Long before she became a global phenomenon, people had opinions about Kate. Opinions which weren't always positive or flattering. At the time I didn't understand people who could criticize someone they had never met. I usually thought that people who were critical of Kate were 'haters'. Over time I've come to realize that not everyone who expresses a critical opinion of her is jealous or a hater. Mainly because I too have become a Kate critic.
Taking Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig as examples, expressing a critical opinion about Kate is obviously risky. Mantel has said that doing so has made her a hate figure. Both have had their looks and lifestyles ripped apart and blasted for being jealous. Kate is young, beautiful, wealthy and privileged and they're not. Why else would they criticize her? When maybe, just maybe, they're expressing an opinion of her. Whether people like that opinion or not.
If you notice, the media very rarely says anything critical about Kate. You would think she walks on water. Which is why when there is criticism, however valid it might be, it stands out in stark contrast. Suddenly the person is jealous/a hater. You can be critical of something/someone without being jealous of it/them right? It should be common sense. If I say I don't like a public figure, for whatever reason, does that mean I am jealous, or am I expressing my opinion? Why does this change when discussing Kate? Would people respond the same to a criticism of Prince Andrew?
This is not to say that people don't hate Kate. There are definately people who are jealous of her. I have read some vitriolic comments on message boards. Creative conspiracy theories about her family. It is amazing how some can hate someone they have never met. On the other hand, I have also read some saccharine articles and comments. It is amazing that some people can love someone they've never met just as much as some people who hate her. When it comes to an opinion about Kate, the middle ground doesn't exist.
I have read that Kate fans supposedly outnumber the critics. Forget the people who are indifferent. They probably outnumber both camps combined. Considering there are 7 billion people on earth, I don't recall a survey about Kate, do you? It is as if everyone, by default, is supposed to love her and worship the ground she walks on. But if you don't happen to feel that way (and say it out loud) well then you must be jealous/have no life/embittered etc. In absence of a constructive counter argument, that seems to be the default response to people who criticize Kate.
I have followed Kate closely since 2007 but I have never held a slavish devotion to her. Certainly I am interested but not enough to emulate her every move. Since her marriage I admit that I have become more critical of her. While there is no denying she dresses well and has nice hair, I honestly do not like the way she is portrayed in the media as nothing more than a clothes horse who is expected to never voice an opinion. I don't like it. And I don't like that the British royal family seems to sanction that one dimensional image. Do I hate Kate? No. I'm just disappointed because Kate herself seems to allow it. The fact that people like Hilary Mantel and Sandi Toksvig get attacked for their opinions disappoints me even more. I highly doubt Prince Charles' critics have this problem.
Like it or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion of Kate. Even those who hold critical ones.
© Marilyn Braun 2013
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