Body image deprogramming

posted on: June 24, 2014

Body image deprogramming | from lostinaspotlessmind.com

I’ve written quite a lot about body image on this blog. I’ve contemplated holiday related issues, bodies on the beach, and last year I had my own summer body rebellion. Confidence has always been of interest to me, like how depression can affect it, or how you’re never really “done” with developing and understanding it. Sometimes I simply feel we need to talk; enough is enough. Some things could use more daylight, less taboo, like having thighs that rub together, or how it feels to receive the complicated “compliment” of “you look so slim!. Thinking about all that was an important part of my own understanding of body image in general, and my own in particular. Once again, though, I sense things changing.

My personal journey of body image has gone through three stages so far. The first was when I wasn’t really aware of the concept, and it felt like a personal thing, my own private issue. The second, when I started reading more body positive blogs, and read magazines and watched TV with an increasingly critical eye. This was also when I wanted to pick up my battle ax and slice down anything that felt like diets, thinspiration, fitspiration. It was still a personal issue, but I didn’t feel alone anymore, nor did I feel as helpless or vulnerable as I had when I was younger.

Now I feel a shift to a third way of thinking. It’s both very personal and very public, but the two are growing more separate. The “public” area (and please notice the “l” in there) has to do with, say, how I think the clothing sizes and shapes available nowadays is an utter joke, and a terrible one at that. It deals with the monotonous, one-sided picture of bodies the media give us. It’s why I’ll never photoshop my body shape for blog pictures, why you’ll never read anything here about diets or how to look slimmer or more curvy or more fit, or less wrinkled or hairy or dimpled or skinny or short or fat or squishy or muscular. I’ll always have the opinion that you can be healthy at every size, and that the way fat people are discriminated against is atrocious. This is my public side of things, the energy I direct out towards the world.

Body image deprogramming | from lostinaspotlessmind.com

For myself, though, I want to spend less time being angry. Just a brief shopping trip can have me shaking with rage over the unfairness of it all, and the damage that is being done to all of us. That anger is justified and right, but I want to save it for when I can actually use it for something. In my private life I want to change my focus, to deprogram my brain from the idea that my body is the most important thing about me. Wonderfully enough, I’ve come so far now that when it’s just me and my body and my thoughts, we get along very well, most of the time. I don’t avoid mirrors, or avoid seeing myself naked. Sometimes I even like that better than when I’m dressed, as it’s usually badly fitting clothes that frustrate me, not the way my body looks on its own.

Somewhere along the line I got the idea that in order to have a positive body image, I should work on loving my body more, more, always more. If I wanted to be a good role model in person, or a blogger with positive influence, I needed to spend a lot of time and energy on that more. I don’t want that more anymore.

I want to shift my focus towards things that aren’t about how I look. I want to improve my writing. I want to refresh the French I learned in high school, and maybe start writing songs again. Learning a completely new skill would be cool, something outside my comfort zone. I’d like to find techniques for feeling less anxious and worried. Making new friends would be magical (if anyone in Oslo are feeling the same way, do let me know!). I want to understand people better, how their minds and feelings work. I want to bake more cake.

All those things will take time and energy (and I’m already low on that due to possibly-CFS/ME). So I figure, as my body and I are such good friends now, we can focus on doing great things together, not constantly analyzing our relationship and reassuring each other that we’re fine. We are fine. She’s not a project I have to work on, not in the “get more fit and healthy” way, nor in the way of “you must absolutely love every single thing about your body and remind yourself of it all the time”. Why spend time fixing it when it isn’t broken? There’s a whole world of things to experience, after all. I don’t want to miss it because I’m busy staring into the mirror.

  • Frances

    LOVE your message…keep up the good work and maintain your voice. I am so impressed by your blog. Incidentally, I’m 60 and have ME!

    • Maria

      Hi Frances! I’m sorry to hear you’ve also got ME, but hey, we’re lovely nonetheless :) Also, how wonderful that my blog can touch readers of all ages, thank you for commenting.

