The buzz over Kate Middleton’s baby (third in line to the English throne in case you live in a cave and missed the CNN Breaking News updates!) shows no sign of abating. It’s hard to believe that it’s such big news in 2013, long past the glory days of the monarchy, but the tabloids and even the mainstream press and blogosphere seem to be filled with constant updates.
And constant comments. Some people feel sorry for the Duchess, forced to appear in public, made-up and put together the day after she gave birth. I know many of us mere mortals who don’t bother with clothing (there’s a reason God made robes!), let alone make-up for weeks or even months afterwards. Others feel less compassion. “She knew what she was getting herself into, marrying a prince,” they murmur. “If she accepts the perks, she also has to accept the price.”
But one thing that everyone I know remarked upon, the charitable and the less so, was her stomach. Without exception, everyone I know who saw the picture noticed the size of her belly (maybe I need to re-examine the circles I move in!). Everyone alluded to the fact that she still looked pregnant, that not only was she not back to her pre-pregnancy weight but she barely looked like she had lost anything and boy was she going to have a hard time! Even though, as we know, she had given birth less than 24 hours earlier.
There are numerous problems with our attitude.
In the first place, it’s none of our business. Even though, as mentioned, she has chosen to be a public figure, it should be her actions that count and not her post-pregnancy weigh-in. It speaks to certain shallowness in our society that her weight is our preoccupation.
We’ve clearly missed the point – the child. Pregnancies take a toll – we gain weight, we are nauseated and tired, we have sciatica and heartburn and a host of other ailments. But we do it because we feel that having a child is worth it. Let’s keep our focus on the end game.
Why the obsession with weight at all? What difference does it make whether her (or our) stomach ever returns to the way it was? Will it make us better mothers? More devoted and attentive wives? Why do we care – about her or ourselves? Wouldn’t all the women who struggle with infertility gladly take a little tummy in exchange for their desperately desired child? Aren’t we all appalled when People magazine features actresses who don’t plan to have children because they don’t want to ruin their figures?
We should be embarrassed that we noticed Kate Middleton’s stomach. We should be ashamed that we commented, humiliated that we care.
I guess it makes all of us pudgy, “regular” moms all over the world feel better about ourselves when even a glamorous and usually well-dressed member of the Royal Family doesn’t look perfect, when she looks more like the rest of us – hair and makeup aside. But we shouldn’t care.
We need to feel good about the choices we make for ourselves, physically and spiritually. We need to rejoice in our commitment to parenting as a higher value than a commitment to the perfect flat stomach. We need to feel confident about our priorities. This is where we could actually learn from the Duchess of Cambridge. Perhaps she also felt uncomfortable greeting the public in her less than ideal state. But she didn’t cower in the corner. The demands of her job took precedent. Her pleasure in her new infant was more important, her relationship with her husband and his family the higher value.
Since most of us are not famous, no one is looking at our post-pregnancy paunches (Just how long can one claim to be post-pregnancy anyway? Is 17 years pushing it?!) or other flaws. But it’s Elul. Rosh Hashanah is coming. We need to organize our priorities and evaluate the spiritual work that needs to be done. We can start with ignoring the superficial and re-focusing on what really matters. Although I wouldn’t mind Kate’s dressmaker…