in search of perfection

You may have noticed a small amount of media coverage recently about some important baby or other being born in a swanky London hospital to a lovely looking high-society couple in a big Range Rover. You would have to have been in a tedium-induced sleep to have missed each exciting development as it happened, such as ‘big door remains closed’, ‘man opens door, sticks head out, goes back in again’, ‘door is still closed’, for about 14 hours as the world waited for their first tantalising glimpse of the swaddled infant who would one day be King. At no point was it mentioned that the little Prince had the honour of sharing my birthday, but I was happy to let him steal my thunder just this once.

As Kate and William finally emerged from behind the big door the world’s media had being training their cameras on for the last day and a half, they were greeted with screams normally reserved for teenage girls at One Direction concerts, and the amount of flash photography should have come with a health warning. Little George gave a suitably regal wave to his adoring public and the images of the new family were soon being broadcast on a loop on every news channel of most countries in the world. Then the scrutiny began.

‘Royal Commentators’ and other people who like to give opinions nobody asked for were soon all over the coverage, giving their insights into how much Kate was emulating Princess Diana by wearing that dress, what a wonderful ‘new mother’ glow she had, and how she still seemed to be showing a bump despite no longer having a baby inside her. How was this possible? What on earth was she doing sporting a maternity dress when surely she should be looking fabulous in size 8 jeans? Evidently she was going to have to do something about this hideous oversight.

OK! Magazine seemingly agreed as their ‘Royal Baby Special’ issue was released and almost instantly widely condemned as they led with ‘Kate’s Post-Baby Weight Loss Regime’ on their cover. Surely ‘super-fit’ Kate would be able to pull off some miracle of human physiology as her alleged personal trainer assured us her stomach would ‘shrink straight back’. Now here she was in front of the cameras a full 24 hours after giving birth and she still looked like an enormous pregnant woman. When did this disgraceful obsession with mothers in the public eye attaining the media’s idea of perfection start? Charles and Diana were married a week after I was born in 1981, and Prince William arrived the following year. In amongst the huge news coverage at the time, I doubt there was as much talk about how quickly Diana would fit back into her best cocktail dress.

Today’s women’s magazines such as OK! are unquestionably the worst offenders when it comes to making their own readers feel inadequate, as they place female celebrities on a pedestal of perfection which the ‘average’ woman could only dream of reaching. At the same time they are more than ready to vilify any woman in the public eye who is considered too fat, too thin, has too much cellulite or, shock horror, bags under her eyes. Poor Kate Middleton has been criticised in the past for being ‘too thin’ by the same magazines which are now encouraging her to get back to the pre-pregnancy figure they once complained about.

It took me 8 months after having my son to feel ready and motivated enough to do something about my baby-weight, and nobody pressured me into it. I think parents have a duty to look after themselves and be as healthy as they can be for their children, and mums often feel better for losing the excess and toning up, but the absolute worst reason for trying to get out of the maternity clothes is because a judgemental magazine editor tells you that you should. Kate, along with us ‘average’ mums, should ignore their opinionated preaching and get on with being a good parent. The occasional cream cake won’t hurt.

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