One day after Kate, William and new baby George stepped out of the hospital, weekly magazine OK! posted the magazine cover you see above. As you can see, OK! mentions Kate’s post-baby weight in their top headline. Apparently OK! also posted some rude tweets about Kate, talking about the size of her post-baby tummy — though now those tweets have been deleted. The idea of a post-baby weight regimen and the ridiculous OK! tweets really ticked people off and massive outrage broke out around the world. TV presenter Katy Hill launched a campaign asking everyone to boycott OK! using the hashtag #DontBuyOK and thousands of other tweeters joined in to share the message. Journalists and bloggers also joined in on the boycott posting pieces about OK!’s focus on Kate’s stomach. As of two days ago, OK! issued a formal apology noting:
“Kate is one of the great beauties of our age and OK! readers love her. Like the rest of the world, we were very moved by her radiance as she and William introduced the Prince of Cambridge to the world. We would not dream of being critical of her appearance. If that was misunderstood on our cover it was not intended.”
I 100% agree that focusing on a woman’s belly so soon after the birth is an invasion of privacy and sets a very unrealistic standard. Health experts agree that new mothers shouldn’t have nice flat tummies. The Mayo Clinic notes that “It might take six months or even longer to return to your pre-pregnancy weight” safely, while other health organizations state it may take 9 months or more to take off the baby weight. This in mind, Kate’s belly has been seen as a revolution to many, especially in a era where all we seem to see are super skinny moms who have just given birth. All this said, I also see a smidge of overreaction here. Some tweets and articles have been extreme, such as:
- Calling OK!‘s cover “Horrifying!” and “Dangerous and disgusting”
- “Thinking about her diet is the last thing Kate should be doing.”
- “Weight doesn’t matter!”
The problem is that while unrealistic postpartum weight loss clearly puts too much pressure on moms, it’s also unrealistic to call issues like postpartum weight loss, “Horrifying, dangerous or unimportant.” OK!‘s tweets were rude no doubt. OK! printing something as realistic as how to lose baby weight safely, is hardly horrifying though. (Even though the timing was off — couldn’t they wait a bit longer to start talking about weight loss?) Pregnancy blogs and magazines across the world print postpartum exercise plans every day. Midwives and doctors talk at length about this with pregnant patients. And why? Because it’s healthy (not dangerous) for new moms and their babies to follow a healthy diet. It’s healthy (not horrifying) for new moms to slowly begin to get active. Healthy diets and activity are issues that actually do matter because they can affect current health and a woman’s health during subsequent pregnancies.
Should Kate and Kate alone be called out as a role model for postpartum women everywhere? Hardly – now that’s pressure. Yet most of the tweets against OK! also said stuff like, “Kate is so brave” or “Thanks Kate for showing off your post-baby belly.” Hundreds of articles before she had her baby called her out as a “good” role model for remaining healthy and fit during her pregnancy as well. People clearly see her as a role model, so it’s not unlikely that women are also interested in what she’ll be doing to stay healthy now that she has given birth to her son. OK!‘s negative tweets about Kate’s belly are directly putting pressure on her, unrealistically, but then so are all the tweets putting pressure on her to continue to be a good role model to the average woman. Ideally, maybe everyone should just leave her alone to enjoy her new son.