The XX Factor

Hollywood Is Delusional About Baby Weight

Parenthood star Monica Potter (does not need to lose any weight)

Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a rather rigid sense of what a woman’s body ought to look like and a very limited number of exemptions it’s willing to hand out. But this week has brought a refreshing spate of real talk about the way the industry reacts to women whose bodies have changed because they had children.

Parenthood star Monica Potter, speaking to the Hollywood Reporter as part of its video roundtable with actors who are considered likely contenders for Emmy nominations, told a hilariously depressing story about going to an audition after she had her last daughter.

“It takes me a couple years to lose the baby chub. It just does,” she explained. “I gain about 60 or 70 pounds while pregnant. I’m not one of these girls hitting the yoga mat. I like to eat Cheetos, I’m not going to lie. And after I have the kid, I like to have some drinks … I was pushing like 180 pounds at the time. I’m like, ‘You guys, I just don’t feel physically fit yet.’ I had my Spanx on and looked like a damn sausage, but I went in and thought I did a really good job. I got home and get the call from my agents. I’m like, ‘I did good, right?’ And they say, ‘You did great. The problem is you’re just … ’ ‘I’m too fat.’ ‘Yeah, we’re just going to wait a little bit.’ I said, ‘I already told you this!’ ”

What’s amazing about the story isn’t that the casting directors couldn’t see past what Potter weighed in the moment and envision her post-baby weight, given that she probably would have had some time in between when she was cast and when the project commenced production. That is, sadly, unsurprising. Rather, what’s remarkable is that her agents, who presumably have actual experience in the industry in which they work, couldn’t anticipate that casting directors might treat Potter as if her temporary weight gain mattered more than her performance.

Also speaking up this week was Cougar Town’s Busy Phillips, pregnant with her second child and fed up with how most celebrities talk about losing the baby weight. “I love that the whole weird misconception, ‘I just lost it all breast-feeding,’ ” she said in an interview with the Conversation host Amanda de Cadenet. “It’s like, ‘No, you didn’t!’ “

Apparently it’s easier for everyone to believe that breast-feeding is the equivalent of the kind of two-hours-a-day-five-days-a-week workouts that Gwyneth Paltrow has described as the key to maintaining her body as a tool of her profession than it is to understand that when you grow another human inside of you, your weight might tick up. And then it goes down again. Crazy.