REALLY, Jillian?

Let it be known up front that I love Jillian Michaels.

I think she is an amazing inspiration — given her own past history with weight issues and her ability to kick the crap out of anyone on The Biggest Loser — all the while empowering the show’s contestants to recognize that the potential for change is within them if they’re willing to tap into it.

I’ve learned a lot from her, read lots of things she’s written, and am a loyal30-Day Shred fan.

And whether you love or loathe her persona, Jillian is no doubt excellent at what she does.

Shas cultivated an entire brand identity and become synonymous with health/wellness, serving as the Oprah (if you will) of the health/wellness sphere.

(I often wonder if she’s gotten too big/has been straying from her brand, what with the marketing of her weight loss supplements, which just seems counter-intuitive to what Jillian often preaches … JMO).

Anyway, when I read her cover story in Women’s Health at the gym this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable at what I heard her say towards the end of the piece.

(Women’s Health, May 2010 issue) … She also hopes to have kids someday, saying, “I’m going to adopt.” One of the reasons: Jillian admits to having an aversion to pregnancy, the result of being an overweight kid. “I can’t handle doing that to my body,” she explains. “Also, when you rescue something, it’s like rescuing a part of yourself.”

Adoption is a beautiful thing; there’s absolutely nothing to dispute about that and I think it’s wonderful she’s considering adoption. And if she’d just left it at “I’d love to adopt,” this post would serve no purpose and I wouldn’t be riled up.

The thing is, I don’t know about you, but the second part of her comment (which I put in bold text) is what rubbed me the wrong way.

While some might applaud her for her honesty (it’s true: pregnancy isn’t for everyone and that’s perfectly OK) … her reasoning is exactly what so many women who struggle with body image issues fear — and she’s laying it right there on the table for the world to see!

It seems to me like this is a tremendous mixed-message she’s sending.

If she’s truly gotten over her own food and weight issues and has the know-how to transform her body (and the bodies of hundreds of men and women) … then isn’t that hypocritical to say that her weight history is what keeps her from experiencing pregnancy herself?

Or should we thank her for her honesty of saying, “I’m not perfect and I don’t want to put my body through pregnancy?”

And if we do accept her honesty, what does that say about us as a society? Women like Jillian now are too afraid of gaining weight during pregnancy, and that’s acceptable?

I’ve never been pregnant, but hope to be a mom in the next few years. I’m the first to admit the thought of pregnancy weight gain (i.e., being in control of your body) is frightening. Hell, it can be frightening for women who never had weight issues to begin with!

Complicating this is the fact that we see unrealistic examples of post-pregnancy bodies in the media — and I’m not here to defend them.

But I’d like to think that with the right tools and mindset, all women (including Jillian!) are capable of losing baby weight in a healthy manner — it just will likely take time and effort.

To help get me in the right mind-set, I read an amazing book on body image and pregnancy co-written by Claire Mysko (a former WATRD contributor) called Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?

It’s a great read for anyone thinking of becoming a mom, or who is pregnant — and I’m thinking Jillian might benefit from picking up Claire’s book …

Whether she realizes it or not, she IS a role model and women do look up to her. Her explanation in that cover story only seeks to reaffirm what many women genuinely feel … and does nothing to change the status quo of an unhealthy obsession with our bodies and thinness.

What about you? What do you make of Jillian’s statement? Is she just being honest, or do you think it’s hypocritical?

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15 thoughts on “REALLY, Jillian?

  1. As much as I don’t like the idea that the concept of not wanting to gain weight with pregnancy exists I applaud Jillian for admiting her flaw there and that she would rather adopt. It shows she is just as human as the rest of us when she normally seems like she has it all together.

    I can’t have kids and will be adopting but I am happy that now that I have lost all the weight and transformed my body that I won’t be gaining the weight back with a pregnancy. That’s not why I’m adopting but it is a nice perk.

