Can I just get something off my chest?
I am SICK to the back teeth of seeing “Wahhh feel so sorry for/disappointed in/angry with Kate Middleton for coming out of hospital with her baby all dressed up and in heels with her make up and hair done.”
Get a grip for the love of all that is feminism and GO AWAY.
It’s really struck me that a.) people are angry with Kate Middleton for not conforming to THEIR idea of how a mother should “normally” look after a birth and b.) how indicative I ﬁnd it of internalised misogyny that we as women have over shadowed the fact that a mother is healthy as is her newborn by a discussion of her clothing, hair and make up.
Believe it or not, and I realise that this is a shock to those who haven’t yet realised that everyone is different – it’s a toughie – but every woman deals with birth differently, every woman has different priorities and different ideas of how she would like to give birth, take photos with the baby and even whether she want visitors. For me personally, I popped in to work on the way home from the hospital, I was dressed in my husband’s tracksuit bottoms the ﬁrst time and a VERY stretchy top with my hair scraped back and no make up on, to show off my baby and we always had visitors. I see this whole big blow up over how Kate came out of hospital as yet another show of our culture. Yes, it is to a degree, a part of her job to present the baby, but these women who are angry about her not “being real” are just as insulting as the people who would be offended if she let William do it all without her. There really is no right or wrong here, and I have experience with enough pregnant and postpartum women to tell you that they vary drastically depending on the individual.
When I worked at Mothercare we had SO many different people, some women would have baby and come in the next day (or the same day in one case!) dressed in heels, dolled up and looking like a rock star for their breast pads. Others would have their partner do it because they couldn’t get off the rubber ring or put a boob away, they were knackered and the very thought of putting mascara on was enough to send them over the edge. It seems to me you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. “She didn’t show the reality” really ought to be changed to “she didn’t show the reality I wanted that makes me feel better about my lack of financial ability to hire a stylist and/or ability to give a shit about having one.” When did it become anything other than a woman’s choice? It was NOT uncommon for women to tell me they were hiring hairdressers and make up artists to come and make THEM feel beautiful, and after I had a short rant on Instagram after seeing another bullshit expectation vs reality meme I received tonnes of messages from those exact types of women – the ones who had hired people, asked their mates to come and do their make up and the ones who had jumped off the bed, had a shower, put some slap on themselves and styled their hair. They aren’t less real, it was just their way of clawing back a little bit of themselves and a way of making themselves feel better. Not because of pressure but because they wanted something pampering for themselves, something that gave them a sense of self after harbouring a human being inside their bodies for 9 months.
One of the most common things for me to help expectant mothers with was packing their maternity bags. It might sound silly to some, but some (in fact I dare say the majority) would come in with maternity bag requests for an “attractive dress” for post birth, something loose but that would make them feel beautiful and comfortable. They would need a wash bag for their make up, hair dryer, straighteners etc – not all of them were ﬁrst time mothers either. They weren’t “in for a shock”, this wasn’t their ﬁrst rodeo and they weren’t naive – they just made the decision that they would like to dress up and wear make up. Every woman is different, as is every birth, and this ridiculous narrative of “oh it’s sad she was expected to do this” is counter productive. It’s genuinely frustrated me how many “oh isn’t it a shame” posts I’ve seen.
To me the only shame is that it’s a topic for discussion and yet another time when feminism is being used in a manner that sets us back and is being totally misinterpreted.
The younger royals are challenging the “expectations” of their roles left, right and centre. I, personally, would have LOVED to be able to afford make up artists, hair dressers and to be treated to a pamper post birth, as well as trotting out in a fancy dress. With Reuben I was too ill, with Toby I was too frightened my birth would be as horrendous as it was with Reuben and with Edith I couldn’t afford it. If I had another baby now I can guarantee to you that I would have a fancy “coming home” outﬁt for us both, I would have every intention of doing makeup, hair and maybe even nails whilst the baby was sleeping! As a mum of three it might be the only time I have to do something that makes me feel happy.
Irrespective of what your intention or what you do, when the fuck did it become acceptable to tear down others to make yourself or someone else feel better? When did we decide that it was cool to make a meme or a woman who will have the same baby blues and hormonal responses as every other human and call her fake, a puppet or an unrealistic expectation – a let down to mother’s and an insult to new mums? When? Does that really make you feel amazing? Genuinely? I’m not a fan of the royals, I couldn’t give a hoot, but I do care about fairness and telling new mums that Kate Middleton isn’t real and is giving them the illusion that they should be this way or that is unfair to her and unfair to any woman who has the desire post birth to get dressed up and feel fancy, flip the script and we are telling those new mums that they are less real because they aren’t just snuggling their newborns and bonding – THAT is a guilt trip we need to avoid.
Can we change the narrative back please? Can this be about a healthy woman having a healthy baby and not about her clothing choices and perceived pressures? Can we just attempt to be supportive as mothers and women?
Please and thanks!