hat Meghan Markle. She is doing pregnancy all wrong. Alert the foetus police (otherwise known as the popular press) to pore over the ways in which she is “flaunting” her baby bump. Yes, this is 2019 and the shaming of a pregnant woman’s body is dressed up as commentary and vague concern. Apparently, she touches her pregnant belly, cradles it and strokes it as pregnant women do. Maybe I am guessing just as much as everyone else, but perhaps she does it because she is on public display and she feels protective and a bit vulnerable.
She is not allowed to have those feelings, though, because her job is to breed in captivity. The Duchess of Sussex is public property as far as the media are concerned. Pregnant women will often tell you that complete strangers tell them how to behave. Complete strangers also refuse to offer pregnant women seats on trains or buses, but that’s another issue. Meghan, who was “welcomed” into the royal family in a mood of self-congratulatory “tolerance” (aren’t we wonderful for liking a beautiful woman of mixed heritage?), has been shoved back into her place since she returned from honeymoon. She is uppity (ie non-white) and is said to be feuding with vanilla Kate and even the late Diana. She is that much of a witch.
The subtext is that she is devious. “Duchess uses these sneaky tricks to flaunt her baby bump” a headline in the Express read. Had she stuffed a pillow up her dress? No. Apparently, when she has a coat on, she opens it so you can see her bump. Burn her!
Meghan’s crime is mainly wearing clothes in which her bump can be seen – as most expectant women do. They don’t like this at the Mail, referring instead to “maternity brands”. The floral smocks of 1959 would be more up its street, than Givenchy. In one piece last month, the Mail assembled a ragbag of “experts” to explain a “subject that has got the nation talking”. These experts explain the different kinds of “holds” Meghan has around her bump and are asked “to explain why she does it so often in public”. Liz Jones, who is an expert on pregnancy in the same way I am an expert on ponies, took it personally and found the cradling to be “virtue signalling as though the rest of us barren harridans deserve to burn alive in our cars”. Meghan, what are you are even doing being pregnant? It’s upsetting the horses.
All of this speculation is fantastically mad. There is no stage of a women’s life when her body can just be. The poor old Duchess of Cambridge was made to pose with her blowdry and baby just a few hours after giving birth. Figures are meant to “snap back” into shape.
Meghan is being treated like a surrogate – as all royal women are. Far from bringing some modernity into the monarchy, all this tabloid fixation with her pregnancy reminds us that she has entered an abusive relationship: the one between the royals and the popular press – in which the misogyny is so ramped up that whatever she does is somehow suspect.
The duchess is enjoying pregnancy, according to her stylist. I hope this is so, because the ways she is being scrutinised are simply shameful.