(The Root) — Fresh from my "Give me a break" file: Superstar Beyoncé recently announced that she's lost 60 pounds since giving birth to her baby girl, Blue Ivy, with music-mogul husband Jay-Z. My initial thought upon reading this announcement was "Who cares?" followed quickly by "Please stop the lies."
Typically, I don't get invested in pop stars and their shenanigans, but I've seen what 60 pounds looks like on a pregnant woman, and I have to say that photos of the reigning queen of pop during her pregnancy didn't look as if she'd put on that whopping amount of extra weight. (Jessica Simpson, on the other hand, certainly seemed as if she gained at least that much during her pregnancy, and unlike Mrs. Carter, she was not wearing skinny jeans two weeks after giving birth.)
I'm not one of the conspiracy theorists who believe that Beyoncé was never pregnant, but I am a woman who lives in the real world who does not believe that she gained 60 pounds. I also know that pregnancy is not easy for women in general. Plus, there's the pressure of having to lose the baby weight while trying to adjust to caring for a new person in the family.
In addition to the very real challenge of dealing with another human being literally taking over your body, mothers have to confront the challenge of "getting your body back." How many women do you know who can't get rid of their protruding midsection or jiggly thighs no matter what amount of working out or high-protein, low-carb dieting they try? Pregnancy changes women's bodies, and producing life should warrant giving women a break in terms of losing weight quickly after they've given birth.
The pressure on women to get pregnant and look the same afterward is ridiculous. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and even Simpson feed into this illogical nonsense by publicly announcing their quick weight-loss schemes in order to get back to work. These women can afford teams of people to put them back together post-pregnancy and should stop trying to act as if they are struggling in the same way that the average Josetta is struggling to lose the weight.
Women should have time to bond with their babies without worrying about being called a "fat ass" by relatives, so-called friends, co-workers and society at large. Celebrities have the opportunity to use their powers for good and help heal body-image issues over which women struggle. Instead they get on the bandwagon, beating themselves up in the process, in order to demonstrate that they are superwomen.
The only thing worse than pretending to be a superwoman is lying about the details of your pregnancy in a pathetic attempt to maintain that facade. At best Beyoncé could be stretching the truth about how much weight she gained, and at worst she might be outright lying. If she's done either, that is truly tragic, given that there are women and girls watching and modeling themselves after her.
We get it: Beyoncé is a beautiful, talented and accomplished superstar who can achieve almost anything she desires. If Beyoncé and company insist on hitting us over the head with her every move, can there at least be the appearance of truth in some of it — like the pregnancy- and post-pregnancy-weight part?
Women, including those who are celebrities, need to stop being complicit in their own oppression. Continuing to celebrate obsessive fitness behaviors and follow arguably dangerous diets in pursuit of the perfect post-pregnancy body only feeds the body-image hang-ups of adoring fans and the bank accounts of attention-driven celebrities. That is the only thing that is real about this celebrated announcement.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., a media scholar, is digital editor in chief at Grady Newsource and a faculty member of the Cox Institute of Journalism, Innovation, Management & Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is founder and editor in chief of the award-winning news blog the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter here or here.