When Meghan Markle first had her baby, and let’s be honest, for many months leading up to that, people speculated about how she would handle the post-baby photo op. Post baby photo ops being the kind of thing that the Royals have always excelled at. Remember Kate barely showing a hint of her post pregnancy belly in a red dress and heels, just a day after George was born? She somehow pulled that off with THREE pregnancies!
Meghan decided not to do her obligatory post-baby photo on the steps of the hospital as Kate did, opting to do it more on her own terms, once she felt ready. That in itself was a big deal. With that decision, she was saying, I am not working on the expected timeline, I am doing what feels right for me, my baby, and my family.
A few days after giving birth, when Meghan decided she was ready to face the photographers, I also believe she was making a statement. It was a subtle thing, but by having Harry carry the baby instead of her for their first public appearance as a family of three, I believe she was saying that their marriage would be more modern than the royals before her. Harry and her would both be taking equal responsibility for this baby and parenting together. Now that could be how Kate and Will parent too, but Meghan and Harry were making a public statement about it. I also love that Meghan wore a belted dress and her hair more natural than we usually see it. She did not look magically back to her pre-baby self, which makes her first photos even more beautiful, in my opinion.
Looking at the photos, it also seemed to me that taking a photo for the press was not really what Meghan wanted to do, but she knew public appearances is something she signed up for when becoming a Royal. It is the Royal duty to produce the image that people want to see, so that endless media outlets can sell papers and gain social media “likes” from its circulation.
I know, that even on my relatively small Instagram accounts, when I posted a photo of baby Archie, it got almost three times as many “likes” as my usual pics, indicating that’s exactly what people wanted to see. Over and over again. The beautiful new princess with her baby. Even with Meghan’s subtle attempts to keep it (relatively) real and on her own terms, it was still Instagram perfection.
But Meghan wasn’t the only new mom posing for photos with her brand new baby last week. Amy Schumer had a baby boy named Gene, the day before the Royal baby was born. If I thought Meghan was being “real” by wearing a belted dress and neglecting to flat iron her hair, that was nothing compared to Amy Schumer’s REAL.
Amy Schumer is, of course, always someone who puts herself out there in a raw and honest way, so it was not a big surprise that she would do the same thing post pregnancy. But, I was surprised at how much it meant to me to see it. By instagramming the least instagrammable moments, I believe Amy is doing all mothers a great service. Her pics say that new motherhood is not picture perfect. It is messy, hard, confusing and often comical.
THIS is what it looks like, whether you project this image to the public or not.
Make no mistake, the Duchess of Sussex was also in a hospital gown, taking her first post-baby poop, wearing those ridiculously large pads in her underwear, hosing out her hoo-ha and wondering when everyone would leave the room and let her be.
No mom, no matter who you are, can escape the realities of childbirth. Sure, Meghan probably had a comfier bed in a deluxe room, with a slew of people attending to her every need, but her body went through the same thing as the rest of us, with the same need for recovery.
When I created the Instagram VS Reality meme at the top of this post and put it on @averageparentproblems, there were mostly laughs and support, but a few people thought I was shaming Meghan for looking put together after giving birth. They argued that there was nothing wrong with “keepin’ it classy” for a post baby pic.
I agree! I actually love that Meghan did as best she could to portray real motherhood under her very unique circumstances. I also think Meghan will continue to make steps to portray a more progressive form of family for the press, and I am here for it. My belief is that Meghan knows that her photo was exactly that— a photo op, whereas Amy’s pic shows a part of new motherhood we don’t normally see on Instagram. I’m guessing that if Meghan saw Amy’s pic, she laughed and appreciated it too.
My goal with the Instagram VS Reality meme was not to shame Meghan. For what it’s worth, I didn’t post a photo of myself on the toilet after giving birth either. My goal was to thank Amy. We see pics like Meghan’s and praise those moms for looking great after giving birth all the time. I like the idea of praising a mom for showing us a more raw version of a post-baby pic.
One doesn’t invalidate the other. It just gives a more complete picture of new motherhood.