  • Eleanor

    I can’t thank you enough for posts like this. My younger sister has spent the last six years in and out of hospitals and care units as a sufferer of anorexia, my mother has spent most of her life struggling with failed diets, and I sit in between them as a young woman with heightened awareness of my body, of my food intake, of my short waist and thick ankles and large thighs and everything else I feel make me less of something. And then I come across posts like this and I ask myself, “less of what?!” Less of a body? Less of a person? I can walk, I can paint, I can hold someone’s hand, I can bake a cake all thanks to this complex mass of skin and muscles and blood and tissue and life. My body and I can do wonderful things together so, like you have so eloquently phrased it, “Why spend time fixing it when it isn’t broken? There’s a whole world of things to experience, after all. I don’t want to miss it because I’m busy staring into the mirror.” Thank you for being such a breath of fresh air and for providing some much needed perspective in a world where it is all too easy to believe that your value as a human being is dependent on a gap between your thighs.

    • Maria

      Hi Eleanor, thank you for commenting and sharing your story. I’ve also had some “close encounters” with eating disorders (well, I guess most of us have nowadays), and they definitely impact us even when we’re not directly involved. Stay strong, darling, both for your family and yourself!

    • SN

      Thank you for your post. Indeed, ‘less of what?’
      Full of us. (That sounds up myself. Oh well. lol)

      Thanks Maria – thoughtful, peaceful ideas.

  • Maimu

    You’re gorgeous! That first picture, as thou I am looking at you trough a foggy window… kinda feels like looking at a Botticelli painting.

  • RP

    You are a wonderful writer and always have the most refreshingly thoughtful posts. I’ve started jogging recently, and at first felt very self-conscious about my body and lack of coordination. At some point I realized: I do not need to apologize for my body. Not to others and not to myself. That thought has resonated with me since. I do not owe anyone a perfect body. Sure, I hope to become more toned and in better shape, but only because these things are good for me as a whole. Thank you for your post!

    • Maria

      I’m glad you like it, RP! I’ll probably/hopefully try out yoga for the very first time this fall, and can very much relate to feeling self-conscious about your body and its movement. But hey, we have bodies that _can_ move, and just that is reason to celebrate, I think!

  • Joyceline

    Beautiful post! I am still working on overcoming my own body image issues (I thought that graduating high school would get rid of most of them but I guess not). You always seem to touch on topics most other lifestyle/fashion bloggers never talk about. Love your writing.

    • Maria

      Thank you, Joyceline (such a beautiful name, by the way!). I graduated from high school almost ten years ago, and I still struggle from time to time. I don’t think body issues ever go away 100% – our bodies are constantly changing, so it’s natural that our poor brains need some time to adjust and adapt to those changes. Still, it gets easier, without a doubt. I wouldn’t be the 18 year old “me” again if anyone paid me! So hang in there, kid <3

  • Annie

    Fantastic post! I’ve only just found your blog, and have spent time over the past few days reading through a lot of your posts. Thank you for your clear-sightedness and kindness. You are a beautiful breath of fresh air!

    I was just looking through Polyvore and looking at some lovely dresses that looked great on their own – but when I looked at them ON A MODEL they looked like sacks. Seriously, they looked shapeless and ill-fitting, because the models were so thin they did nothing for the dresses. And I found myself getting irritated, thinking “why can’t they put this dress on someone with curves? It would look so much better!” That’s not to denigrate people who are naturally slim – but I bet those models wouldn’t choose those dresses for themselves, because they didn’t fit well. So I thought “What is this, that designers and shops will actually put a dress on someone whose shape it doesn’t suit, and make the dress they are trying to sell look much less appealing, just because models have to be thin? What madness is this?”

    And then I came here and read your post, and just had to comment! Sorry for venting! But you are so right – we should be able to just *be* ourselves, mind and body together, without thinking about it or feeling we are somehow lesser people because our thighs rub together (mine do too). I think a gradual sea-change in womens’ attitudes to their bodies is happening, but it’s slow, and every new generation has its own issues and has to learn from scratch, it seems. Sorry – long ramble! But thank you, sincerely.

    • Maria

      There’s no need at all to apologise for long comments/rants here, darling, I really appreciate them! And yes, that was something I thought about a lot when I taught fashion: that there seems to be a slow, but powerful shift in the way women think and feel about their bodies, but the fashion industry is sorely behind in handling this. I’ve begun teaching myself to sew, and can definitely appreciate that with a thin body it might be easier to get the fit right, but surely it must be much more interesting to take on the challenge of all the different kinds of bodies we actually see out in the world? And also, as you say, some kinds of clothing would work at least as well on a less thin body, so why not take advantage of that?

