LOS ANGELES – It has been a few days since the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, gave birth to and presented the future King of England – Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. But the moment she and husband William stepped out with their first child, it was the new mom’s physical appearance and “post partum body” that instantly became a talking point in tabloids, blogs and social media platforms.
“Why Does Kate Middleton Still Have Her Baby Bump?” screamed one headline, as another quipped: “Kate Middleton's royal baby post-bump is a boost of confidence for new mums everywhere.” One fashion blogger wrote “in all honesty, the dress was not pleasing to the eye, neither was the stomach. I hope she gets her post-maternity-bod soon,” while another tweeted “how can she look so pretty just after giving birth.”
According to data provided by Yahoo!, scores of Middleton body-related search terms clogged the engine this week, everything from “diet,” and “post baby bump” to “belly,” “stomach,” and “why does Kate Middleton still look pregnant.”
But could all the chatter over how Middleton chose to “expose” her “mummy tummy” in a cornflower blue and polka-dot bespoke Jenny Packham dress be a signal that society’s obsession with looks is putting unrealistic stress on mothers and women?
“The media’s neuroticism over Kate’s post-pregnant looks is brainwashing women into thinking that they will constantly be judged and criticized unless they meet the new standard – unattainable perfection,” human behavior expert Patrick Wanis PhD, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “The obsession with the perfect female body is spiraling out of control.”
British-born celebrity life and career strategist Suzannah Galland also noted that the hoopla surrounding Middleton’s aesthetic “is truly offensive for anyone to exploit a woman’s body, no matter what our condition,” and that it “sends out an empty message that female beauty needs to be redefined.”
On the same day Middleton gave birth, U.K’s OK! Magazine unveiled its latest issue with a photo of the Duchess accompanied by the headline: “Kate’s Post-Baby Weight Loss Regime,” complete with a six-page spread about how the royal figure intends to return pre-pregnancy physique along with a weight loss plan.
The tabloid’s cover story drew strong condemnation, thus a rep was forced to defend the decision.
“Like the rest of the world, we were very moved by her radiance as she and Prince William introduced the Prince of Cambridge to the world. We would not dream of being critical of her appearance,” said a rep for the magazine’s parent company, Northern & Shell. “If that was misunderstood on our cover it was not intended.”
However, it was Middleton’s decision to don a dress that clearly showed off her “bump” that had many praising the new mother for her “bravery,” while professionals in the medical and childcare industry explained why the Duchess looked the way she did.
“It takes around 10 days for the womb to contract back to its normal size,” Clare Byam-Cook, a childcare expert, told the Daily Mail while the founder of parenting website Netmums, Siobhan Freegard, gave her props for “dispelling the myth that all mothers should be perfect post-partum,” although she also stated that “over the coming weeks the duchess will work hard to regain her figure.”
The Daily Beast’s royal correspondent Tom Sykes also went on to declare that “this thoroughly modern royal was apparently determined to lend a helping hand to women everywhere who have just given birth, and shatter one of the last taboos of pregnancy – the post-baby belly.”
And while much of the coverage surrounding Middleton’s hospital showing praises her for being “so brave” as to dare bare her belly instead of hiding beneath a tent-like dress, or because she didn’t recoil from the spotlight altogether the way most Hollywood stars do, (we haven’t seen too much of Kim Kardashian lately), experts say enough is enough.
“The focus should be on how she feels as a mother and the love and nurturing she will express as well as the bond between her and her newborn rather than whether or not she still looks hot,” Wanis added. “And hot for whom?”