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Hayden Panettiere, Your Pregnancy Weight Isn't 'Muscle'

Photograph by Instagram

Allow me to start by saying that I love Hayden Panettiere. I think she’s adorable and she seems like one of those rare genuine actresses who marches to the beat of her own drum. Plus, I’ve always admired her athletic shape — she seems to defy the stick-thin ideal of Hollywood with a healthy and strong figure.

But when she tried to blame her 40-pound weight gain so far during her pregnancy on that cute little athletic figure of hers, I think she went a bit too far.

While discussing her weight gain with "Hello!" magazine, Panettiere noted, "I’m still quite muscular, so if you're running around carrying 40 pounds of extra weight, you're going to build extra muscle.”

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I have to admit, when I read that comment, I actually chortled out loud. Because, really, Hayden? You want to us to believe that you’ve gained more than the “recommended” amount of weight a woman should gain during pregnancy because it’s muscle?

Listen, I’ve been pregnant four times and each time, I put on between 30 and 50 pounds, and let me tell you what — not a pound of that was because I was building muscle by hefting around my giant belly. In my dreams. I think it’s actually quite ridiculous that Hayden would feel she has to defend what is a normal weight gain for many women during pregnancy with an absurd justification that it’s just extra muscle.

And really, comments like that are doing a disservice to pregnant women everywhere. While I applaud Hayden for not hiding her weight gain (although it’s really none of our business), if you’re going to talk about it, at least be honest.

The truth is ladies, it is normal to pack on the pounds during pregnancy from actual fat.

Yes, I said "fat."

Contrary to the image that Hollywood would like to portray of pregnancy as a time when a woman simply gains an adorable-looking cute little basketball tummy and stays skinny and fabulous everywhere else in her body, that’s not always how the basic biology of growing another human being works.

Your body is doing an amazing job of providing for your baby and that is a truly beautiful sight to behold.

A woman’s body is designed to pack on extra weight during pregnancy — in the form of fat — to ensure that she and her baby don’t starve to death. It’s pretty simple, actually. Woman grows baby, nature helps to ensure that they have enough reserves to both survive by altering her body’s ability to store fat, which is the best long-term investment for fuel.

Makes sense, right? (This theory, by the way, is also why I’m convinced that the whole “breastfeeding helps you lose weight” theory is complete crap. I never lose weight until I stop breastfeeding — when I’m nursing, my body holds on to every last pound as if that layer of fat means the difference between life and death. Which, when you think about it in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it very well could have.)

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So, Hayden, I’m not buying your theory that you’ve gained 40 pounds of pregnancy “muscle.” And you shouldn’t either, because you know what? Your body is doing an amazing job of providing for your baby and that is a truly beautiful sight to behold.

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