Like most everyone else in the civilized world, I was happy to hear the news of the birth of royal baby number two this weekend.
But as soon as I saw photos of the perfectly coiffed Duchess of Cambridge smiling and waving in front of the cameras just hours after giving birth–complete with designer dress, full face of make-up, perfect blow-out, and Jimmy Choo heels (!)–I couldn’t help but feel …. disappointed, and even a little sorry for Kate Middleton.
We all understand that Kate has a team of stylists, and that no one on Earth (except maybe a Kardashian) could or should attempt to look that put together after labor. But as I watched Kate looking like she stepped off of a London Fashion Week runway rather than a hospital ward, I just wondered why she would want to do that? Maybe the truth is that she had no choice on the matter.
The after-birth period is–to put it mildly–messy. There’s a lot of stuff coming out of a lot of places that stuff doesn’t usually come out of. Let’s leave it at that.
I know that 10 hours after giving birth to my kids I could barely walk without the help of the hospital nurses. I couldn’t gather up the energy to change out of my (less than couture) hospital gown. My feet were covered only with hospital socks, and I basically alternated between trying to nurse and trying to sleep and eat.
Could I have slipped on a pair of Jimmy Choos (and tights!) and a Jenny Packham dress and smiled for the cameras? You’ve got to be kidding me. I needed to recuperate, to spend time snuggled up with baby, and to let my body heal. The idea of having to undergo hours of hair and makeup at that point is unbearable. (Having to put on a dress and some lipstick for my son’s bris eight days later was hard enough.)
After the first royal baby was born, I was pleasantly surprised to see how Kate came out in a dress that did nothing to hide the small belly she still had–and every mother on Earth still has–even after the baby’s born.
But this time around, it looked as though Kate had morphed more into a Kate-bot of the Stepford variety. She’d successfully covered up all the (natural) messiness of childbirth with great hair and just-too-perfect makeup.
The larger issue is that Kate missed an opportunity here. I’ve written about the importance of being honest to other moms after labor, and I’m sorry, Kate, but those photos were not honest.
What if she could have taken her platform to show the truth about labor? (Maybe she still will in a tasteful TV interview, but I’m not holding my breath.)
I’m not saying she should’ve come out looking bedraggled in a hospital gown and mesh underwear (hooray for mesh underwear, by the way). I know I for one was annoyed at my husband for sending out a less-than-flattering photo of me to a mere dozen or so people after the birth of our first child (if anyone still has those, please burn).
But what if she’d waited another day to come out in front of the media? What if she’d sent William out to make a statement and show off the cute baby and say that his wife was happy and healthy and resting?
I respect the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may have chosen to leave the hospital so soon after labor to put an end to the chaos that surrounded them while they were there, but couldn’t they have snuck out a back door? Couldn’t Kate have kept her stretchy pants on a little bit longer and shown off cute baby Charlotte in a few days? Couldn’t she have at least worn flats?
It may be unrealistic to expect this from a royal family, but for the rest of us plebians, I say here’s to the messy life.