In the latest issue of Shape, Olivia Wilde — looking rather fit — claims she’s “not in perfect shape.” In lieu of a traditional profile, the magazine let Wilde write about her post-baby body. Sick of the focus on women quickly bouncing back after pregnancy, the mother of an 11-month-old boy wrote, “I’m softer than I’ve ever been, including that unfortunate semester in high school when I simultaneously discovered Krispy Kreme and pot.”
For Wilde, life after baby involves endless rounds of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” plus pizza and beer. She calls the latter “two ingredients that are not found in the purely fictional book I like to call How to Look Like You Never Made a Human: A Guide to Socially Acceptable Motherhood.”
With a healthy sense of humor, she writes candidly about the physical changes her body went through after birth, describing her immediate postpartum belly as a “partially deflated pool toy.” And as for the stunning pictures of Wilde looking rather like her pre-baby self, she notes that they’ve been “generously constructed to show my best angles, and I assure you, good lighting has been warmly embraced,” adding, “The truth is, I’m a mother, and I look like one.”
There was no mention of Photoshop, but Shape has previously found itself in hot water after airbrushing its cover stars. In 2007, the publication removed any trace of Angie Harmon’s C-section scars from the birth of her first two children. In 2009, Jenny McCarthy admitted her perfect cover body was the result of “a crapload of airbrushing.” (Shape denied altering her body.)
The photos of Wilde look more like a combination of careful clothing selections and lighting tricks, rather than excessive digital manipulation. But they’re still disappointingly familiar, in comparison with the candor of her writing. The buzz generated by Wilde’s words could indicate a tipping point in the coverage of postpartum celebrities. Maybe next time, we’ll actually get to see what one looks like.