Sunday, 8 February 2009

Quick hit: Body-shaping conformity

Apropros of a conversation I was having with a friend at a wedding yesterday, here's Jessica Alba talking about how she got her pre-pregnancy silhouette back, by wearing a girdle:
The Sin City star - who gave birth to her daughter Honor Marie last June - has admitted her trim body has little to do with hours spent at the gym.

She said: "I wore a girdle. Eight weeks after my girlfriend had her baby, you could see her six-pack. She told me to put an elastic band around my waist - any kind of band or girdle works. I didn't recover as fast as she did.

"I don't have a six-pack - that's just not my body at all."

Jessica - who married her husband Cash Warren in a secret ceremony last May - hated working out after having Honor Marie, and refuses to return to the gym.

She said: "The workouts were horrible - I cried. And I haven't worked out since."
My friend, Carl, pointed out to me that when the groom prepares for his wedding he finds a suit that flatters his body shape, whereas the bride tries to change her body to fit a certain dress, and a certain expectation of how she ought to look. I thought that was a pretty profound comment for a somewhat drunk guy on a ferry not long before midnight.


Alison said...

Alba's comments make me want to tear my hair out, and simultaneously give me hope. I hate - HATE - the pressure she was put under, but I'm so relieved to hear a famous new mother talk honestly about the extreme measures she was expected to use, and the pain that caused her. I hope that she'll develop confidence to fight the expectations down the track, but I can understand why she doesn't now.

I think it probably used to be true that many of Hollywood's beauties were the "naturally thin" type, but almost noone is as naturally thin as the current Hollywood crop, who've all shed kilos over the past decade. A few women like Alba who will at least admit that it's their job to be thin, and that doing so is hard, sometimes upsetting work, is a start.

At some point our idea of beauty has to normalise a bit, surely - there's only so thin the entertainment industry can get before it actually starts to destroy itself. Right? :-\

Julie said...

Alison, thank you for your summary, that is how I feel too, but I couldn't put it in words.

I remember reading an interview with Christian Bale some years ago when he was asked about the workout regime he had to do to have the body he did for American Psycho. He quite candidly explained he had to work out FOUR HOURS A DAY just to maintain it. That was a revelation for me - it really is not possible to look like a movie star and have a non-movie star life.

Alison said...

No, it's not possible. And it's not even just for getting a Hollywood body - a recent study showed that overweight and obese people who lost a substantial amount of weight would have to maintain a similar amount of exercise in order to stay within the supposedly "normal" range long-term (I wish I knew where I'd seen/heard it so I could quote it). It's just unreasonable to expect it of anyone who isn't being paid for it.

Tangent; I wonder how much more possible it is for men to achieve a long period of time at the gym or in exercise each day than for women, once they begin families. As I drove over Haywards Hill from Lower Hutt to Porirua this weekend, I was contemplating the extent to which male cyclists in the 30-50 age-group outnumbered female cyclists on that very popular cycling route (I'd estimate it was about 3:1). I've noticed an even larger discrepancy between male and female cycle commuters in Wellington, and I wonder whether there aren't an awful lot of men getting out cycling for exercise while their female partners care for children on weekends, and drive to work in order to get the kids to work and daycare on the way.

I find the only way I fit in regular exercise is to work it into my work day by cycling in, but I can cycle since I don't have kids to get anywhere before or after work, and therefore also have the flexibility to take a long lunch-break if I want to visit the gym.

Anna said...

I can't think of anything worse than being expected to be perfect and beautiful just weeks after giving birth. My experience of having babies is that exercise time, like sanity, is the luxury of those without small children.

Tamara said...

I just wanted to mention something about the girdle (not Alba's main issue of course). After I had my baby I went to the physio's session for new mums at Birthcare. She bemoaned the current prevalence of hipster underwear and advised us to start wearing high cut briefs rightaway in order to help our stomach muscles get back into shape. In addition to helping your 'figure' it leads to improved abdominal support for the back, which starts to work pretty hard when you're a new mum. I definitely gave it a go!

Anonymous said...

This "Carl" fellow sounds like a pretty deep thinker.

I'll bet he's devilishly handsome into the bargain.