  • Frida

    I have a few problems with my body image (who doesn’t?), and this is the kind of blogpost that makes me want to shift my focus to other things. Why should I spend hours staring at my face, when I can use that time taking photographs, travelling, or cooking?
    Thank you so much for this post!

  • Janet

    Great post! It is part of the patriarch to work at being….. I have found making my own clothes a wonderful journey for body image. You are stunning. ( I am 51 – just wait…)

    • Maria

      The patriarchy hasn’t done much good in the greater scheme of things, has it? How people can refuse to call themselves a feminist in 2014 is madness to me. I seem to have come to the same conclusion as you, that DIY’ing is the way to go, and my kitchen table is currently covered with my create-my-own-dress-pattern-project :) As for 51, I am truly looking forwards to it! My first grays popped up this year, and it’s almost like a silver-haired me is waving at me from the future.

  • Bosanbo

    “…it’s usually badly fitting clothes that frustrate me, not the way my body looks on its own.”

    This! I feel like so much frustration comes from this problem and is attributed to our bodies, instead of the poor offerings. When I wear clothing that fits properly, my body issues vanish. Discovering the difference a trip to the tailor can make was big, for me. It’s an affordable solution to a silly problem. Or, like you, we can take up seeing! It’s a great skill.

    • Maria

      Hear, hear! When I worked as a personal shopper/stylist, I would always tell my clients that it’s the _clothes_ that are wrong for _them_, not the other way around. The clothing industry is desperate to keep this a secret, though, which I find very frustrating. Would we accept this in other industries? Like, if they only made one single type of cars, or houses, or computers, and we were all supposed to simply make it work for us? I think not.

  • Sarah S.

    Love this! I love what you are doing with your blog, promoting style while refusing the idea that it needs to be on an arbitrarily chosen body type. For me, I bought the hype that it was worthwhile to strive for “the perfect body” in my mid-twenties. I got as close as I could, but still wasn’t quite there. I was “enviably” tiny, but still could point out places that “needed work” (no, they didn’t; that was just my shape!). Now I’m bigger and I have a daughter, and I want her to know that “the perfect body” is NOT attainable as defined by society, but the truly perfect body IS attainable because it’s the body she has right now (whenever now may be). I also am proudly feminist now, because I define feminism as the belief that women are human beings (it is a scary world, and many people really do not believe that women are people). We are so much more than how we look. It is important to take care of our bodies, but health does NOT equate to how we look. I like how I look, so I always fight doubt that I am beautiful (it does creep up on me sometimes; I’m not perfect). It isn’t crazy to feel beautiful when you’re not conventionally attractive (especially in the current climate, when even the most beautiful people are ridiculed for not looking perfect all the time). The crazy thing is when you let someone else tell you that your gut is wrong, that you are wrong to find yourself beautiful. You have to listen to your own voice – the people who love you agree with it!

    • Maria

      Thank you so much for your comment, Sarah. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a thoughtful, determined mother, and I’m sure she’ll thank you for it once she’s old enough to realise it :) This is one of the most important things we can do, I think, to be good role models, not just for sons and daughters, but for siblings and parents and friends and lovers as well!

  • Claire

    There is something I love particularly about this post. Not only is there never too much on the issue of “leave us alone, our bodies our perfect the way they are”, but I loved the stress you put on DOING things.
    As much as I value articulate, political criticism of the different expressions of the permanent female body-bashing we get and of the general patriarcal set of values (it definitely has results in terms of laws and regulations etc.), I do think that the way to truly change mentalities (especially ours) is by proof, acts, deeds, achievements.
    I don’t think it’s efficient enough just to go round telling people that women should be loved for the body they have : BE loved for the body you have, be awesome, rock it, dress it wonderfully, make love with it, achieve great sports results. Don’t just go round saying women can be brilliant academics/mecanicians/painters/scientists/whatever : become one, and a fucking good one. Don’t just complain that women don’t get paid the same as men (although this better change quick !!) : go to your boss, show him the good work you’ve done, ask for a pay raise, and encourage your friends to do the same.
    I don’t wish to condemn feminist discourse, oh dear, of course not ! But I believe it constitutes only half of the empowerment. Try it, achieve it, astonish yourself that you can do it, feel powerful and let people see for themselves how powerful you are, and incidentally that you did all this and are a woman. That’s what I love about your blog !!!!! :)

    • Maria

      Hi Claire! I, too, feel the importance of doing things, or simply _being_ things, to create a change. For me (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) it was important to understand the “theory” first, because I simply wasn’t aware of the truth about the world. It can be very comfortable to just pass through life without getting to the bottom of things, after all, so once you’re shocked out of that delusion, I, at least, needed to _understand_ the problem before I could decide how I wanted to deal with it. My mind is fortunately much more “in the game” now, so taking it the next step feels like just the thing to do!

