A friend of CRI, who prefers to be anonymous has contributed this article.

First, it was a Hollywood obsession. Then, like most western things we ape, the obsession trickled into Bollywood. And instead of staying there, like it should have, the obsession is slowly but surely making a place in the minds of the urban Indian woman. The obsession I am referring to is called being a ‘yummy mummy.’

As I read a report of women in Hyderabad going under the knife to get rid of “stretch marks, a muffin top and sagging breasts,” my mind did a quick recap on recent Indian celebs who look gorgeous post pregnancy – Shilpa Shetty, Lara Dutta, Mandira Bedi, Malaika Arora Khan, Suzzane Roshan, Kajol, Madhuri Dixit to name a few. The report goes on to say: “Doctors said cosmetic surgeries including tummy tucks, breast reconstruction, liposuction and revergination for a slimmer, fitter body post-pregnancy have become extremely popular in the last three years.”

Full report here

How have we as a society, who have always looked at a Mother beyond sexual appeal, made her just that – an object? An object, whose worth is decided on how she looks, Because each time the media uses the term yummy mummy and we don’t protest enough, we are allowing a sick stereotype to sink in – that which places external appearances and vital stats on a higher pedestal than inner goodness and values.

The fallout of this for mothers can only be negative – depression if you put on weight, obsession of an extreme kind to shed fat, competing with their teenage daughters and last but not the least – giving an underlying message to your children that looks matter, as much if not more than character!

No, I have no issues with looking good and fit. My issue is when becoming healthy and fit is turned into an obsession, with help from the media of course! I cannot wonder how women are allowing themselves to becoming objects who are willing be remodelled only to reinforce stereotypes – of being eye candy – the very thing that in fact brought them out of their homes to the workplace. They wanted to show that they are not mere faces that adorn homes, but they can contribute with their intelligence too. So, why after the entire struggle, did we allow looks to be the cornerstone of all our achievements?

You look at your own family photos of the previous generations. Not all women in them have perfect figures. And they all seem happy too – because back then – magazines and papers didn’t tell them that if you put on weight it’s the end of the world for you. They didn’t ask you to hit the gym four months after you had a baby, they didn’t expect you to look a certain way – basically they did not put a premium on how you look. Motherhood changes things and you had to deal with it, maturely.

We all have innumerable memories of our mothers. Wiping your wet hand with her pallu, putting your head in her lap when you feel insecure, joking with her on, yes, her weight as she gives you that most awesome and feigned angry expression (she didn’t start dieting that very minute), watching her agree to do any work for you with a smile (though she’s worked tirelessly all day), seeing her truly enjoy her TV shows, looking on in sadness as she sometimes lets her emotion show in the way of a small tear – every child would have seen these and many other emotions when think of the word mother.

There are lessons that all of us have learnt from our mothers – and in the most subtle or the most direct manner. So, when she stays awake all night because you’re sick despite she herself having had the most horrendous day only to give you comfort, you know that sacrifice may be a tough thing to do – but for your loved ones it’s something that should come easy. It’s subtle but effective. When you cannot find your important stuff because your cupboard is a mess, she yells at you for not being orderly. In fact, she’s directly giving you a management mantra for free – be organized in order to have control in your life. That’s as direct and annoying as it gets. But she’s the mom and there’s a reason why it’s said that mom knows best.

Then again, there are times when she doesn’t know and she admits it – in your face – just like that but not before she’s tried hard enough to arrive at a solution. Whether it’s a math problem, a financial problem or an emotional one – she’ll tell you as it is. Sample this:

A math problem: Too tedious, ask your dad, your teacher, not me!

Finances: U liked the dress? But wait till next month, budget’s tight this month

Emotional: I know you are heartbroken, and I don’t know how to make you feel better – but will a hug do? Should I cook something? Ok…I’ll watch your favourite movie although I hate the actors!

This is a mother and a mother is lots more, which can hardly be confined to words. Given all this, how come ‘Yummy Mummies’ define everything that today’s mother is supposed to be? See any successful actress mom or model mom or any pretty mom – she is branded as a yummy mummy. The media obsession with these two words is spawning a culture among non-celeb mothers that is unhealthy. So high is the craving for good looking faces and thin figures that mothers have been reduced to these two words?

I have young unmarried friends who ask me how soon they can get back into shape after pregnancy–they seem not concerned about the motherhood experience. The new moms are dying to go the gym and eat less so they can get back into their old jeans. What could have been a natural process is now forced, through media hype upon young moms and therefore, wrong. Having Shilpa Shetty, Karisma Kapoor and Lara Dutta flaunt their curves after delivery doesn’t help. While their getting back into shape may be imperative to the profession they are in, the media going gaga over them is gross. So, while an Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had to face media questions on her weight did anybody stop to think that she was enjoying motherhood maybe?

Why is a drop dead figure the only virtue that defines a successful mother today? All these actresses I mentioned must be great moms, there’s no denying the fact. But, if they don’t stop the media from tagging them as ‘yummy mummies,’ they are feeding the very stereotype that they probably fought when they successfully fought and forayed in the male-dominated industry. The fetish to use adjectives and slot a mother as ‘yummy’ has become a fashion that’s most retrograde, sexist and very flawed. And to see the so called modern women falling for it is worrying. Don’t they realise that it’s finally being slotted to how you ‘look’ – always?