Rio 2016: Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill defends mums from body-shamers

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Kayleigh Dray
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Jessica Ennis-Hill – who won a silver medal for the heptathlon in this year’s Olympic Games – has explained that she faced many challenges on her Rio 2016 journey.

One of the biggest of these, however, was getting back into training following the birth of her son, Reggie, in July 2014.

“When you have your first child and you’re pregnant, most mums don’t really think about how much their body will change,” she told The Telegraph.

“I could never have imagined how hard it would be. You think 'I’ll have a baby, it’ll be fine and he’ll just lie there quietly while I train’. But it’s never like that.”

Stressing that her own physical journey was obviously very different to that of the average woman, Ennis-Hill went on to criticise the enormous pressures that new mothers can face when it comes to their weight following pregnancy.

She said: “It doesn’t happen overnight. I was an athlete before I had Reggie so my body did get back quicker than your average woman.

“It’s important for women to know you don’t have to get back to your tiny figure or whatever you were before in a matter of weeks.”

Ennis-Hill added: “My body is my job so I had to get back. But it’s whatever makes you happy, and your first priority is your baby at that time.”

Her body-positive words echo that of Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway, who welcomed her first child, Jonathan, with husband Adam Shulman earlier this year.

Sharing a photograph of a pair of cut-off jeans on Instagram recently, the Les Mis actress wrote: “There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all).

“There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer's are just too dang short for this summer's thighs.”

Hathaway continued: “Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink.

“It's all love (don't let anyone tell you otherwise.) Peace xx #noshame #lovewhatyouhavebeengiven”

Ennis-Hill, meanwhile, has confirmed that Rio 2016 will be her final Olympic performance.

The 30-year-old athlete - who won gold at London 2012 - also hinted that she is set to retire from the sport completely, although she is unsure whether this will be before the 2017 World Championships in London.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, she said: “I’ve had some absolutely amazing years in sport and in athletics and two medals from two Olympics is incredible, so I need to just have a think and decide whether I feel that I’ve achieved my potential and ready to move on and focus on something new or whether I feel there’s a little bit more to come.

“I know that I want to very much stay involved in sport in some capacity. It will be hard to completely walk away from it, but other than that I’m not 100% sure of which direction that will be in just yet.”

She added to The Telegraph: “I want to have some time being a normal mum, having time at home and doing different things. I just want to relax and chill and enjoy Reggie, and I do want to [have another child] in the near future.”

Images: Rex Pictures


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.