  2. I always try to give celebrities the benefit of the doubt in those interviews because magazines like Women’s Health aren’t exactly known for stellar reporting. But given that she did say & mean that — I feel sorry for her. Pregnancy and childbirth are wonderful experiences, and I am so sorry for anyone who chooses to miss out on them simply because they don’t want to gain the weight. That said, adoption is a wonderful thing, too. 🙂

  3. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but so is pregnancy and child birth. I admit that the aftermath of pregnancy was hard for me, but it’s because I didn’t take care of myself my first pregnancy.

    I learned my mistake the first time around and my 2nd pregnancy was much better on my body. It is possible to control your weight gain and level of activity during pregnancy, it is possible to get back in shape after. You would think someone like Jillian would know this. This is very disappointing to me.

    Although yes sometimes, I struggle with the aftermath, the product, my 2 children are the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. Totally worth everything my body has been through, plus seeing the way they look at me and love me just the way I am. Has helped me to love myself the same way.

  4. That’s really upsetting, IMO. I agree with your assessment in that there are so many people who would hang on her every word and she’s basically saying pregnancy will screw her over hard-earned body. I’m not going to lie that it is hard to get your body back after having a baby (or three) but it is possible and its with Jillian’s normal approach.

    I’m definitely NOT against adoption. I just think her attaching it to her weight is sending the wrong message.

  5. You know, she’s obviously not over her body issues fully… but that’s okay. She doesn’t need to be. And we can’t demand that she be over her body issues just so she can be some sort of leader to us. She’s just human. It’d be nice to know that she RECOGNIZES that she’s not over her body issues. It’d be nice to know that she WANTS to be able to deal with a pregnant body – so that she’s not adopting just for body image reasons. But, it is what it is. Such is life. And sounds like Jillian feels a lot like a lot of us in terms of dealing with changing, expanding bodies. Oh well.

  6. Thanks so much for this post. I read “Does this Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat” too…quite enjoyed it!

    It’s sad to hear Jillian talk about not wanting biological kids because of the effects of pregnancy on the body. (Though admittedly sometimes I look at her and other “ripped” people and wonder if they ovulate regularly in the first place, you know? Is that bad to say?)

    I am SO looking forward to conceiving, even if it means baby weight and a bit of a different body for the rest of my life. Besides, when a baby comes, I doubt I’ll have an excess amount of time to obsess over my body the way I do now.

  7. I think that pregnancy and childbirth are awesome and amazing. And yes, one can lose the weight easily . . . but my body will never be the same as it was before pregnancy. I have stretch marks and a belly pooch that won’t go away no matter what. I’m ok with that, but a lot of women might not be. I guess it’s good to know oneself.

  8. Thanks for all the insightful comments, everyone! As women, we can choose to have/not have children … I just think her reasoning is harmful for some women to read — especially since she’s certainly not alone in it.

    I’ve also concluded I don’t think food issues ever truly “Go Away” but rather persist in some manifestation or another, as evidenced by her comment.

  9. I think she could have put it in a better way, but at least she was honest that the roots were in her childhood weight issues.

    I have never liked or wanted kids personally. But it always struck me as horrible and repugnant that women had to endure having this foreign CREATURE invading their bodies. To me, to carry a child would be a total violation of my autonomy over my own body. The whole idea of pregnancy just creeps me out.

    Someday, I hope they will be able to have technology so babies can be grown outside bodies…. It totally reminds me of Alien to have something take over your body…. I don’t blame her for not wanting to get pregnant. I don’t really understand why anyone would want to be, other than wanting the end result.

  10. She was just brutally honest, as many women will never have to courage to be. I would never say this to anyone, because I know it is not considered socially acceptable, but I find the idea of me having a pregnant belly simply repulsive. I know being pregnant is natural, but some people do find them repulsive and unattractive, and some women would rather die than look like that.
    I have issues, I know, but I am not hurting anyone. I do not understand the “holier than thou” attitude of women who have kids and keep saying that pregnancy is beautiful. It might be for you, but not for everybody else.
    Pregnancy is just not for everyone, we are so lucky to live in an age in which women are free to choose.

