Between the Kardashian Collapse and Gwyneth’s proclamation (“Losing the baby weight was the hardest thing I ever did“) I am starting to worry that there is something seriously wrong with us.
I know we’re all obsessed with skinniness and everything, but the idea that there should be a return to not just form, but OPTIMAL form virtually immediately after childbirth is a whole new level of insanity. Celebrity trainer/miracle worker Tracy Anderson seems to be at the crux of this fitness hyperdrive. I’ve been hearing about her purported magic for awhile, but Gwyneth’s pitch inspired me to do some more investigating…
I found an article on Anderson in Playground, a new magazine from the publishers of The New York Observer (and about as good a window into the horrors of NYC parenting as you’re ever likely to find). It was a little hard to read the piece, mostly because it was sending me reeling back and forth from total disgust to urgent desire to call Anderson and sign up for a session.
Anderson, a dancer by training, gained 60 pounds when she was pregnant, but was determined to make her body “20 times better after pregnancy than
before”. She’s now a size 0, having downsized from a 6. (Using Tracy’s formula, each dress size translates to a multiple of -6.666666666666667 in quality, should you ever need to quantify your physique). She claims she transformed herself in six weeks after her child’s birth.
Tracy’s specialty is accessory muscles, which are the key to her ultimate goal of “tininess”. She has an eye for the minutae of musculature, taking women with bodies that are simply “great”, like Gwyneth’s, to “perfect”. Pregnancy takes a huge toll on women’s bodies, according to Anderson, and not just in the obvious ways. Even fit women suffer a certain sag and drag afterwards, whether they know it or not, in places they may never have even thought about before: “The connection of the torso to the butt doesn’t look as good as it used to.”
To which I say: So what??
I ran into a friend yesterday, a gorgeous, successful actor who had a baby three months ago. I was on my way to the gym and she was lamenting her total lack of exercise. I complemented her, honestly, on how great she looked:curvy and sexy and warm and motherly. Different than usual, but no less beautiful. I was thinking about her after delving into Tracy Anderson’s obsession with perfection.
Maybe the postpartum “look” is actually supposed to be different. Maybe our bodies are trying to send a message: I’m a new mom; I’m special. I’ve been through something major. I’m still recovering. I have a lot on my plate. I might need support. Making your body look like nothing’s happened, in addition to being a gargantuan effort, might be sending the wrong signals.
Anderson’s method is now available on DVD, but she does acknowledge that the 3000 moves it incorporates might be difficult for non-dancers. Even Gwyneth couldn’t get the hang of it without a lot of coaching. Which might explain why she thought it was the hardest thing she’s ever done. And might suggest that aiming for “perfect” is working a little too hard.
Photo: Reclining Mother and Child (Paula Modersohn-Becker)