Monday, February 25, 2013

No need to defend Catherine Cambridge, she can take care of herself

This past week there has been some amazing commentary about Hilary Mantel's lecture, Royal Bodies. Everything from how people have ignored the context of her speech to defending Catherine's honor. Those who defend cherry picking from Catherine's past: her university education (she reads!), the positive public reaction to her appearances (she's not plastic, she's warm!), she dated William for nine years (she is ambitious - a sign of character). All cited as evidence of how wrong Mantel is about her. A veritable litany of 'everyone likes Catherine, what is your problem.' Even Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to defend her. Looking back on the coverage, if there is anything that this week of debate has reinforced for me, number one is:

Do NOT criticize Catherine in any way, shape or form (even if you did not intend your words to be critical of her).

It's true. Had Hilary Mantel's speech included words of open praise about how wonderful Catherine is and everything she touches turns to gold, it would have gotten lost in the pile of praise. Mantel would have been lauded, a successful author not breaking the cardinal rule about writing or even speaking about Catherine.  Which is:

Do NOT criticize Catherine in any way, shape or form (even if you did not intend your words to be critical of her).

You will live to regret it. Your appearance will be dragged through the mud. You will be called jealous not to mention blamed for people taking further interest in what you have to say by buying your books. Forget Mantel's previous success, it is all part of a devious plan, right?

The defensive, knee-jerk reaction to the speech made me think. This is not the first time Catherine has been criticized, nor will it be the last. Why does Catherine need to be defended? Certainly she is a nice, polite person but she is not a sacred cow. And while she may not be allowed to respond in kind, she should be used to criticism by now. According to some, she needed a thick skin to get Diana's ring on her finger.

Instead of releasing a statement that she was 'disappointed' about Mantel's lecture (if she was even aware of it to begin with), Catherine did what she does best. She let her appearance speak for her. A much heralded and anticipated public appearance became a moment to prove Mantel wrong. Catherine - so strong, keeping her head up, calm, collected, stylish, not betraying a flicker of irritation at Mantel's words. Smoothing the dress over her 'royal bump,'' as if to say, 'I know this is what you want to see.'

It was a masterful performance. Appearing calm, collected, stylish, ignoring the controversy of the moment. Catherine does it so well. People remark about it all the time, calling it 'not putting a foot wrong.' During this recent appearance did we expect anything different from her? Wouldn't she have smiled and patted her bump the same way, regardless?

If she had any thoughts about Mantel's speech she wasn't telling us. She has no voice of her own, and she isn't expect to. Opinion is divided on why but the blame is usually laid at the doorstep of everyone but her. No voice to respond to criticisms about her work ethic. True Catherine is just starting out in her royal life, she cannot be expected to become a respected, hard working member of the royal family overnight. But looking at the coverage focusing on her pregnancy and what she wears, you would think those are the only thing she has going for her.

Surely Catherine must be aware of this? Isn't it time she did something about it? Why not let her work speak for her?

When she lets her work speak for her instead of what she wears or who she is married to, then she will provide people with less obvious ammunition to criticize her. Then she will no longer be exclusively portrayed as someone pretty whose main role is providing an heir and supporting the British fashion industry. The interest in her fashions is understandable but in the long term, how fulfilling will it be for Catherine on a personal level?

As if responding to the criticism about her work ethic, Clarence House released more specific information about the meetings and work she does behind closed doors. It is a long overdue move in the right direction. Announcing more patronages and openly supporting them more frequently is another. It is not good enough to tell us she is working behind the scenes. She needs to show us. Then there will be no need for others to defend her. She will have shown she can take care of herself.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kate Middleton: The sacred cow of the moment

Kate Middleton...err..Catherine Cambridge cannot put a foot wrong...

She is beautiful, everything a princess is supposed to be...

She is a style icon in the making and every woman wants to be her...

 Even her natural fear of childbirth is to be noted, evidence of her humanity.

But woe betide anyone who dares to state differently. Or in this case, points it out the obvious without sugar coating it.

Leave that to the people who adore her. They know best and can say it better. Discuss, in serious tones, that she is primarily known for her appearance and requirement ability to breed and you are blasted because you are so jealous you can't think straight. *Gasp!* Criticism? (However valid it might be?) That's irrational. After all, you don't know her now do you?

Neither do the people who praise her. Those referred to as 'sycophants'. Praising for no other reason that she is has married into the royal family, she is pretty and now she is fertile. She sells clothes. What she does is not nearly as important as how she looks. Until Kate lets her work speak for her, what else is there to say?

True, there is vicious criticism of her online. Just as there is cavity inducing praise. A well thought out critical argument is now a 'venemous attack'. It goes against the script, the fairy tale. Anything critical can be spun. An ill-timed, expensive vacation becomes a well deserved 'baby moon'. Spending too much on clothes? Part of the job. And the ultimate criticism. Her work ethic. Suddenly akin to a four letter word. How dare she be asked to become a working royal? Let's make it more palatable by calling it 'supporting her charities' instead. Try this:

Catherine needs to work more vs. Catherine needs to 'support her charities more frequently'.

Go ahead, explain the reasons she doesn't 'support her charities more'.

