Why Meghan Markle’s Bump Is Everyone’s Business
Ten days past my due date I waddled my pregnant body into town on the hunt for chocolate ice cream. It was a 35 degree day, I was as big as a house and the only item of clothing that fit was a giant mu mu covered in sad face emojis and before long, chocolate ice cream.
Luckily, I’m not Meghan Markle.
The former actress and newly minted member of the British royal family is pregnant and quite frankly, she looks amazing.
She attends public functions in towering heels, perfectly put together outfits and impeccable make up. And sure, she no doubt has a small army of people behind the scenes to help her achieve this particular vision of styled perfection, but still. She’s killing it.
Of course, the notoriously bitchy UK press just can’t let her have this moment. There has been commentary on her spending too much time cradling her baby bump, the clothes she wears and plenty of snide comments about her age (she is 37). Not to mention the continued speculation there is a rift between Markle and her new sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge.
No wonder Kensington Palace have had to appeal to Instagram to help them monitor the barrage of negative comments they are receiving on their official channels on the platform about the two Duchesses. The abuse has gotten so bad, even the British press are calling on the public to tone down their intense criticism of Markle and Middleton. Which is a little like starting a fire and being shocked when it spreads.
Markle finds herself walking a fine line. The royal family are expected to be polite, deferential and above all, non-political.
Every decision a mother makes is considered fair game for criticism and debate.
But mothering in public is a political act. How can it not be? From how our bodies are viewed (too fat! Too thin!). To if we should even be pregnant (too young! Too old! Not married! Too career focussed! Not financially secure!). To whether we breastfeed or not (and if we do breastfeed, where we do it). To how much time we spend with our children, every decision a mother makes is considered fair game for criticism and debate.
Markle’s sister in law was given slightly more leeway, after all, she was carried the future heir to the throne during her first pregnancy. But even the demure Middleton has professional hair and makeup visit the hospital before she greets the worlds media on the steps of St Mary’s, nursing her latest newborn. She is smart enough to know that any criticism of vanity will be less cutting than presenting an aesthetic of motherhood that is anything less than polished perfection.
Markle is a first time mum, we would do well to remember that bringing another human into the world is a messy, overwhelming, busy business. And pregnancy, whether in a designer dress or an ice cream covered mu mu, is often anything but glamorous.