The media is all a flutter regarding Katie Couric’s comments about the Duchess of Cambridge.
An audience member asked Couric who her dream interview would be. “Kate Middleton,” the host replied before adding: “I think she needs to eat more, though because she’s so thin”.
Well, if the memories of Diana’s bulima are uncomfortable, all I can say is that they should be. They all knew what she was doing but were only concerned that she put on a good public face and keep her issues to herself. Diana’s pain is not something that should be forgotten or locked away because they teach a very valuable lesson – regardless of how much you have or achieved, unless you love yourself, you will always be unhappy. They also teach the harm of airbrushed and heavily photoshopped images in media and body policing. One does not simply wake one day and decide that one’s body is inferior. These are messages that are internalised over the years. When girls as young as eight talk about wanting to go on diets, that should be sending a message that what is happening is dangerous and sweeping it under the rug is not going to change anything.
I was particularly disgusted with the idea that Duchess of Cambridge’s body size has been suggested as the reason she is not yet pregnant. Though she may be expected to have a child that does not mean that Kate is any rush to comply with public thoughts on her reproduction. For all anyone knows, she could wake up each morning and take her birth control pill, like many women. I find it interesting that though it takes two people to have a baby, that the problem is automatically assumed to be Kate’s fault. Has no one ever heard of a low sperm count? For all we know, her husband could be impotent. Everywhere we turn something is deemed wrong with Kate’s body and that is a problem. It’s always about living up to the expectations of the public, to the point of being denied any bodily integrity.
In many ways Kate will live and die in privilege because of her marriage but what she has in common with all women is gender and body policing. We may all experience it differently due to various factors, be none of us can deny that it continues to be an issue in our lives thanks to patriarchy. Would it really be so hard to have a world in which women weren’t constantly put on trial because of their size and shape? It’s not emotionally healthy and in extreme cases, the consequence is death.