The Princess and the Press
I shared a post on Facebook following the birth of the latest Royal prince here in the UK, a post which really divided opinion. There was a photo of the incredible Kate Middleton introducing baby to the worlds press, just hours after having him. The comment that was in with the photo was rather lost as the text on the photo said that Kate should have been at home in her PJs and not out on the worlds stage... I'm normally hyper vigilant about what I share online, but on this occasion the prose in the caption resonated with me and unusually I didn't really read the text on the 'photo. As a result, it appeared that I was instructing women what to do, which was absolutely not my end game.
Now anyone who knows me, knows that this was a well intentioned share; in no way whatsoever was I sharing to disempower women who actually want to have their hair and make up done after having a baby, or who feel up to putting on a pair of heels. The text (not put there by me) did do the opposite of what I set out to achieve, it said that she 'should' be doing one thing over another - which frankly is just as bad as forcing her out in heels and a bouncy blow dry.
My point always was that the media portray labour, childbirth and parenting like it was a mere inconvenience and that one should bounce back ASAP. My feeling was that perhaps the media should be a little more careful: one picture of Kate Middleton doesn't do any harm, but the constant dripping of being told we 'need' to do this or that, behave or look a certain way can really influence people, particularly those who are vulnerable.
Now I hear lots of people saying that's not possible, that we all KNOW that Kate has an army of stylists; but answer me this, if influencing doesn't exists then how does advertising work?
Yes, most of us know that the woman is fulfilling her duty and thankfully has an entourage to help her look that bloody amazing, but what about the ones who don't? In an individuals echo chamber you don't know what else they are being exposed to and how they feel at the moment they are viewing it; they may not really grasp the idea that this is not everyones reality and they are not failing. And again, I don't just mean the photo of Princess Kate - I mean the drip drip drip of the media. It is absolutely not the fault of Kate Middleton or any other celeb in the world - on how it makes someone else feel. I want to open up the discussion that rightly or wrongly, believe it or not it CAN make someone feel a certain way.
It doesn't stop with looks. Oh no, it goes much deeper. It starts by introducing a bizarre concept of how labour starts: think TV show, waters break dramatically, then a breakneck journey to the hospital where contractions are happening every two minutes and you give birth shortly after (all whilst lying on your back, and not pooing - there's often pooing in labour)
Then to how we should look. To bounce back. To get back to work. Get our bodies back.
That we should be enjoying every waking moment of motherhood. That we should not ever complain about it because we are the lucky ones. That we can't ever feel lonely, isolated, bored or quite simply exhausted...
Now again I am NOT SAYING that everyone feels like that, and I genuinely hope that the negative feelings are in the minority, but I think it's only fair that we start showing the full spectrum. Not the jovial 'mummy needs wine' malarkey, but the real guts of it all. There are some pretty vulnerable women out there and for the media to constantly feed into this picture that you're simply not good enough, it wears you down.
And more than that, it perpetuates the myth that it's a piece of cake. My goodness for some people they really can skip out of the maternity unit, but a lot can't and to know that they exist and see them in all their NHS pants and pads glory is a bloody amazing thing - a picture of the whole spectrum is what is needed.
Kate is an absolute warrior, but so is any mother no matter how she chooses to spend her postpartum. I can only hope that women are able to listen to their body and not ashamed to call for help and support if she needs it - in our Western society we seem to have lost the ritual and ceremony associated with caring for women in the postpartum which is sad because for many it is desperately needed.
So, for the record I think Kate rocks and she looked incredible! I hope that whatever she is doing now, she is in tune with her body and being treated like the goddess she is - like we all are