  11. I don’t know, I read that article too and it DID strike me what she said about adopting vs. pregnancy but I am flip flopping on how that made me feel as a woman. Part of me was glad she was so open and honest – especially knowing she had a weight problem as a child, its an honest fear to have. But, as you pointed out, it does send somewhat of a mixed message – if SHE is afraid of the weight gain from pregnancy and she knows how to help people lose weight, that is a little bit unsettling in a way. I don’t know, I’m still flip flopping and probably not making much sense at this point. 😉 Long story short – I totally see your point, I’m just not sure where I fall on either side of the argument, oddly.

  12. i have always been a massive fan of jillian and was a member of her website for a while. you know, before all the diet shakes and products came out. i haven’t read the article, but there was a snippet in the news here (australia) today.

    firstly, i don’t think it really counts as news…and secondly, i simply thought….so what?

    i’ve never been maternal, so finding out a couple of years ago that i would be unable to have children anyway didn’t make me feel less of a woman like i know it did a friend.

    i think that we are lucky to live in an age where we can make the choice, i think that jillian is actually quite brave for giving her reasons because chances are, she’s not the only one.

    i get more annoyed with the focus on body image as the cause of eating disorders than i am concerned about what jillian said. there is a big difference between eating disorders and disordered eating and i think body image has very little to do with eating disorders.

    i think that jillian might also be more comfortable saying that it’s because of her weight issues, rather than perhaps she just doesn’t have that inclination. not all women do, but you’d be surprised at the number of women who have outright abused me when i’ve told them i didn’t want to have children. i am in the lucky position that my husband does not want children either…and i think that everyone has the right to that choice, no matter what their reasons.

    i think that women cause other women far more insecurity and stress than the media, and are far more judgemental about other women’s choices than they should be.

    make your own choices, live your own life. let others live theirs, even if they are not the choices you’d make. it’s actually really OK to do this.

    OK, wow – did not mean to get so ranty in my very first ever comment on your blog….but…well….as someone with a diagnosed ED and who doesn’t want (and can’t have) children, the judgements that people have placed on me about those choices really rile me up. jillian’s comment? don’t sweat it. do what makes you happy. let her do her thing. why does she have to be the poster girl for “successful recovery” of body issues?

  13. I am a little late to this, but I had to comment! I am now 6 days away from my official due date and this morning suddenly had a break-down about weight – I have put on more than the recommend 25-35 pounds and read something in one of my pregnancy books that any additional weight can take up to 2 years to lose (if at all)…after working so hard to lose weight pre-pregnancy this really got to me!

    But honestly, the idea of avoiding kids just to keep my weight in check…that is pretty messed up. I felt silly admitting to my husband that I was not only worried about the pain of childbirth, and whether I will be a good mother, but also that I am worried about my weight – it seemed so superficial in comparison!

  14. I don’t think its hypocritical at all. I ve only seen one season of biggest loser and I loved jillian but it def seemed like she had some food/weight issues that she lives with. Theres a bunch of reasons why I don’t want to have kids, and while it’s not a high reason on the list, not wanting my body bent all out of shape and fat and alien (hello, parasite living in your body) and weird is there. I couldn’t stand getting all fat and puffy. That being said, I know in real life on others its not getting fat and puffy, its creating life and wonderful and all that. But if it were myself, that’s how I’d feel. So I think its very genuine of her to say what she thinks instead of covering it up.

  15. I would guess that she has disordered eating. She obviously has to constantly diet to stay in the shape she stays in. In my opinion dieting all of the time simply leads to obsession. With that said I understand the feelings that she has. I have a beautiful daughter but when I got pregnant I had dieted for so many years I didn’t know how not to diet. Needless to say I gained a lot of weight and have never lost it all. This forced me to take a look at the eating issues and I’m working to resolve them. I think it’s sad to avoid pregnancy because of eating issues but I do understand and sympathize with her.

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