  • Alexandra

    I live in Drammen, so not far from Oslo, and I could do with more friends :) Let me know if you want to meet!

  • Stine

    Dejlig tekst! Din afsluttende pointe – at stoppe (over)analysen og bare være med sin krop minder mig om mine tanker i forbindelse med et særafsnit af “Trinny og Susannah”. I udsendelsen skulle kvinder lære at ELSKE deres bagdel. Der blev lavet afstøbninger af kvindernes baller, og kvinderne skulle så gå rundt mellem de små skulpturer og anerkende dem. Der blev rakt lommetørklæder frem og tilbudt psykologisk støtte. Og jeg tænkte bare: Hvorfor skal de partout ELSKE en relativt ligegyldig kropsdel? Eller en kropsdel i det hele taget? Hvorfor ikke sætte arbejdet ind på et helt andet niveau – nemlig at finde fred med, at kroppen er der, ikke hvordan den er der.

    • Maria

      Åh, Trinny og Susannah, altså… don’t get me started. Jeg har ikke TV hjemme selv, men har sett programmet ganske ofte hjemme hos mamma, og hver gang ender jeg opp med å ville kaste noe på TV’en. Tenk om de i stedet for å ta avstøpninger av rumper, heller hadde lært folk hvordan media påvirker folk, og hvordan man kan “beskytte” seg mot det? Men nei, dét hadde jo ikke gått, hvis folk ikke konstant er bekymret for hvordan de ser ut, kan man jo ikke gi de makeovers og lage TV av det. *oppgitt*

  • Stine

    Forresten – hvis jeg boede i Oslo, ville jeg venne-kurtisere dig, som var der ingen morgendag. Det virker bare altid stalker-agtigt, når man skriver sådan på nettet, men jeg håber, jeg ikke fremstår alt for creepy. :D

    • Maria

      Og du kan stalk’e meg så mye du vil, kjære – om jeg hadde bodd i Danmark hadde du fått en ny venninne på flekken!

  • Erin

    Maria, your first photo is stunning, although I must say I bet you look pretty damn good in sharp focus, too! I agree with your dislike of adding more to body confidence – we’re so often encouraged to love our bodies “in spite of” something we don’t like, such as the squish or the dimples, the thighs that rub together, etc, but that won’t solve anything and will instead lead to more problems! I think the body confidence epidemic is so wide-spread because we’re so focused on ourselves. If we have more to do, outside of ourselves, like that French language practice or cake-baking you mentioned, we appreciate our bodies for all they allow us to do, and we release some of that neurotic grip on what we look like. We are so much more than what we look like.

    • Maria

      Hear, hear, Erin! And thank you :) I _did_ briefly consider posting the photo without the blur, but then I’d be sort of contradicting myself, wouldn’t I, as I write how I want to focus on something _besides_ my body. Also, I felt the image might distract from the text itself, and I wanted readers to remember my words, not my body. Finally, I know too well how easy photos of “regular” people can still lead to a comparison battle inside one’s head, and I didn’t want to trigger that in someone else.

      I don’t have a TV (though I watch plenty of shows on Netflix!), so I’m not exposed to the amount of advertising and strange TV-shows that are out there nowadays; this summer, though, I spent some time in my home town, and watched quite a lot of makeover shows with my mum. They’re very entertaining, and I like to compare my own opinions to that of the show’s stylist(s), but I also noticed how much more I thought about my own appearance after a round of episodes. Much better to spend time perfecting my lasagna skills, or drafting a dress pattern!

  • Jennifer S

    Yes! This is something I’ve been writing about a lot lately too. It’s tough because once you have this body positivity realization you’re like duh, we shouldn’t even have to talk about this because it’s so obvious now, but then you also want to talk about it a lot because it doesn’t seem to be obvious to most other people. I just wish that it had been possible for me to learn more about my body and body love when I was a teen, so that I could have been more confident and loving and accepting then, and less worried about losing weight or hating my shape because all of my friends were petite. Shopping can still knock me into a spiral, because companies just don’t seem to make clothes for real bodies, and realizing I’ve gone up a size is still hard, but mostly those are old feelings now, like muscle memory that kicks up.

