Give Meghan - and yourself - a break
I can’t imagine living under as much scrutiny as the royals do, but it isn’t just the fact that we expect our celebrities to always look perfect. It’s also the unrealistic expectations that are fostered onto all women.
When I was a little girl I had a doll that was called the mom doll. It had a little snap on tummy which had a baby doll curled up inside it. We would pretend that she went to the hospital to have her baby and remove the snap on tummy to take the baby out, at which point the doll miraculously went back to having a flat tummy. I loved the doll then, but in retrospect, I think it fostered unrealistic expectations in little girls. Not everyone snaps back to a flat stomach after they give birth.
During pregnancy, a woman’s stomach muscles stretch and expand to accommodate the growing baby, and once she has the baby it could take up to six weeks for the uterus to shrink. Besides this, the post-partum belly won’t magically go back to looking flat and unaltered; a baby has been carried for nine months and then brought into the world – that’s a lot for a body to go through, and it’s perfectly normal to sport a post-partum belly, much the same way that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan, did at her press conference where she and Prince Harry introduced their baby son Archie to the world.
Although there has been some praise for Meghan’s choice of outfit—a sleeveless, cream-coloured trench-style dress with a belt that fastened above her waist—there are others who were critical of her choice of outfit because it highlights her post-partum bump. This is beyond ridiculous. Both Princess Diana and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, chose looser dresses when they introduced their babies to the media, although in Kate’s case, especially, her post-partum bump was perfectly obvious in silhouette. There’s no shame in that; in fact, it’s absolutely normal and is the reality experienced by millions of women who have given birth.
I can’t imagine living under as much scrutiny as the royals do, but it isn’t just the fact that we expect our celebrities to always look perfect. It’s also the unrealistic expectations that are fostered onto all women. Women’s bodies are somehow treated as public spaces and everyone seems to want to have a say. Whether a woman is tall or short, fat or thin, young or old, or whether she is proudly sporting a post-partum bump (those stripes are earned), it’s as though everyone thinks that they have the right to comment. Well, they don’t.
The unrealistic expectations placed on women, and the images that girls are subjected to from the time they are teenagers, lead to body image issues. Girls are bombarded with images of skinny perfect-looking women all made up to the nines and dressed from head to toe in designer wear on television and in magazines; the celebrities that these girls look up to always look faultless whenever they set foot out of doors. It’s hard for girls to understand that there are entire industries that thrive on their insecurities; the fashion and beauty industries, for one, not to mention the glossy magazines and the software products that these magazines use to ensure that the celebrities on their pages look unattainable with perfect bodies and flawless skin. Nobody – not even the celebrities themselves – looks like that. It takes entire teams of people hours to ensure that one person looks as perfect as they can possibly look in photographs. Flaws that remain are touched up and edited out with one click of the mouse.
It’s important to understand that change in society begins with changing ourselves to accept our own blemishes as well as each other’s. Embrace the flaws. Put down the Photoshop brush. Flaunt the post-partum bump. Stop picking up the glossy magazines that make you hate yourself. Understand that you are perfect just the way you are, in all of your amazing imperfection.