Royal Baby, Royal Body Watch: Fat-shaming post-partum celebrities

Today, CNN published a photo to Facebook of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, leaving the hospital with their newborn baby boy. When it came up in my news feed, I was aghast–not at anything in the photo, but at the comments visible beneath it.

“Why is she so fat?”

“I’m sorry, but thats a BIG post partum tummy.”

“i think they forgot anther baby.”

“is she expecting twins?Its like something still breathing in her belly”

“is she pregnant again?”

“Kate still looks pregnant. is the a second baby?”

“Why she still look prego?”

“Whose kid is he holding? It’s obvious that skank is still pregnant.”

How classy.

Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), Twitter featured more of the same:

“She’s still fat. #KateMiddleTON”

“OMG Kate middleton is fat still!”

“Why is Kate Middleton still fat? What’s left in there?”

“Kate Middleton still looks pregnant. Is that normal? I know there’s ‘baby fat’ after bt it lks like she’s got anthr1 in there.”

As was the case with the criticisms of Marion Bartoli’s looks when she won Wimbledon, these comments about Kate Middleton’s body demonstrate our culture’s misogyny. If a woman doesn’t live up to Western society’s near-impossible beauty ideals–even if she just had a baby the day before–it’s open season on her. Let the potshots commence.

(Even the royal website remarked upon Kate’s body in a post today, mentioning in passing that she “still had a bump under her summer dress“–because, apparently, it’s incongruous enough with her usual appearance to be worth mentioning.)

Considering how many celebrities hide post-partum until they can “flaunt their weight loss,” and because many people seem to have no idea what a post-partum body looks like, it’s terrific that Kate appeared publicly. Her public appearance can be read as an act of self-confidence. But how sad is it that simply appearing in public with her new baby would require self-confidence in the first place? It should be such a simple thing–and yet it isn’t.

Instead, I am continuously disappointed that women’s bodies are under surveillance, endlessly policed, subjected to the harshest scrutiny.

As a friend pointed out in a reply to me on facebook: “Remarking on Kate’s body is unnecessary not only at this time, but ever.”

Rebecca Hains is a professor at Salem State University. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

12 Comments on “Royal Baby, Royal Body Watch: Fat-shaming post-partum celebrities

  1. This.–> “how sad is it that simply appearing in public with her new baby would require self-confidence in the first place?” Yes.

    It really is head-spinning. Spoke w/Claire Mysko about it yesterday, who serves as Clinical Advisor to the Nat’l Eating Disorders Assoc and wrote “Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?” She’s a wealth of knowledge/resources on this absurd and obsessive state of appearance-based media ideals. Le sigh.

    Told her she should be a ‘royal resource’ ’cause Kate’s gonna need it in this media circus. Here’s her link to “Healthy Body Image Tips for Pregnant Women & New Moms” (NEDA) http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/healthy-body-image-tips-pregnant-women-and-new-mothers

  2. The Royal Kate just delivered, I’m no expert or doctor, perhaps she’s swollen or has dressings or padding to prevent “leakage” accidents. why do people jump up to criticize every inch of someone else?? Remember, he who has NOT sinned,- cast the first stone! Ha! That should put an end to this “common” squabble. Remember we are commoners to the Royal Prince & Princess, be gracious, not show your red-neck self! Just be glad they are healthy. In a month. do your body weight check “think” on Kate if that’s your bizarre bag!~~~~

    • you are no expert. women’s uterus do not magically shrink to pre-pregnancy overnight. it is normal and expected to look 6 months pregnant when leaving the hospital due to stretching

  3. I think she looked beautiful. You, of course, still have a belly after giving birth. That doesn’t go away right away!

    I’m glad she came out and showed what a real person looked like after birth. She is beautiful before, during and after pregnancy.

  4. I thought the pair of them looked happy and frazzled, the way new parents ought to look. It’s amazing to me that between royalty and celebrity, the royals are the one’s who end up being more down-to-earth. We really need to start looking at our priorities…and the anonymity of the internet is giving license to people who like being mean or crass just to be funny.

  5. I think Catherine looks like a vibrant happy new mother. She’s beautiful and a lovely person. Everyone expects so much of her, because she married into the royal family. Everyone expects her to be stick thin, with perfect hair and flawless makeup, like some sort of royal robot. She just gave birth for crying out loud! Granted, she looks much better than most mothers the day after pushing out an 8 lb 6 oz baby, but she still just had a baby and is subject to the same laws of nature as every other person earth. Who is stupid enough to think that after being pregnant that immediately everything just goes back to normal? People who obviously never paid attention in high school biology class! Grow up people, Kate doesn’t care what you think. She’s got a family to look after.

  6. I think she looked fabulous. Her face was radiant. She looked free and relaxed in a very stressful situation… Not too many new moms could compete with that! She just went through a life-changing, body-changing experience, and GOOD FOR HER for not being ashamed of it!! She is a courageous woman with obvious high character far beyond any tabloid or negative, shallow comments. I just hope she can let all that garbage talk slide…

  7. It makes no sense why people are commenting on the baby bump. It’s perfectly normal to have a baby bump after you’re pregnant. It’ll take awhile for it to go away.

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