    • Maria

      I think we must be brain twins, Jennifer, because this was just so well written. *applauding* I _love_ that concept of negative thoughts being “muscle memory”.

  • Ingvild

    Du er så veldig, veldig motiverende og veldig, veldig modig. Likte dette innlegget så godt, og det er så fantastisk at noen skriver om det :-) Forresten synes jeg du har en veldig inspirerende blogg, det er kanskje ikke så ofte at jeg kommenterer, men du har en utrooolig selvbevissthet og stil, lovelovelove it!

    Ha en super torsdag!

  • Marthe

    Var nettopp hos behandler og snakket om hva som var bra nok – og så fokusere vekk på noe annet, gjøre noe istedet for å hele tiden tråkke opp de samme stiene. Så står det samme her – kloke hoder tenker nok ganske likt likevel. Nå er det bare å få det til i virkeligheten :)

    Jeg bor i Oslo og savner en venninne forresten – så hvis du har lyst hadde det vært veldig hyggelig med en mail. Det følger med en litt rar dachs, nylig funnet glede for gule hester og mye håndarbeid. Tror det kan være hyggelig (:

    • Maria

      Ah, ja, å tenke noe og å få det til i praksis er to ganske forskjellige ting – men det første er en veldig bra start på det siste! Sender deg en mail, jeg :D

  • Kali

    Thank you very much for writing that type of post. I really like this idea of going beyond body acceptance and self esteem, and really thinking about other thaings than our bodies in the first place. We are not our bodies, we are not how we look like, and we have so many more things to pursue than being “beautiful” or “attractive”.

    I do like all these discussions about body image in non-fiction literature, media and on the web, but I somehow feel like it still brings the focus back to the questions of the body, and outlines the importance of physical appearance in our society, when we really should be focusing on something else. We all are wonderful human beings who can achieve a lot of things (depending on our field – it can be research, arts, connecting and contributing to a cause, raise a family…), and so many of us are held back because we spend too much energy worrying about how we look. What would have Marie Curie beciome if she had spend most of her energy worrying about the size of her thighs or the colour of her dresses?

    • Maria

      Indeed, Kali! To me, learning to look at my body in a new light was a bit like (silly similie coming, you’re warned) building a fence between me and a bothersome neighbour. It took a lot of work and not everybody approved, but now that it’s taken care of, I don’t constantly think “I have a fence, I have a fence”. It’s there when I need it for protection, but otherwise I just sometimes glance over it and think “huh, that’s a great fence, that is”, and then go about my business.

      *clears throuat* That _did_ make at least a little sense, right?

  • angie

    Thank you so much. I have a beautiful daughter that has just graduated high school and started college. There are so many thing about her that amaze me. One of the most recent came during a conversation similar to your post; her new attitude, “If people can’t look past the superficial and see ‘me’ than I feel sorry for them. They are missing out.” She’s on her way to a very healthy ‘relationship with herself’, but she’s at the beginning of that journey. As a parent, it’s a struggle to know how to best help each child develop their potential. I know I’ve made mistakes. It’s hard to balance concern for health and not have it sound like it’s about appearance or fitting in with society. It’s hard to know how to best support frustrations about clothes shopping. Devoting energy to the positive and the exciting rather than wasting it trying to fix perceived problems is such a better approach. Thank you for sharing your confident perspective and inspiration.

    • Maria

      How wonderful that your daughter is able to feel that way! I’m certain that having such a reflective and caring mother has helped her get there :) And what’s even more wonderful is how her attitude will spread, to her friends and maybe even children of her own, like a lovely snowball effect. Well done, you!

  • Maria A.

    Great post! I’m sorry my question doesn’t relate to it at all… I’ve been thinking about getting a pixie cut for quite a while now. Of course, I’ve thought about pros and cons of doing it, and there’s really just one thing that stops me from going to the hairdresser. I’m not sure that a pixie would look any great with my hair being the way it is. It’s pretty damaged, so I’m sure it would be great to just cut it off… But it’s also extremely thin and fine. I’m not sure my hair would look full and stay in place the way a pixie should do. All the women and girls I’ve seen with a pixie have had really great, full and thick hair. Maybe it would look wierd on the sides? Anyway, I love your blog and thank you for being yourself.

