Pregorexia and Why the Paparazzi Should Step Down

Pregorexia and Why the Paparazzi Should Step Down
| Mind & Body > Women’s Health

According to academic statistics and the 2011 census, over 2 million UK women could be pregorexic. Why isn’t this being flagged on a public national level?

Recently, I was listening to the news (but not really paying attention) when I heard them mention ‘pregorexia‘. It’s not something I’d ever heard of before, so I thought I’d check it out.

Lioness still carries a bit of baby weight post birth. Lioness is not bothered. Raise it with lioness and she will eat your face. Your whole face. Lioness will eat your face and not count the calories. LIONESS WINS.

University College London conducted a study in March which found that 1 in 14 pregnant women have an eating disorder. Let’s put that in context. At the 2011 census there were 28.5m women in England and Wales. Using the UCL statistic, that could mean 2,034,899 women are ‘pregorexic’. Nicknamed ‘pregorexia’, the condition is dangerous for both mother and child. Not eating sufficiently can cause the baby to be born much smaller. This creates health problems such as diabetes in later life. It has also been associated with a number of mental health issues.

What’s most alarming was that this wasn’t an entirely new study. It was a meta-analysis of existing literature on anorexia and pregnancy. Basically, it was a study of all the other research out there. Why has it taken so long for this to be noticed? If there’s already enough research to bring together and analyse, why hasn’t the issue been flagged up on a public national level?

There’s no black and white answer for why people become anorexic. No two people who experience it are the same. Far too often these men and women are simply labelled ‘vain’ or ‘crazy’. Hundreds of different things are blamed, from the individual, to society, to the media. Blaming the media for any problem is a rather simplistic explanation. It creates a ‘moral panic‘, like when everyone freaks out that violent videogames ‘make’ kids into mini Hitmen. I also think it’s a little insulting to our intelligence. Assuming everyone absorbs what they see as correct and desirable without question is just plain rude. It’s known as Hypodermic Needle theory. It’s the idea we passively absorb messages in media, as if it’s being pumped in through a big syringe. I like to think we’re all a bit smarter than that.

Hypodermic Needle theory hasn’t held much credibility since the 1930s. I don’t believe the media causes anything. But I do believe there’s a responsibility to provide balance. If you bought a women’s magazine right now, I’d bet my life savings there’s a story about a celebrity looking thinner than pre-pregnancy, usually only a few weeks or months after giving birth. Until magazines ask us what pictures we want to see (yeah right) or until we make enough noise we’ll keep seeing them. The media industry takes a while to change.

Just remember, these pictures aren’t normal and they’re rarely healthy or achievable. Putting yourself through gruelling workouts so soon after giving birth is unlikely to be good for you. Celebrities might have the time and money and the professional support to do that, but most women don’t. No-one’s going to look at you and think “It’s been two months, and she’s still got all that baby weight, goodness she’s let herself go”. If anyone you know does think like that, you should tell them where to stick it.

Enjoy time with your newborn. So what if you’re a different shape than you used to be? You’ve just been through a life-changing experience, and you have a body that shows it. That’s not a bad thing. If you’re worried about your weight during or after pregnancy PLEASE speak to your GP. Someone with training and experience, not someone who hides in bushes and stalks celebrities for a living.

No reflection on Christina. It’s just that stuff like this keeps making the front page in women’s magazines and it really doesn’t need to. Maybe it would be more useful if pregorexia made the front page of national newspapers instead.

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