You know, I never really thought that TMZ would ever let me down because I had no actual expectations of decorum. So imagine my surprise when I saw some photos taken on Mother's Day of the actress Bryce Dallas Howard walking with her infant daughter—to whom she gave birth in January—under the category "Beauty" with the headline "It Takes a Village" insinuating that The Village star is now the size of a village. Although there is a brief mention of her "post-pregnancy legs," the post itself is mostly smarmy and leaves the door wide open for the commenters to do all the nasty, dirty work of cruel jokes and harsh judgements. Except the TMZ staffers [Update: or maybe someone posing as one; TMZ tells us the user was not, in fact, affiliated with TMZ] couldn't resist, and jumped in the comments section anyway because they the conversation just felt incomplete to them without a mention of how damp this weight gain has made her panties. Seriously.
As though a point-and-laugh image-based post like that wouldn't already invite the lowest common denominator to pick apart this poor woman. On fucking mother's day no less! One person said: "Newborns sleep all the time so stop the laziness and junk food. 4 months is plenty of time to loose the baby weight." Another: DAMN!!! Most of these actress' work to lose the load pretty fast. She seems to be playing "universe". "She's ever expanding... Sorry Bryce, but you have cowed out, BIG TIME! Those thighs could feed a village of cannibals for a few weeks!" One concerned party offered some advice: "1 word=LAXATIVES!!! STAT!!!" Sadly, all of this is merely commonplace when an unflattering picture of a woman is posted on the internet.
Some genius on TMZ's staff [Update: Or someone posing as someone on staff, as TMZ claims] chimed in: "The article may say Bryce Dallas Howard on it, but all I'm seeing are photos of Hugh Jass." So mangling a prank call joke from a 20-year-old episode of The Simpsons is what passes for humor in that newsroom?
The thing about TMZ is that, at the very, very least, they posit themselves as the authority on all things celebrity, with their arrest records and dating histories ready at a moment's notice. So you'd think that perhaps they would've had in their Bryce Dallas Howard dossier that she gained about 80 lbs with her first child 5 years ago, and that this weight gain had "mortified" her. It was just one of several factors that contributed to the severe postpartum depression she suffered in the subsequent months. She wrote it about the experience very candidly for GOOP:
Before Theo was born, I had been in good humor about my 80-pound weight gain, but I was now mortified by it. I felt I was failing at breast-feeding. My house was a mess. I believed I was a terrible dog owner. I was certain I was an awful actress; I dreaded a film I was scheduled to shoot only a few weeks after the birth because I could barely focus enough to read the script. And worst of all, I definitely felt I was a rotten mother—not a bad one, a rotten one. Because the truth was, every time I looked at my son, I wanted to disappear.
However, there is a silver lining to their toilet bowl of crap. Horrible commentary aside, I think it's great that these pictures were posted, because they present a more realistic portrayal of post-natal recovery than the "I got my bikini body back in six weeks" narrative we've been subjected to as of late. Maybe some other women struggling with their own post-baby bodies will see these photos and feel a little less alone and a little more normal.
It Takes a Village [TMZ]
Update: TMZ claims the "TMZ_ADMIN" commenter is not, in fact, a TMZ administrator or employee. But the point remains.