Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have already heard the good news: The British royal family has welcomed their newest member! Prince William and Duchess Kate gave birth to a little boy on Monday, and the entire world is already in love.
As with most things royal, the family’s every move is being tracked and scrutinized, for better or worse. The press posted outside of the hospital, awaiting their first glimpses of the newest sweetheart of Britain and his parents. When they did appear, Kate and William were all smiles holding their son, wrapped in white. The public was abuzz, as usual, discussing Kate’s choice of outfit: a beautiful bright red dress and her signature heels.
It’s no secret that British royalty is expected to look well-groomed and polished at all times. Every time Kate emerges from the hospital, usually just hours after giving birth, she is pulled together and glowing (which amazes me!). No yoga pants and messy bun for this princess!
Here’s the thing. Kate dons her royal responsibilities with such grace, I think the world is astounded and fascinated by her. Everything about her public persona is policed by expectation: her (lack of) public displays of affection with her husband, the color nail polish she can wear (nudes only), and even the way she holds a teacup!
There is one thing surrounding the royal pregnancy and birth, though, that I cannot get past: peoples’ utter confusion about her postpartum belly. I can’t count the number of comments and articles I’ve seen over the past several years to the tune of, “Why does Kate still look pregnant?” or “Why is her belly so large?” This birth is no different, unfortunately.
And here’s the reason I love her: I’m pretty sure she chooses to display her belly proudly to get the conversation started; to demystify a woman’s body after birth. Her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, while incredibly beautiful as she presented herself and her babies post-birth, chose to hide her postpartum belly under a tent-like dress. I would venture to say that many of us chose to do the same in the days, weeks, and even months after birth. It’s, culturally, not something we are proud of, and as evidenced by peoples’ reactions to Kate’s body, many people are not aware that it takes about a month for a woman’s uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size.
So Kate, who calculates every move she makes, and who dresses and acts so intentionally, displays her post-baby belly. No large, flowy dresses, no shielding herself with her arms, baby, or husband. After George was born, she even wore a flattering empire-waist dress and tucked her hands underneath her now-empty stomach, as if to frame it! And I must say, I love her for it.
In a time where celebrities hide from the limelight immediately after giving birth and re-emerge, post-tummy tuck and crazy workout regimen, on the front cover of glamour magazines whose titles say things like, “How I got my pre-baby body back in 30 days!”, it’s incredibly refreshing to see a woman who, while done up, isn’t afraid to let her body be what it is.
It’s a great rule of thumb to refrain from ever commenting on a pregnant and postpartum woman’s body. In such a vulnerable time, the last thing we need to be thinking about is other peoples’ perception of our physical beauty. Kate looks like she’s doing a wonderful job of basking in the afterglow of meeting her newest little one… and also proving a point. Bravo, Kate!
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.