These days, I weigh 130 pounds, stand 5’2″ tall and wear a size 4. That probably makes me medium sized, but since I once weighed over 200 pounds, I alternate between thinking of myself as a “former fat girl” and just being flat out shocked by the thin person who stares back at me in the mirror. For me, weight loss came when I got off the decade long diet merry-go-round, threw out the tasteless containers of fat-free yogurt, not to mention the remnants of attempting Weight Watchers three or four times, and began living again.
Very few people take control of their eating habits the way that I did though, which is why it is unsurprising that in addition to being vaunted as a special time in the spotlight, pregnancy is also seen as a nine month all-you-can-eat buffet. Of course, as women who have given birth can attest, it is not a buffet that is without consequences; it is the rare woman who is able to return her body to its pre-pregnancy form. What if you could get the guilt-free pass on eating reasonable portions without having to, you know, actually get knocked up?
The latest in a long line of increasingly creepy diet trends is a twist on pregnancy’s guilt free smorgasbord, using hCG, (human chorionic gonadotropin), a fertility treatment to suppress women’s appetites. One recent article quoted women claiming that they were able to get by on as few as 500 calories a day. The Food & Drug Administration has consistently denied any weight loss effects, but that has not stopped thousands of women from spending gross amounts of money on injections that will allow them to starve themselves in the name of beauty.
Meanwhile, many actual pregnant women glory in using the excuse that they are “eating for two” to finally set aside years of disciplined diet and exercise in favor of giving in to cravings during their pregnancy. Although the different potential downsides of maternal obesity during pregnancy have been well documented, ranging from gestational diabetes to Graves’ disease, this does not seem to stop many women from embracing their pregnancy as an opportunity to eat as much as they please. For the first time since they hit puberty, they can eat without fear of judgment.
The mainstream media lauds pregnant women as sexy, beautiful or otherwise praise worthy. One result of this inability to criticize anything pregnant women do is that women who become pregnant while at a “normal” weight are likely to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, while a woman who is already overweight will gain just 15 to 25 pounds. Statistics like that reinforce the stereotype that overweight women are already shoving everything in sight into their mouths, and perhaps they are. Or, maybe, like me, they would rather have a healthy relationship with food than be super thin while injecting themselves with expensive and potentially dangerous hormones like hCG.