We have a problem, and we need to talk. We’ve been working out together for a while now. You’re in those leggings with the cool see-through streaks in them. I’m in the leggings with actual holes in them. You are kind. You say hi to the elderly woman on the treadmill. And you always wipe down the elliptical machine. ALWAYS.
I like you, #FitMom. I bet you’re an amazing mother and a good friend. But I don’t always love what you’re doing. And I’m not talking about the squats.
I’m talking about the hashtag.
You know the one.
It’s right there underneath the snapshot you just posted of your bare belly on instagram:
#fitmom #noexcuses #mombod #fitspo
You look good. And you know it. And the world knows.
You’re not trying to mom shame. But as anyone who has ever potty trained a kid knows, accidents happen. You make physical fitness a priority in your life, and you are proud of the work that you’ve done. You dang well should be. The #fitmom thing is supposed to inspire other mothers to get active. It’s supposed to be empowering. But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t always, at least not for everyone. There may be something better to offer mothers in a post partum space.
I could go on about the fact that we talk too much about women’s bodies already. I could say that focusing on post-partum fitness shifts the focus away from overall postpartum wellness. Or I could talk about the fact that if I posted a snippy picture of myself breastfeeding with a passive aggressive #noexcuses after it I’d be mobbed by a sea of (rightfully!) angry women. But I won’t. Instead, I’d rather just help you out.
If it’s empowerment you want, let’s talk about it.
You do a lot of empowering stuff as a mother. But sit-ups aren’t one of them.
You had a baby a little over a year ago. So did I. Actually, I had two babies—but who’s counting?! (Spoiler alert: my vagina is definitely counting.)
I know the year you’ve had. I am in it with you, sister. It has been a long, unforgiving slog in the mud.
You haven’t slept more than three hours in a row since the beginning of your third trimester.
Your breasts look like part of a cheap Halloween costume that comes in a plastic bag.
You might be depressed.
Some days, you get to the gym. Most days, you live hour-by-hour, over-caffeinating, under-delivering, and wondering if you’re doing any of it right. You are, by the way. You’re doing great.
My biggest problem isn’t with what “#fitmom” says. My problem is with what it neglects to say. It neglects all of the truly inspiring stuff.
Motherhood is the workout of a lifetime, and it changes you a heck of a lot more than Zumba does. A beautiful and miraculous transformation has taken place here, but it isn’t the one you’re capturing with your selfie-stick by the free weights.
Your brightest glory isn’t in your biceps.
It is in your whole body mysteriously rising up in the middle of the night before the baby even starts crying.
It is in knowing just the right way to bounce him.
And it is in the loneliness—and in the mightiest flashes of joy.
And, of course, it is taking time to practice self-care. Whatever that looks like.
Celebrate that amazing body of yours. But if empowerment is really what you’re after? Celebrate it for all the real work it has done. Celebrate being a #goodmom and a #healthymama instead of just a #fitmom. Sure, strong arms are nice. But you’re just as good at giving hugs and rocking little ones to sleep as you are at lifting. Don’t forget to revel in that too.