Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai branded ‘a disgrace’ over baby weight
From hearing people compliment your new bundle of joy to witnessing your child's first words, giggles and steps, there's so many things to make women smile in the first year of the motherhood.
One thing that’s unlikely to cheer you up during a day of nappy-changing, feeding and screaming, is reading headlines about how your choice to prioritise your new arrival over shedding your baby weight makes you a disgrace to your country.
But that’s just what Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai has experienced recently. The former Miss World, who’s married to the son of one of Indian’s best loved stars, found herself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as commentators lambasted her for letting her fans down.
One website even posted a video of the star looking less than her usual svelte self, flicking between photographs of pre-birth and now. However, Abu Dhabi-based advertising executive Sonam T is disgusted by the star’s treatment.
She says: “It’s one thing if she’s being criticised for putting on weight as a model or actress, but for being a mum?
“Her weight isn’t betraying anyone and isn’t anyone’s business unless she’s starring in their movie or endorsing their brands. Frankly, it’s a positive message to all the real everyday mums who are often intimidated by celebs who manage to lose all the baby weight instantly and look so glamourous.
“It’s hard enough dealing with all the changes in your body and looking after a newborn baby so to make new mum’s - celeb or otherwise - feel awful about their weight it just wrong.
“Being healthy is more important. I think it’s great she’s not being self-obsessed and fixating on her weight and is instead focusing on her health and her baby like she should be!” Forget focusing on Aishwarya’s few extra kilos, says Dubai-based doctor Shereen Habib. Instead look at how she’s coping with her new responsibilities.
“I think it’s ridiculous that we put all this emphasis on a woman’s weight instead of looking at whether she’s happy or not,” said Dr Habib. “The issues we should be looking at are things like post-natal depression. It’s really not going to help her if she’s being insulted in the press.
“Every woman is different. it took me ages to lose weight after my first baby and with the subsequent baby I had no problem at all. I think with the first baby, women struggle because there’s a big shift in their hormones and physiology so often with first baby it’s more of a struggle to lose the weight.
“Some people say breast feeding helps them lose the weight, and we always advocate breast feeding as being good for the baby and the mother’s health, but it’s not always the case that it helps you lose weight.
“A lot of women find they feel incredibly hungry all the time and end up eating more calories than they actually need. Your body makes certain demands on you when you become a mother. With the breast feeding, the physiology and all the other changes you do need a slightly increased calorie intake.”
With some of Rai’s critics suggesting the star should follow the example of celebs like Victoria Beckham, who went back to a size zero just weeks after delivery, Dr Habib says it’s important to remember all women are different. She also says as the mum of a six-month-old baby, Aishwarya probably has more on her mind than achieving a six pack.
She adds: “The last thing on your mind when you’re up all night with a crying baby is losing weight and it’s an unrealistic demand to say women should lose weight fast.
“If you have a personal trainer, a chef, assistants, fine, maybe it’s easier to lose weight but normal women struggle to lose baby weight. It’s an unhealthy expectation for women to snap back into shape. Its ridiculous.”
Indian expat and mum of one, Ruchi Kapoor says she can’t understand the responsibility being heaped on the Bollywood beauty. Kapoor says: “How can anybody be betraying their country or fans for failing to lose weight?
“Why is it such a big issue? It’s her life and as long as she is happy being a mum and not doing a movie, why does it matter? It’s her call.” Dr Habib has a no-nonsense piece of final advice for anyone out to slate Aishwarya - or indeed any mums who opt to enjoy motherhood rather than shaping up immediately.
“Lay off her and lay off all other normal women as well!”