Jessica Alba isn't getting her pre-baby body back

The actress admits motherhood has changed her -- why can't more stars do likewise?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published July 13, 2011 6:14PM (EDT)

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba is a woman whose body can be usually found in the dictionary under the word "rocking." But in a frank interview for the new issue of Allure, the actress, pregnant with her second child, admits that motherhood is a life-changing experience not just for a woman's heart but her booty as well. Or as she puts it, "It's a miracle what happens, but you definitely are different afterward."

It's not exactly headline news that pregnancy and childbirth do something to a woman – even a woman who has gained fame largely on the strength of her bikini-filling ability. But in a world where celebrities tend to celebrate the birth of their children by flaunting their abs on a magazine cover or a Victoria's Secret runway, it's almost pathetic how refreshing it is to have a famed sex symbol confess that "jeans just sort of zip up differently, and things hang differently" and that "'I can’t ever get down to the weight I was before I had [my daughter] Honor." That's right, fans, a woman just admitted there's a number on the scale she's not seeing again -- and she's all right with that.

Whether she's pregnant or postpartum, no one in his or her right mind would look at Alba and think, wow, that girl has really let herself go. She's still a Hollywood actress, a spokeswoman for Revlon, and smoking hot. And the pressure for women, celebrities or not, to go from young babe to sexy MILF is still intense. But maybe the conversation just got a degree or two more realistic. 

Motherhood doesn't have to mean the end of looking or feeling great. If you're reasonably healthy and fit before a baby, odds are good you'll be reasonably healthy and fit afterward. But every time a magazine that's been slavering for months over a celebrity's "bump" turns around and blares about her POST BABY BIKINI BOD, it sends the message that the normal, natural process of recovering from birth, from nursing and nourishing a child, and from the very real and often permanent changes of pregnancy are but temporary obstacles, to be eradicated with extreme haste. It's unfortunate, because it doesn't consider the possibility of a new kind of beautiful. You're not the same after you have a child. You're not supposed to be. And that's a good thing. As Alba says, "I saw how incredible and amazing it is to be a woman and to be able to create a life ... According to some people, I peaked in my early 20s. I was like, Oh, really? I feel like I’m getting better."

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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