Daphne Oz is a well-known author and TV host for “The Chew.” She’s also one of our favorite body-positive women to follow on social media, where she shares diet, fitness and recipe tips. Oz, currently pregnant with her third child, sat down with TODAY Style at the new Pure Leaf Tea House in New York City to talk about what she loves about her body, and the pressure women — especially new moms — face when it comes to looking a certain way. These are her words, as told to TODAY Style.
I think most women, if they’re honest, would say there are days when you love your body and are so appreciative of it, and then there are days when you’re like, “Why won’t you fit in this amazing dress that I really want to wear?!”
What I love most about my body is that it’s given me our two wonderful children and this third one on the way. It’s mind-boggling to me … what a woman’s body goes through in creating life.
I have never felt better in my skin than I did while pregnant. I think a lot of people would think I’m actually insane for saying that — but you are only obligated to yourself and your baby in that moment. I just felt really powerful, and I was in awe at what biology was doing.
And then, after you have your baby, you’re just in awe at how you still look pregnant! It’s a long and hard-fought process to get back to feeling strong in my skin. But you also re-evaluate yourself, because you’re version 2.0 now. You are infinitely better, but you are infinitely different. I think you have to take that time and be easy on yourself.
There are absolutely days when you look in the mirror and the shape of your face changes, your features change, your complexion changes. You are obviously gaining weight. Your clothes don’t fit the right way. It can be really hard to adjust to having a completely different sense of self. I think maybe because I had been overweight before, I wasn’t as alarmed by that.
I love being pregnant, but I know the pressure — especially being on camera, where it adds 15 pounds, and being a woman in today’s culture where the expectation is to bounce back immediately. You do see examples of that, and God bless them if it’s natural and they just nursed it all away. Great! But that wasn’t my experience. And I felt that if I was feeling that inadequacy, then that couldn’t just be me. There were definitely other women going through that.
And so in February, (when Oz was body-shamed after posting a bikini photo on Instagram) my son was only a year and some months old. It wasn’t my No. 1 focus to get back in shape immediately. It’s not about giving yourself leeway to never be in optimal shape again, but it’s also not about making yourself feel that you have to be in hiding until you get there. But that’s what killed me — some of the comments from women said, “Well, if I still looked like that a year after giving birth, I wouldn’t be wearing that bathing suit!” And that to me is a really tricky slope. Because if you have that much insecurity and you have that much self-hatred, you’re going to project that onto everything you do.
I wrote my first book, “The Dorm Room Diet,” about my experience being a 180-pound graduating high school senior going into my freshman year of college, realizing that the freedom college represented also came with responsibility. I lost 40 pounds. I created a healthy lifestyle plan that really works, and I wanted to share that with my peers.
Until that point, I felt like being overweight was a cross to bear, especially being overweight in my family. I thought that was something I was always going to have to deal with. Instead, the experience of struggling with my weight, finding a way to be happy and healthy in my own skin, to maintain my love of food but do so in a way that was supporting me, gave me a career.
I want people who follow me to see that I’m living my real life. My favorite part is when people see that I’m not a naturally thin girl and I obviously don’t bounce back quickly, so when things work for me, they know it’s going to work for them, too. That’s been really empowering for me. I want people to feel like they can learn something — and have fun with it.
As told to Rheana Murray. This essay has been edited and condensed for clarity.