Yes, the world has gone crazy over the royal baby. And people have plenty to say about how this very soft news has eclipsed some other very important news. I could say lots about that, being a journalist myself, but for right now let me just say that even as a journalist who does like to stay informed about vital news events, who doesn’t like to take a little break from all that is depressing and frustrating to enjoy a cute little baby? My own four daughters are now getting sadly far past the baby stage, the youngest now going into first grade (!), and I find myself missing a little bit those sweet days of their infancies. So yeah, I’m feeling a little nostalgic and enjoying the baby photos.
A secondary focus of talk around the blogosphere has been Kate’s post-baby belly. There are many who are applauding her willingness to just let everyone see the reality that is a woman’s belly right after birth: it’s still quite large. I remember looking down at my own belly after giving birth each time and thinking it looked like a huge lump of bread dough (enough for probably four loaves) that had risen for hours and then just been punched down. Soft, squishy, lined and utterly non-sexy. I honestly have to join in and say, thanks, Kate, for not trying to hide that belly. I’m sure with all her resources, she could have minimized its size or shape by dressing a certain way or wearing Spanx or… something. But she didn’t.
On the other hand, other observers have noted it’s sad any of us are focused on the Duchess’s appearance at all. The fact we’re applauding her for her “honesty” just shows we’re still focused as a society on a woman’s appearance rather than other much more important attributes. And I have to say I agree with that as well. (Another point made within this same observation is that aside from the belly, Kate looks pretty darn good: her hair and makeup look great. And not many new moms get that kind of beauty treatment the day after giving birth. Sure, that’s true. But at the same time, how many of us have to step out of the hospital a day after giving birth to show off our baby to billions of people? The fact is, Kate and the whole royal family have a role to play, and when it comes down to it, she’s doing it with a lot of grace. So if she gets stylists to spiff her up a bit for photo ops, so be it.)
But my conclusion is this: we still live in an appearance-obsessed society. I think most of us would like to see that change. I know I would like to make people more aware of just how much we all think about looks, so that’s why I write occasionally about the topic. But I don’t think our society is going to change overnight. I’m OK with “baby steps.” And if Kate, playing the role she does in British society and even on the world stage, feels best about fixing her hair and donning nice makeup and a pretty but simple dress to show off the newest heir to the throne, even while feeling comfortable enough to show off the reality of the post-pregnancy belly, more power to her. The belly is a baby step. I say, focus on the ways we’re making progress, celebrate and applaud those, and then still remember that we can make more progress in the future.