was meant to be funny – that she wasn’t being honest. I imagined that she probably has personal trainers and private chefs and maybe a team of leprechauns on hand to rub down her super-special thighs with gold nuggets and to rinse her hair in rainbows. I don’t think that’s crazy talk (excepting, perhaps, the leprechauns, but I can’t be sure). Even if she did piss the weight away without even blinking – and I get that that happens, sometimes – what happened to the muffin top? To the boobs? To the stretched-out bits? She’s thirty-five years old, not twenty-five. (And if you tell me that some women just have magical elastic skin that they maintain into their thirties and which just springs back to tautness after pregnancy with no effort at all, well, then, I will just have to crawl into a corner a cry for days.) I just don’t buy it, and I don’t think that it’s a helpful message to send to women (if you’re special enough, Nature will let you have your body back. Not special? Oh well. You were probably fat to being with.)
So why did some women – they were all women – feel compelled to defend this message, and to assert that anyone – me – who would challenge Eva’s claims must be a fat, sad, jealous woman who had probably overeaten during her own pregnancy and who couldn’t get over the fact that she’d made herself fat, fatty fatterson?
Do I sound hurt? I am hurt. Not because there are a half-dozen or so women out there who think that I’m fat and troubled (I am troubled; I’m hormonal and barfy and that makes me cranky), but because it rattled my sense of my writerly self. My gossipy writerly self. Was I too snarky? Was I not snarky enough? Did my hormonal weirdness push its way through my words and smear itself across the screen without me even realizing it? Did I actually write a really bad, stupid gossip post? Had I been fat during my pregnancy? Am I going to get fat now? Am I facing a future of bad, cranky writing and fat miserableness?
I know: I’ll be fine; this is nothing. But still. My skin is not so thick as I thought it was. That’s discomfiting. It really is.