Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Today.com reported this morning that women who have children, according to their “online, unscientific” poll, hate their postpartum bodies. If you click on the article–though I urge you not to waste your time–you’ll see that the headline (‘Love my kids, hate my body’) is totally misleading: Only thirty-one percent of the some 3,000 moms surveyed said they hated their bodies.
Put differently, sixty nine percent of the women polled–the vast majority–presumably feel just fine about their bodies after having babies.
Why would Today.com blare such a misogynistic, skewed, ridiculous headline? Why does the American media encourage women to hate themselves and ignore the evidence that the majority of us don’t?
Perhaps because the beauty product industry that feeds off of, cultivates, and promotes women’s self-hate would have far fewer products to sell if moms felt good about their faces, their skin, and their bellies.
Perhaps because plastic surgeons, among the most highly paid medical professionals, would see steep drops in their profits from tummy tucks, boob jobs, and face lifts if women stopped falling for the totally offensive advertisements (like the one above for a mommy makeover) and stopped thinking there was something wrong with our bodies for looking, well, human.
As the New York Times reported in this article about mommy makeovers: “Many women struggle with the impact of aging and pregnancy on their bodies. But the marketing of the ‘mommy makeover’ seeks to pathologize the postpartum body, characterizing pregnancy and childbirth as maladies with disfiguring aftereffects that can be repaired with the help of scalpels and cannulae.”
The denigration of women is not limited to Today.com’s special forte of denigrating post-partum moms. As Jennifer Nelson, author of Airbrushed Nation: The Lure and Loathing of Women’s Magazines, reports on her excellent blog, this female editor of a woman’s magazine defends airbrushing models to make their bodies conform more closely to our conventional notions of beauty and this woman’s magazine takes our national obsession with conventional beauty to an all time low by suggesting weight gain during pregnancy causes low self-esteem.
The Today.com article is an example not only of bad journalism but also of the systematic denigration of American women in the interest of selling products, selling newspapers, and even selling website clicks.