Will The New Royal Baby Escape The Media Scrutiny Kate Middleton Faces?
The Debrief: All we know about the new royal baby is that she weighs 8lbs 3oz. Can this be the last time we ever talk about her weight?
A new royal baby is born. Kate and William, the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, now have a daughter to add to their family, making her the first girl in line to the throne since the Queen before her own coronation in 1953. Those are just the formalities. Another formality is the baby's weight: 8lbs 3oz. When a child is born that's the first thing you tend to hear, especially if, as in this case, the name isn't revealed first. Why the weight? Well, there's nothing else to say about the baby yet. The tiny weight of the tot - who can't even open her eyes yet - is the one thing that there is to it, the weight is all there is to most babies. That, and of course, their legacy.
We all know and recognise the legacy of the royal family. We know their faces, their idiosyncrasies, just how posh they are, just how much money they get, just how guarded they need to be. But what so many of us don't seem to have recognised, over the years, that a princess's (or, really, a duchess's) weight, after today is not really our business. But if her the amount of scrutiny she faces every day is anything like that of her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, or that faced by her late grandmother, Princess Diana, then this seems unlikely. Kate Middleton is expected to be the perfect wife and mother, all the while dressed like the perfect clothes horse. Her body, her looks and her demeanour are discussed disected daily. Diana spoke of her bulimia after the effect, but we can see that the media obsession with her body, with photographing it, with wondering if it held another child in it, extended beyond this polite, roundabout request for the pressure on her to allay.
The media might have made its comparisons between Diana and Kate, but as people, at their essence they're not really comparable. What is comparable is the amount of pressure put upon the pair of them to conform. To be fairytale princesses, to live up to our ideals of what an upstanding, respectable woman should be. Thin, smiling, pretty. Just three months ago, certain factions of the press took pot-shots at Kate's natural grey roots. They've also spent the past few weeks belly-chasing Kate, willing for her to give the people what they want and give birth on demand. The media, though waning in influence, still sets the tone for what we think is acceptable to discuss about a famous woman's body.
And then it filters down, to us. The connection between the way celebrities are treated and the way we treat ourselves is evident, especially when it comes to something like faces and bodies - things we all share regardless of our talents or riches. What is also evident, is that there's a change afoot. The recent ASA decision to remove the naff Protein World adverts. The body-positive kickback after Jamelia said 'plus sized' women shouldn't be encouraged. The ways in which women of colour and queer women are gaining louder voices via social media. The movements for women's bodies to be healthy regardless of any plans on childbirth. We all hope for a better, more progressive future, and the world should have changed decades ago. But if everyone can pull up their socks so that the new princess, aged 18 (or younger, knowing some of those pervy 'she's all grown up!' headlines) won't have to begin this onslaught of body analysis, then, well, the royal family we be worth every single penny they're given.
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