Hello everyone! There has been so much excitement since my last post in March, and it is wonderful to be back. A warm welcome to the beautiful Princess Charlotte, and congratulations to big brother George, and to their parents, Kate, and William.
Two weeks ago, on June 13th, the Duchess of Cambridge made her first appearance after the birth of her daughter at Trooping the Colour and then was seen again the following day at the Festival of Polo at the Beaufort Polo Club. At both of these events, all eyes were on Prince George (who made his first appearance on the balcony at Trooping!) and on Kate…’s post-baby tummy.
It was exciting to see Kate for the first time since the birth of her baby. I was curious what she would choose to wear, what jewelry we would see, what amazing work of millinery would grace her head. I also can admit to wondering if she had found it to be as easy to lose the baby weight this time as she did two years ago. My interest and curiosity stems from a sense of sisterhood with Kate — as a fellow mother of two, I feel a sense of camaraderie with her while she is reclaiming her body after pregnancy and taking the large step of venturing out in public for an important occasion.
I don’t envy Kate having to go through this huge change and reveal on the international stage. At least when I had my children, the only people watching me deal with losing baby weight was my family (and my co-workers). The ‘important occasions’ I had to attend were weddings or graduations, not national events that were televised to the entire country. But I think the feelings of exposure, vulnerability, and the fear of judgment by others are universal.
Many news outlets and blogs describe and critique the Duchess’ clothing choices and appearance. In fact, some would say that whenever Kate makes an appearance, it is what she wears or how she looks that garners more attention than whatever cause she is supporting. This was no less evident during Trooping the Colour and the Festival of Polo. At Trooping, news outlets and blogs described Kate’s Catherine Walker coat and John Lock and Company hat and were flooded with the usual comments and tweets either praising or disapproving of her sartorial choices. Beyond that, however, was a strong trend toward comments focused on Kate’s physical appearance, such as “Kate is looking tired,” “she’s not glowing,” even that “she looks like she has a little postpartum depression.” Comments also included “her body looks good,” “she’s got her figure back,” “she looks happy and relaxed,” and “she’s obviously already in great shape again.”
The focus on Kate’s tummy heightened when she and George appeared at the polo the following day. Approving articles were written about her Me+Em Breton top and her TopShop jeans , followed by comments including, “she looks as trim and fit as ever,” she looks amazingly good,” “she looks better with post-baby curves,” and “she’s obviously a size larger than usual.” News outlets continued milking the public’s fascination with Kate’s body by publishing articles that Kate hired a personal trainer to help her lose the baby weight (People.com, 6/17/2015), that her Me+Em Breton top is a miracle slimming article of clothing that all women should own (DailyMail.com, 6/15/2015), that Kate had ordered Me+Em jeans in a specific waist size (and the article even published the jean size) (Telegraph.co.uk, 6/20/2015), and then there was the Great Maternity Jean Debate of 2015 as to whether or not Kate was wearing maternity jeans to the polo match…which lead to everyone staring at HD images of Kate’s jeans and her tummy for two weeks to see if there was a stretch panel until the original identification of the jeans was reaffirmed (People.com, 6/23/2015).
After reading all of these comments, articles, blog posts, and tweets about Kate’s body, tummy, and physical appearance, the question I keep coming back to is, is this how I would treat a friend? Is this how I would want to be treated? I’d like to think that part of friendship and respect is sharing. For example: ‘Hey, I LOVE your jeans. Where did you get them?’ But friendship and respect is not two weeks of staring and sneaking into someone’s laundry room to see if they’re still wearing maternity jeans. In other words, I think that the general interest in the brand and make of Kate’s top and jeans is okay and has been in good fun. But some of the comments — both positive (“remarkably slender…in skinny jeans”) and negative (“I think Kate has a bit of a pooch in the lower ab area”) reduces the Duchess down to nothing more than her body, her looks, and her waist size.
Friendship is saying ‘Congrats on the new baby! I’m so happy to see you and you look amazing.’ It’s most decidedly not ‘You look amazing and your looks are the most important thing I care about you.’ Readers, what would Kate do? How would Kate treat her friends?
Note: Quotes in single quotation marks are the author’s own. Please contact author for citations for quotes found in double quotation marks. Citations have not been included in article in order to preserve the anonymity of commentators, but can be provided upon request.