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Friday 15 December 2017

Terry Prone: Kate Winslet's honesty about baby weight takes pressure off all new mums

Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet

According to Kate Winslet, she is not killing herself to lose the weight she gained in having her most recent baby.

It may be fifteen months since she gave birth (to a boy named Bear) but her measurements are the least of her worries.

"I so didn't want to be one of those 'Oh, wow, she's back in shape after 12 weeks' women," she told People magazine. "When I read things like that, I just think 'Oh, for f***'s sake, that's actually impossible.'"

Cue the contradiction from Mila Kunas, who gave birth to her first child four months ago and is appearing in photographs and on TV shows to indrawn breaths and pats on the back for how slim she is.

It's all very simple, says Mila. You just breastfeed. Breastfeeding your baby is like a workout. (She does have a point, and it's on that basis that breastfeeding should be promoted to young women.)

These two celebs present two different takes on the same problem, which is one of fat-shaming and mother-judging. It has become a global media reality.

On the one hand, magazines, online and on the shelves, announce that women are put under unnatural pressure and that they should be allowed to take their time, after giving birth, before concentrating on retrieving their figure.

On the other, the same magazines run photographs of celeb mums four weeks or eight weeks or twelve weeks after they gave birth, with captions archly commenting on "the curves" they "haven't managed to shed" yet.

Or commenting approvingly on how they have streamlined those curves or shed the extra pounds. One way or the other, the messages are clear.

dissected

Firstly, if you are female and famous, you are also fair game. You can expect your body to be discussed, dissected and displayed as if you were dead meat on a hook.

Secondly, if you are female, famous and a mother, your shape is more important than your talent or professional ability. Your shape is important to the point of wiping out just how good you are in your professional life.

Thirdly, there's no get-out clause. The rules apply to Mila Kunas, Drew Barrymore or Kate Winslet. Never mind the movies you have starred in, the performances you have given or the films you have produced or directed: what we'll concentrate on is the size of your waist or absence thereof.

Kate Winslet has delivered performances on-screen unequalled by any actor of her generation.

She has the potential to be the next Meryl Streep. Yet, from the outset, she has found herself judged on what she weighs rather more often than on the totality of her work.

blackmail

Like any reasonably open personality, she has contributed to this demeaning portrayal of herself.

She has always done these lovely straightforward things like serving bangers and mash at her first wedding breakfast.

Not so long afterwards, she announced that she was on some frankly peculiar diet that was going to solve - forever - the weight problem that dogged her during Titanic, when she gained and lost pounds every week during shooting, driving the wardrobe people and the director mad with how different she looked at different times during the shoot.

Now, however, like Drew Barrymore, she's come out firmly against the fat-shaming and media blackmail.

Winslet says she simply doesn't believe those stories of effortless weight loss, post-birth.

Let's hope she sticks with that line. Her honesty could be helpful to thousands of young non-celeb mothers, worldwide.

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