Not every woman can be like Victoria Beckham and back down to a size 0 just weeks after giving birth. These days in Hollywood, a lot of pressure is put on its female stars to snap back into shape in an incredibly unreasonable amount of time, especially considering that it takes nine months to gain the weight. The latest example of this is Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai — dubbed The Most Beautiful Woman in the World — who is being slammed by critics in India for not upholding her "duty" of returning to her pre-baby figure nearly six months after she gave birth to daughter Aaradhya.
"Aishwarya is like a goddess," explains Indian columnist Shobhaa Dé. "She is held up as the ideal of beauty and so there is an expectation on her to look perfect at all times." But not everyone has been so tactful when discussing the weighty matter. Some detractors have posted videos online depicting photos of Rai, 38, pre and post-baby with elephant sounds playing in the background. "She is a Bollywood actress and it is her duty to look good and fit," one commenter blasted, while another wrote that the L'Oreal model, who was Miss World 1994, "needs to learn from people like Victoria Beckham who are back to size zero weeks after their delivery."
Regardless of the controversy, Rai still plans to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival this week and proudly show off her curves. Although she hasn't responded directly to her critics, she did say after the November birth of her first child that she was not concerned with losing the weight and planned to "enjoy motherhood" — as she should be allowed to do without strangers making her feel badly for it.
Earlier this week, photos of "Twilight" actress Bryce Dallas Howard caused a similar uproar. On Mother's Day, the 31-year-old was snapped in her sweats carrying her 4-month-old daughter — as well as much of the baby weight she gained while pregnant. Many websites mercilessly ridiculed the mother, with one even comparing her size to a "village," a play on the 2004 movie in which she starred. After the birth of her first child, Howard, the daughter of director Ron Howard, was very open about her struggle to lose the 80 pounds she gained with her now-5-year-old son. "Before Theo was born, I had been in good humor about my 80-pound weight gain, but I was now mortified by it," she wrote in a post for Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP blog. "I felt I was failing at breast-feeding. My house was a mess. I believed I was a terrible dog owner. I was certain I was an awful actress."
New mommy Hilary Duff faced similar scrutiny less than a month after she delivered son Luca on March 20. Although she almost immediately returned to the gym and her favorite Pilates and yoga classes, people still found something to criticize. "I like working out since it makes me feel more clear-headed and positive," she told Parade last month. "[But] then I read comments on my Twitter page about how I'm waddling into Pilates and I go, 'Wow, that's a really mean thing to say. I just had a baby three weeks ago!'" Duff, 24, adds that it helps she has no projects in the works "that I have to bust my butt to get into shape for, so it's more about how I feel … There is a little bit of pressure, but most of it comes from me."
Do you think there is an unfair pressure put on women to lose baby weight quickly?