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April 27, 2010

I Get You, Jillian Michaels

NBC Universal Summer Press Day
I make no secret of the fact that I am a fan of Jillian Michaels. Her bad-ass self shouting that she wants me to feel like I am going to die on her 30-Day Shred dvd is just the motivation that I need to get through that intense, sweaty workout. Partnered with Bob Harper on the Biggest Loser, she drives home the point that there is no one easy way to lose weight and that one has to work hard to get the results they seek. So it would go without saying that I was excited to see her on the cover of the latest issue of Women's Health and dove right into there.

There has been much buzz on the interwebs and twitterverse about that interview especially her statement to not have children. Yet again, it seems a celebrity puts it out there that having babies will ruin their bodies. Yet again we moms are upset over such selfish statements.

But, in this case at least, I get it. I get what Jillian tried to say. True, it could have been phrased more delicately so as not to insult those of us who have been pregnant...numerous times...or those of us who have adopted. But Jillian is not a mother. How could she possibly know how her statements would sound to us, the moms?

In the interview, Jillian shares her own personal battles with obesity and weight loss and her own skewed body image issues. She opens up, in the interview, that she recognizes that she is most likely not in a place to accept the dramatic changes that pregnancy would bring to her body. Face it, pregnancy does wreak havoc on our bodies. Our breasts, our bellies, our hips, our thighs, our skin, our feet, even our hair will never be the same after such dramatic changes that take place in a very short 180 day period. Some of us embrace these changes, many of us moan and groan over these changes lamenting for our pre-pregnant, carefree selves. But then we see the result of our pregnancies, our beautiful children and, well, we get over it all...sort of...of course we do. It seems that Jillian has put enough thought into this to realize that she might not be so accepting of these physical changes. She accepts her issues with her own body image to realize that perhaps pregnancy and childbirth is not for her.

What makes her any different from anyone else we know who has consciously chosen to not have children? The way I see it, nothing.

Years ago, when I was preparing to give birth to my 3rd child, my precocious 6 year old first born declared that she wanted to be with me in the delivery room when her baby sister was born. My OB had no problem with her request. In fact, he encouraged it provided that my daughter have her own support person other than her father. The way he saw it was my husband was there to support me during labor and would be/should be focused on meeting my needs rather than worrying about his daughter's need to take a potty break or get a snack or to just get out of the delivery room. I explained this to a friend of mine after my darling daughter excitedly shared with her that she was going to be with me. My friend immediately offered herself up for the job. Why not? She was a close friend of mine. She doted on my daughter like a favorite aunt. She was perfect for the job. Of course some in our circle of friends wondered why she would want to do this. After all, she was child-less by choice. Yet here she was offering to basically baby-sit my child and witness my other child come into this world. Isn't it weird that someone like her who doesn't like kids would offer to do something like this, they questioned. But the fact of the matter was she did like kids. She loved my kids. She just happened to chose not to have babies herself.Yet she was judged. She was viewed by many to be selfish. Clearly something was wrong with her choice it would seem.

But I found that there wasn't. Taking the time to get her know her more intimately (and after having her witness a baby coming out of my body how could we not) I came to realize that her decision came from her own struggles with living with a painful auto-immune disorder as well as her career in theatrical arts.It wasn't that she didn't love children. It was the fact that she wondered, worried and came to realize that her physical self most likely could not give what a child would demand and deserve. I can't help but to applaud her choice and realization that a child deserves so much. Sixteen years later, I know that her choice was the right one for her. She and her husband continue to live and love their life, their extended family and their friends with their whole hearts and with no regrets.

So to Jillian I say, good for you for taking the time to make a thoughtful, conscious choice. You don't have to defend it so much here with me. Just keep on doing what you do. As for me, I will do the same.

This is a 50-something Moms Blog original post. Laura Scarborough writes about her juggling adventures including her loving to hate Jillian Michaels while doing the 30-Day Shred over at Adventures In Juggling.

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