There is no denying that she looks nice and wears clothes well. Was she chosen for her appearance? Because she carries herself well? Doesn't hurt. Had she weighed 160 pounds I highly doubt people would ignore it. Then it would become 'why would William choose someone who looks like that'? Kate is praised for being 'just like us', accessible, every woman. But now every woman doesn't have a muffin top, do they?

Much like Sarah Ferguson and Diana, Catherine is the sacred cow of the moment. Someone who can do no wrong.

For now...

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How do you draw the line at royal privacy when others keep moving it?

Well, a few weeks back I asked for a royal scandal didn't I?

Okay, so no one has abdicated, or died or came out of the closet. (Geez, work with me people!) This time round it is just some photographs of Catherine's bump in a bikini frolicking on the beach with his/her parents to be.

*Gasp* Shock, horror!

Okay, maybe these photos are not that scandalous but if this is all I have to work with then so be it.

Photos of William and Catherine on holiday are nothing new. Photos of Catherine in a bikini, are also nothing new. So it was rather predictable that we would get photos of this holiday too. Inevitable. So predictable that if you bet money on whether there would be holiday photos you would win every time.

In this instance we have most of the ingredients for a semi-royal scandal. While no one has yet to tearfully express contrition, we do have columnists writing interesting opinion pieces about the press and privacy and how William should pick his battles. Some columnists gloss over the privacy issue and compliment Catherine how how beautiful she looks. So far royal reaction has been rather muted. Merely a statement expressing 'disappointment'. A true royal scandal has someone described as 'incandescent with rage' or 'seething'.  Note the difference.

Yes, it is all a fascinating insight into the continuing saga of William and Catherine's privacy. In the past I was frustrated and annoyed when I would see photos of Catherine off duty. Sometimes I felt I was the only one expressing indignation while others were completely okay with it. The pictures were fun, harmless, right? Not only that, we could use them to discuss what she was wearing. Forget privacy, where did she get those shoes from?

I've always felt, and I've stated this before, that to truly respect Catherine and William's privacy, no photos of them should be published when they are off duty. They are in private and deserve privacy. This should be rather straightforward, no? I'm well aware this isn't realistic but if those photos are OK the it was only a matter of time before we expected more. People pay lip service to the memory of Diana, while being just as invasive. People decide when they think the paparazzi have crossed the line and when they haven't. Some things seem to be okay, but yet others are not. For instance.

Photos of Catherine walking her dog are OK
Photos of her shopping are OK
Photos of her going for coffee are OK
Photos of her sunbathing topless are bad.
Photos of William and Catherine strolling on a beach with their dog in Wales are OK.
Photos of William and Catherine strolling on a beach in a Mustique are bad. (Maybe if the dog was there it would be okay?)

And how do people justify all of these incidents?

William and Catherine are in PUBLIC. Public being defined as being outdoors where people can see them. Does the location matter? Not really. Remember, they're outdoors and depending on how you feel about it, they don't own the locations they're photographed in, now do they? In effect, William and Catherine are fair game.

It seems that the the less clothing they have on, the more the outrage increases. Apparently it's okay to take pictures of them in public as long as they leave something to our imagination.

Interesting how people who justify the other incidents express indignation at these photos without realizing the public role in creating an appetite for them. Suddenly William and Catherine's privacy has been violated and someone else is to blame. (By the way. I call BS on people who claim they didn't search for the photos or look at them, citing 'respecting their privacy'.)

So I give up! I officially declare that I am now, deliberately, part of the problem (I always was but didn't want to admit it to myself until now.) Not because I dislike theses pictures, but because the line for their privacy keeps shifting. Because it does not stay in one place, it is very difficult to decipher where it truly belongs when one appearance in public is okay but another appearance in public is wrong.

When someone permanently draws a line in the sand about this issue, let me know.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Catherine Cambridge is one step closer to sainthood

It's official. Since April 29th, 2011, Catherine Cambridge is the greatest person who has ever deigned to walk the earth amongst us.

We want her nose, clothes, hair, teeth and to get pregnant at the same time. Even her dog is better than yours. Don't believe me? Read this and weep at how inadequate we are in comparison. Thankfully she isn't a full time royal yet, so your work ethic is safe. Just don't get complacent.

Irrefutable proof of
our inadequacy
Everything Catherine touches turns to gold. No one goes shopping like she does. Or holds a cup of coffee with such je ne sais quoi.  she never spills and always recycles. She breathes with an √©lan that we can only breathlessly admire. When she gives birth, there will be no need to read the news. A star will be above the hospital guiding us to the blessed child, whose receiving blanket will sell out once he/she appears in it.

Catherine will be the perfect mother, or so we will be told. Never shall an impatient thought cross her mind. The child's diapers will be sweet. The contents capable of bringing world peace. Tied with Baby Jesus for halo size and awe inspiring serenity. He/She is already wealthier than you can ever dream of being. But this pales in comparison to having Catherine as the most perfect mother. Ever.

Yes. Catherine is the best person who ever lived. Or so we are told. When it comes to our opinions, there is no middle ground. Those who praise are sycophants, those who are critical are jealous. Only Catherine, high on her pedestal, is above it all. 

We only need to read the news to see who placed her there.

© Marilyn Braun 2013

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.