Friday, March 11, 2011

Kate Middleton, say goodbye to your self-image

It was inevitable. Since the engagement Kate Middleton's self-image has become fair game for the public.

Regardless of how much pride she takes in it, her self-image may become extinct now that she's about to become a public figure.  It takes a strong woman to hang on to it. In the face of ruthless criticism about her appearance, it would be understandable if she forgoed her instincts and started playing to the crowds. How to please them otherwise?

Prince William and Catherine Middleton visit AngleseyCase in point. Recent appearances have led to concerns about her weight and how much thinner she's become. In the run-up to the wedding she can't be blamed for wanting to look her best in front of a billion people. But now she's too thin and we've all become Jewish mothers, at the ready to nag her about it. But let her gain a pound after the wedding and we'll all become diet experts tut-tutting about how she's letting herself go. Or maybe she'll be pregnant and we'll move on to her maintaining a healthy weight until the Royal babe arrives. She'll then be expected to look model thin as she departs the hospital. Woe betide her if she isn't.

A few weeks back, Liz Jones from the Daily Mail wrote an article which dissected Kate from head to toe. Some agreed with her assessment, some didn't. If she turned that intense spotlight on your appearance, would you be able to withstand it? I know I wouldn't.

The obsessive focus on Diana's appearance should act as a parable and a warning of what can happen to a woman in the public eye. Yet despite her eating disorder (or maybe even because of it) Diana was seen as a fashion icon. Her self image became wrapped up in attempting to exceed our expectations of her. Like Diana, Kate will be expected to be the perfect image of a princess, wife, mother and future queen. Dressing the part but not letting on about the reality of being the new royal superstar.

At 29 Kate is older and wiser than Diana when she married into the royal family. Many people see this as an advantage but with the enormous scrutiny her role brings, if Kate hangs on to her self-image it will be a miracle. Unfortunately it won't be because of us.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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