Get "enviably" thin the Nicole Richie way!

Two weeks after giving birth, the planet celebrates the star's "killer" body

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published September 29, 2009 5:30PM (EDT)

Remember those halcyon days of yore, when a celebrity could enjoy a leisurely few months after giving birth before posing in Playboy or strutting in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show?

Well, get yourself to boot camp, all you postpartum slackers, because a mere two weeks after hatching her second child, Nicole Richie is out and about and looking reassuringly thin.

After Richie, clad in a black satin romper, attended a Selena Gomez concert Saturday with her sister, E! promptly noted that her “seriously svelte” bod is “definitely killer.” The U.K. Sun called her “superslim,” PopSugar noted the “leggy” star looked “amazing,” while the Daily Mail cooed that the “slender as ever” celeb has “already snapped back into shape.” And EntertainmentWise similarly noted her “enviable post-baby body,” adding that her husband Joel Madden “looked impressed too!”

Us magazine, however, scooped all of them, observing way back on Sept. 17 that Richie is “back to her svelte self,” quoting a photographer who reported that “She looked absolutely amazing -- anyone who didn't know would never have guessed she had given birth just a week ago.”

Is that the same Nicole Richie who was looking positively skeletal not so long ago? The one who was being treated for unspecified problems surrounding her “thinness"? Good for her!

For all our cultural fascination with hot moms and baby bumps, the message is still clear -- as long as you’re carrying a future fashionista in that belly, you’re a glorious specimen of fertility. The moment the epidural wears off, however, you’re on the clock. Note, for example, how a line of nursing bras humorously celebrates maternal sexiness by showing a pregnant woman cavorting for her mate in black undies. Why? Because a real postpartum mother -- one who'd actually use a nursing bra -- is usually saggy, squishy, leaking out of at least two parts of her body, and unlikely to include lap dancing on her immediate to-do list.

But that doesn’t fit the fantasy, the one where a woman is greeted with awe not at the miracle of gestation and birth but at shedding all vestiges of her pregnant form with the greatest of haste. Until you’ve “snapped back,” girlfriend, you’re just fat, as evidenced by the blog commenter who tut-tutted that after delivering her son earlier this very month, Richie still looks “a little loose around her belly.” 

Anyone who’s ever had a baby, even someone as young and thin as Richie, can attest it’s not an experience to be easily snapped back from. Forget the weight -- there’s the hormones and the lactating and the soreness and the keeping a helpless 8-pound human being alive 24/7. Two weeks after giving birth, most moms are still stuffing their bras with nursing pads and easing themselves into the couch with inflatable doughnut cushions beneath them. Sexy, huh? Want to hear about the hemorrhoids and the nipple trauma? So while every mother has her own road back from pregnancy, it’s a process, not an overnight miracle. And mixed in among the blood and the milk and the jiggly belly, there’s a new life, for both the mom and the kid, and it’s pretty awesome. That's the "amazing" part. Why, then, would anybody think it’s so great to look like it never happened? 

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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