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the post-baby baby bump

Image: Christopher Neve

Image: Christopher Neve

In a blue polka-dot dress Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton stood on the steps of Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital holding baby George. Seems like a straight-forward scene. But this entirely simple act of introducing the newest royal to the world via the media has sparked wild debate about Kate’s post-delivery baby bump.

OK magazine ran the gauntlet setting out a weight loss regime that was rapidly torn down on Twitter to the extent that they have now issued an apology after the massive #dontbuyok Twitter campaign.

Kate was then praised for raising the self-esteem of women all over the world by not being afraid to reveal herself with her post-delivery belly clearly showing.

Online blogs have credited her with doing ‘more for new mums’ self-esteem than any other role model.’ They have speculated that Kate deliberately chose a dress that was relatively figure-fitting, curving around her still-prominent belly to highlight an important but often overlooked fact about a woman’s figure post-pregnancy.

Interested or not, it has been hard to escape the images of post-delivery Kate Middleton, and it will be interesting to see if those pictures are as lasting and socially important as those of Demi Moore who posed with her large, bare pregnant belly on the cover of Vanity Fair  in 1991.

Sociologist Dr Meredith Nash described Moore’s photo shoot as a ‘watershed moment.’

‘Since then baby bump photo shoots have become quite popular among women generally. But it’s a very different story for post-natal women,’ she said.

In the days prior to Kate Middleton giving birth BBC News covered a story about a woman taking back control of post birth body image. Jade Beall, a new mother based in Tucson, Arizona went into her studio with her five-week-old baby, and took a series of nude photos that will form part of a larger project.

Beall who began the photographic project, believes that if a celebrity were to do a kind of Demi Moore shoot for postnatal women, maybe attitudes would start to change.

Are the photos of Kate, albeit fully clothed, a trigger for this change in attitudes, a 2013 watershed moment?

Dr Nash argues that pictures in and of themselves do not create social change and in a context where body image is just one small part of a whole world of changes that comes with motherhood these images can, ‘actually put more pressure on women to feel good about themselves.’

No doubt the sight of Kate still carrying a bump after childbirth will have warmed the hearts of some mums under pressure to regain their figure. But there is also the pressure of the perfection of Kate that is inescapable, and it should not be ignored that her flowing locks and immaculate make-up were put in place by a personal stylist.

Kate Middleton has been reported to say, ‘It’s such a special time. I think any parent will know what this feeling feels like.’ And in a gesture towards non-celebrity mothers, another photo project has stemmed from this episode in the life of the royals.

The Daily Mirror has received so many photos of normal mums and their brand new babies it has had to stop accepting pictures. In the context of the royal birth and a wider discussion of female body image, it is a lovely celebration of shared and common experience.

What do you think of the post-baby bump?

Was it a feminist move?

Or is such public scrutiny of Kate’s body a symbol of our collection obsession over the female form?

Let us know in the comments below!


One thought on “the post-baby baby bump

  1. While I absolutely detest the scrutiny this poor woman is put through, I am really glad she chose to step out like this. I don’t think I have ever even seen how much of a belly is left immediately after having a baby, so it was quite a powerful image. I don’t know if it was a feminist move, or just a refreshing taste of reality for men and women. 🙂

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