Can a mom ever catch a break? I guess not! Just a couple of weeks after former US Weekly editor Janice Min wrote in a New York Times piece that new moms face too much pressure about their weight, celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson told DuJour magazine that she doesn't think pregnancy is an excuse to let yourself go.
"A lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to let their bodies go, and that's the worst thing," she said. "I've seen so many women come to me with disaster bodies that have gone through hell, or they've come to me years later and said, 'Oh, my body is like this because I have three kids.'"
Anderson herself has kids. In fact, this May, she gave birth to a daughter, Penelope, and pointed out that she's lost almost all the baby weight since then.
As I read her comments, two things came to mind: First, Anderson is a celebrity trainer. That means that most, if not all, of her clients have countless resources dedicated solely to getting back in shape after having a baby—resources that the rest of us don't have; and second, her comments indicate that losing baby weight immediately is a priority for everyone—and that if it's not, it should be. While I'm sure she had the best of intentions, I felt her comments to be very tone deaf. To explore this issue further, I called SHAPE fitness editor-at-large and celebrity trainer Jay Cardiello (you can read his blogs here) and asked for his perspective.
"Tracy is a great trainer who's helped many women with her programs and DVDs," Cardiello says. "I wish her all the best, but she's doing herself a disservice by making comments like that. Why? Because Tracy was talking at women, not to them."
Obviously, most people don't have the kind of resources that Anderson has at her disposal. "As a fitness professional, Tracy is at a huge advantage over the average person," he says. "So am I, so is my wife (who's a professional chef), and so are celebrities who have trainers and nutritionists who are entirely dedicated to them. That's not accessible to most people."
"Her job isn't to say, 'Oh, well this worked for me and it will work for you,'" he continues. "It's to afford people the best fitness and diet plan possible with the resources they have available."
Moreover, pregnancy can be very hard on the body, and everyone's experience will be unique. Cardiello and his wife just celebrated the birth of their first child (check out a picture of baby Max here!), and though he's been along for his wife's weight-loss journey, he says they're trying to put the emphasis on celebrating their new son, not on weight.
"People do the best they can," he says. "Our parents before us did the best they can with what they had. There are so many complications. The single mom or the woman working 40 to 60 hours a week to put food on the table can't dedicate all her time to exercising, and it's kind of a put-down to say that she should or that her body's a 'disaster' if she doesn't."
It's important to note that Anderson later back-pedaled and admitted that she too has struggled with losing weight throughout her three pregnancies, saying, "For 13 years I’ve been jumping around, dancing at such high levels all over the world and with no sleep for multiple hours a day. I thought, ‘Please, I can bust out an hour of dance aerobics, no problem.’ Wrong!"
Unfortunately, the damage was done. As a public figure, Anderson shouldn't be surprised she caught so much flak.
"The problem is that too much was said at a subjective level," Cardiello says. "As a professional and public figure, you can't say things like that while ignoring the the huge advantage you have over most people."