    • Maria

      Hi name sister! It’s hard to predict how your hair will look once cut short, but here are some things to consider:
      – the more difference there is between your skin colour and your hair colour, the more visible your scalp will be. Perhaps you can have changing your hair colour as a backup plan, in case you find your hair does end up looking thinner than you’re comfortable with? This way, you can try out the cut, and still have a solution if you’re not 100% happy with the result.
      – the right products and the right cut can do WONDERS. Perhaps a slick, combed-down pixie might not be the first styling choice (though give it a go anyway, just in case you DO like it), but a tousled pixie with some movement to it will create more fullness. Also, make sure your stylist understands your concerns and can adapt his/her cutting technique accordingly.
      – cutting off damaged ends can completely change how your hair feels and behaves. Mine certainly did.
      – with the fear of sounding like I know your hair better than you do (which, of course, I don’t): sometimes we get this idea in our head that we look so-and-so, whereas other people might not really notice it at all. I, for instance, have periods where I feel very self-conscious about my dark-haired upper lip, and can spend hours reading about threading/waxing/bleech/you-name-it. But the people who have known me forever usually look like a major question mark when I mention it. So though me may feel self-conscious about something, it may not be as apparent to people around us. If it really does bother you, though, ask someone in the know-how (like a marvellous hair stylist, in your case).

      I hope that was helpful! And if you really want that pixie cut, I’m certain there is one for you out there. Good luck :)

  • Hanne

    This post was on my dash on tumblr (originally by internett1992.tumblr.com) :

    “I’ve moved past the “fat is beautiful” part of my self acceptance and onto the “being beautiful is not my main priority” part.”

    And I think that’s what can happen to quite a lot of people after a while. I still like being vain and looking at myself in mirror and do a lot of self care to help with being autistic with mental issues, but like, I feel like I’m so done? I’m tired of reading about the same old bigoted arguments and I don’t give shit about health or whatever justification horrible people will use to bully other people, small and big. Why is it so hard to grasp? You are not doing other people a favour and if you really think being too fat or too bony for your personal preferences is worse than acting the way you are right now, you really have some friggin issues.

    But yes, a big part of the whole liberation from arbitrary beauty standards is that our lives are very complicated and we trust each other to do whatever we are able to in order to take care of ourselves in the best possible way. And if that for you means to leave things behind because they make you too angry or are otherwise affecting you in a not-so-healthy-way that’s ok.

    • Maria

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Hanne! For me, once I’d gone the “major” rounds with handling body issues, it became more like this thing I do once in a while just to “keep it in good shape”, almost like taking a car for its yearly check-up :p I like that it doesn’t have to be so either/or, that you either spend very much of your time thinking/reading/talking about body issues, or you don’t do anything at all, but that you can just “drop by” from time to time when you need it. For me, shifting my focus to other things has been wonderful, simply because it freed up so much of my time. Also, it’s pretty cool to realize that my body image is no longer so fragile that it’ll fall apart at the slightest hint of wind, but can hold its own agains a whole bunch of nastiness ;)

  • berit

    I can only agree with the great women before me, what a great article! It resonated so well with me as my journey looks pretty much like yours.

    And the pressure gets even worse now that I am pregnant and should work out to “get slim really quick again after the birth”. Or not gorge on food because I will go up like a balloon.

    Like fuck you! How about recommending exercise during pregnancy because of my low blood pressure and newly acquired back pain or because I will need those muscles for the birth and to run around and do silly stuff with my little girl once she is there? How about recommending a healthy diet because it ensure that your baby gets all these nutrients it needs and because it can help you with health related pregnancy issues such as acid reflux.

    • Maria

      Thank you, berit! When it comes to preganancy, the world seems to have straight out lost its mind. I don’t have any children yet, and I’m not sure I want kids at all, but if I ever did, I would be doing my own thing so fiercely it would cause “pregnancy advice” to spontaneously burst into flames.

      Well, I _like_ to think that, but at the same time, I can imagine it must be so much harder than defending “just” your own body; when one is going to be a parent, I’m sure one wants to do everything in one’s power to do the right things, and it must be super-confusing to figure out who one should listen to. Still, as you say, it is one thing that the advice in itself might be valid, but giving bullshit, appearance-focused reasons for it is just inexcusible.

      I hope you and the baby stay healthy and happy, darling!