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Postpartum Reflection

My youngest daughter just turned 1, and the well of excuses full of why I haven't lost all the baby weight has officially run dry. But while my weight fluctuation is no one's fault but mine, I often wonder if my poor self-esteem—whenever I step onto the scale—is bigger than me (and the number I look down at).

I, like most of the world, have a mild-to-moderate addiction to celebrity porn (not Kim Kardashian sex tape porn, but Us Weekly and Radar Online porn). I check out Hollywood gossip websites almost as much as I check out Facebook, which is roughly equivalent to every 29th breath, give or take the gossip of the day. For example, if Lindsay Lohan skips out on another hotel bill or gets questioned in the case of another missing necklace, I'll check the Hollywood sites more often; if a Facebook friend is taking her annual summer vacation in Nantucket and posting photos of her lobster roll and daily seashell take, that usually wins out.

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It seems like my celebrity obsession has become even more obsessive-y as stars around my age have gotten pregnant and had kids, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Garner. But as they give birth and slim down faster than you can say "Award Show Season," I feel like I'm going nowhere but up a pants-size.

Granted, it's not my job to be fabulously thin, and my job is actually to watch my kids while working from home full time, but it can be hard to separate what famous others look like from the infamous reflection in my mirror.

There's nothing normal about getting whipped back into shape hours after birth because you're getting paid millions.

It hasn't helped, either, that celebrity magazines have created an entire industry on attempting to normalize the rich, famous and incredibly thin ("Stars! They're Just Like Us!").

Except there's nothing normal at all about getting whipped back into shape hours after birth because you're getting paid millions to star in the next blockbuster franchise. And there's nothing normal about having an army of trainers, chefs, nannies, assistants and hair stylists and make-up artists at the ready to help you while also watching your kids so you can look your best when getting coffee on the way to Pilates.

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Janice Min, a former editor of Us Weekly, wrote in The New York Times a few weeks ago about how the game she created won't let her play anymore. Which is to say, she just gave birth and didn't get right back into shape, and she feels bad about it because she's now also faced with magazine photos of postpartum celebrities who look like they gave birth through their pinky, because the rest of their body appears untouched.

Jessica Simpson has famously struggled with her weight—before she was pregnant, while she was pregnant and now that she's given birth—but she has the benefit of a multi-million-dollar carrot from Weight Watchers dangling in front of her as incentive to lose the baby weight. I'm pretty sure if her weight loss is a success, it's meant to inspire moms like me. However, the only thing it inspires in me is more defeat about how no one would ever pay me a million bucks to lose weight, because no one really cares other than me.

Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels ended up apologizing to the parents she coached with little love and sympathy on NBC's The Biggest Loser, saying that when she became a mom she finally realized she had been projecting unrealistic expectations on others struggling to find a balance between their families and their weight issues.

"I have yet to figure out how to take care of myself right now," Michaels said. "Telling moms, 'You need to put yourself first?' It's impossible to put yourself first when you're a mom."

Tracy Anderson, who has helped stars like Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow get in tip-top shade, recently had her second baby and said she lost all but 10 of her pregnancy pounds in six weeks. While she appears to think weight gain in pregnancy is a choice—"A lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to let their bodies go, and that's the worst thing," Anderson says in the September issue of DuJour magazine—she also recognizes from her own struggle to lose weight after her first pregnancy that it can be just that: a struggle.

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It's particularly difficult when you don't have the staff to help you get back to fighting weight, or when it isn't your job to look good or help other people look good.

It just feels ignorant and irresponsible to have an entire industry designed to make regular moms feel like losing weight is as easy as 1-2-3 (on a Weight Watchers plan or using an at-home exercise DVD), and another one showing us endless pictures of a select-and-fabulous few looking great postpartum. When people like Jessica Simpson and Tracy Anderson talk about how empowering it is to lose weight after a baby, it can actually be very discouraging if you're entering the battle of the bulge with other battles, too—like day care, time and money.

While glossy celebrity magazines and websites are fun, sometimes the fun they're supposed to be offering can do more harm than entertain. Which pretty much makes them no fun at all.

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