“The Biggest Loser” trainer extraordinaire Jillian Michaels set off a firestorm of controversy when she told Women’s Health magazine she had no interest in pregnancy because “I can’t handle doing that to my body.” Her comment irked and infuriated many mom bloggers. Now, Jillian talks to momlogic about what she really meant by that.
ML: So many of our readers responded to our post about your Women’s Health article. It’s obviously something moms were very passionate about. Were your comments taken out of context?
JM: They were taken out of context and misconstrued. First of all, the writer wrote that I have an “aversion” to pregnancy—which was her word, not mine. I never said that. It was at the very end of a three-hour interview. The writer said, “Do you want to have kids?” and I said, “I’m planning to adopt.” She then asked, “Why wouldn’t you get pregnant?” I said there were many reasons ... one being that “I can’t handle doing that to my body,” but I didn’t tell her why.
The truth is, I learned very early on that I have endometriosis and polycystic ovaries. I was always told that fertility would/could be a problem for me. Why do I have this? I’ve heard everything from “You have too much caffeine in your body” to “It’s genetic” to “You need to be put on birth control pill”—and I don’t believe in using synthetic hormones. In order to get pregnant, I know it would require surgery. For me, it becomes a sort of “I can’t handle doing that.” I’ve always just accepted that this is my thing, and this must mean I was meant to adopt, and that’s okay. But who knows ... there might be advances in science for women with endometriosis, so I’ll never say never. But, for now, I plan to adopt.
She then asked if one of the reasons I wanted to adopt instead of get pregnant was because I was an overweight kid. I said, “That could be part of it ...” Then, in the piece, she said that was the reason for my “aversion” (again, her word) to pregnancy.
I was feeling kind of panicked about answering the question. For me, it was a very personal question—and I had a lot of shame about the answer. If I tell people I have issues in this area, will they judge me and say, “If she has problems in this area, how healthy can she be?” I don’t think anyone with issues is less than, but this is just how I was feeling in the moment. It caught me off guard.
But NEVER in there did I say I WON’T get pregnant for sure or that it ruins your body. Never have I said that pregnancy ruins bodies. I don’t believe that. My best friend has an 8-year-old and she has one of the best bodies in town. Ali Sweeney’s body looks even better after having Megan ... she looks amazing. I helped train her! Madonna has one of the best bodies in the world, and she’s had two kids.
I don’t feel that pregnancy ruins a body at all, and I was really upset that an entire community of women felt hurt by what I allegedly said. So much has been misconstrued and taken out of context. I do expect that from the media, so I don’t really care about that. But what I DO care about is moms. So if moms or women out there feel betrayed at all, that matters to me. Moms are incredibly important to me.
ML: Were you surprised by the reaction your (alleged) statement received?
JM: I didn’t really understand how touchy this subject was. When it got the reaction it did, I realized that this had really struck a chord with women. This must mean that so many women do have these worries and concerns. The words that “pregnancy ruins a body” were put in my mouth—because I didn’t say it—but many women must worry that it does or that it might, because it just had such an impassioned response. Obviously, all women don’t have these insecurities, but they are real for some. And this may have triggered that for some women.
It also made me realize that I need to be much more careful and on my feet about a topic like this. Shame on me for being ashamed! Had I not been ashamed about it ... if I had been 100% honest ... none of this would have happened. I could have just said, “I’m not going to answer that” but i think that implies I’m hiding something. I always wanted to be truthful and tell others to “live in your truth.” But here, I was withholding a little bit. The lesson I learned is that I need to be truthful.
ML: What have your interactions with moms been like since the story broke?
JM: A lot of women have come up to me after this article came out and said they are scared about what happens to their bodies during and after pregnancy. They said: “I’m scared; I’m worried; it was hard for me.” My first instinct was to say, “Don’t be scared,” but then I just tried to listen to them about why they are scared and tried to reassure them. I think it’s incredibly important that we allow each other to be scared, and to have feelings that are less than perfect—just so we can open up the dialogue with each other, and share, support, and encourage.
That was the thing that was the most interesting to me ... that so many women came out and said they were scared, too. They said what they were thinking and feeling even if it was not politically correct. I think that’s so important, so we can educate and support each other without judgment.