This afternoon, I posted a Facebook status about how amazing, insane, and impressive it is to appear before the entire world fully made-up, in heels, and in a dress in public just 24 hours after delivering a baby. In response, my mom wrote "It's her job to look good."
That gave me major pause. Is it her job to look good? And what is good?
This is an argument that I hear (and have made!) all the time about actresses and models. The whole idea that "I could look like that too if I had a personal chef, trainer, and time to work out!" is totally valid, and true. That's why hearing people like Gwyneth Paltrow claim it's so easy to maintain a size 2 and eat nothing but skinless chicken breast is so maddening. It's not easy for most working people on limited budgets. And actresses and models, whether it's right or wrong, do make a living conforming to conventional beauty ideals—staying thin, wearing makeup, looking youthful, staying on trend. Thus, it makes sense and is important to their careers to invest time and money in this, just like we desk jockeys invest 8 hours a day looking at spreadsheets or whatever we do.
But is this relevant to Kate Middleton? It seems to me that her "job" at this point is to: 1. be a loving mother to her child and a loving wife to her husband (and a mutual recipient of love and respect, of course); and 2. to represent the royal family favorably in Britain and around the world. Why is "looking good" a requirement of this? Apart from looking generally neat, tidy, and conservative, what are her obligations? To be thin? To wear makeup at all times? To wear heels? To not look exhausted after having a baby like a normal human would?
Unlike an actress or a model, Kate essentially fell in love with a person who happened to be a prince. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think she sought out the fame and attention of royalty. While she may have intellectually known what she was getting into, I cannot imagine how overwhelming it is to live it, and I'm not sure she "asked" for all of this simply by loving Will.
What if Will had fallen in love with and married an overweight woman? Or an otherwise conventionally unattractive woman? Would that woman not be doing her "job" by just existing in a less-than-perfect state? What if Kate had gained 50 lbs during pregnancy and never lost it? Is that a breach of her "duty"? Why?!
I don't have a real hypothesis here, and I'm interested in your thoughts. This statement just made me feel very uncomfortable, and I've tried to articulate why. The idea of actresses being obligated to look a certain way already rubs me the wrong way (nobody has an obligation to look like anything for anyone else), but this applied to Kate for some reason gives me even more pause.