Rosamund Pike, star of the hit film Gone Girl, gave birth to her second son with husband Robie Uniacke just five weeks ago. On Sunday night, at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards ceremony, she appeared on the red carpet all dolled up in a white dress. It was a custom design from Vera Wang, and revealed a lot of skin—and not just any skin. It was the skin of a brand new mother. For this “courageous” act of getting dressed, she is referred to as “brave.” Mommyish addressed the difference between wearing a white dress post-baby and true acts of bravery.
I think when you’re a new mother, almost every activity has an element to bravery to it. Just leaving the house can require both courage and foresight. But it isn’t really my place, or anyone else’s place, to tell a new mom that she is “brave” for wearing clothes when she walks out the front door—no matter how much skin she chooses to show.
Pike told Ryan Seacrest that her baby (whose name she has not released to the public) was nearby and she didn’t want to deal with the fuss of an elaborate dress. She explained that it was designed just for her: “This is Vera Wang, who came to me and said ‘I know what to do with you right after you had a baby—leave it to me.’” For better or worse, this is what she ended up with.
Her dress was not well-received by critics or the general public and, in some cases, there was an undercurrent of surprise that a new mother would dare to show off so much of her body. Calling her “brave” is a back-handed compliment that proves how uncomfortable we are with women’s postpartum bodies. (That is, unless they are in workout gear on the way to a hot yoga class in the pages of US Magazine.)
Pike was listed on a number of “worst-dressed” lists after the ceremony, and her choice of outfit was even hotly debated on the Today’s Parent Twitter stream. I mean, sure, it’s not my favourite dress of the night, and I wish Pike had had a bit more support in the front—and not because she just had a baby, but because she looked droopy and a bra, or that magic tape so many celebrities use, could have done the trick.
The reason we are talking about her dress, however, is because so many of the descriptions of it result in a discussion about her postpartum body. It’s like women who give birth aren’t supposed to leave the house and go to parties, even if the party is part of their job. And, if they go out in an ill-fitting dress, then it’s even more fodder for discussion. But calling Pike “brave” is a patronizing way to give a back-handed compliment. If a dress choice is ugly, call it ugly. If an actress recently had a baby, say congratulations and move on.