The Royal Weight Debate: Don't Hate Kate

We want princesses to be perfect. So why are we all freaked out about just how skinny Kate is?

Within hours of the Royal Wedding on Friday, I was inundated with emails, Facebook updates, and Tweets, all variations on the same theme: For the love of God, someone please get Kate Middleton a sandwich.

Last week, we talked about how we want princesses to be thin. But as it turns out, you can be too thin.

The media made much of the Duchess of Cambridge's pre-wedding diet, workout regimen, and alleged smoking habit. Yet somehow, we were all still shocked and awed by just how tiny her little waist appeared to be in the dress. We were so invested in the fairytale -- that commoner Kate could land a prince and somehow that means that any of us can hope to live happily ever after as well -- that when our princess stopped looking "just like us," it shattered our illusions. 

To which I say: What did you expect? We did this. 

Whatever pressure Kate felt to drop pounds for the big day was amplified exponentially by our collective Princess Obsession. We wanted to see a Disney Princess brought to life and we got her. And while that reality is thankfully nowhere near as creepy as Galia Slayen's life-sized Barbie, it's still unsettling to see just how powerful our cultural beauty standards can be when someone follows them to the letter.   

But while I'm sad that Kate (and brides everywhere) felt compelled to diet before her wedding, I'm refusing to join in the "she's sooo skinny" fray. First because I think it's just plain tacky to criticize someone's appearance on their wedding day. Brides are supposed to get a free pass. And second, because tearing down women for being "too skinny" hurts our quest for a broader, more inclusive definition of beauty just as much as when we hate on fat chicks. "Real women" come in all shapes and sizes -- including tiny ones. It's true that at this particular moment in our history, tiny women are revered as beautiful more readily than anyone wearing a size 8 or above. But the solution is not to flip the labels around so big is beautiful and skinny is ostracized. Yet that's all we accomplish when we tsk over the thinness of fashion models, actresses, or newly minted princesses.

What's worse is that we disguise this body snarking under a thick veil of righteousness. What are little girls going to think when they see her? we'll say, as if Kate is solely responsible for the body image woes of an entire generation. This is not open-minded or evolved. In fact, it's just the opposite, since the entire position hinges on the idea that it is still somehow revolutionary to consider a fat woman beautiful and a thin woman ugly.  

So yes, Kate Middleton is slim. And she got thinner before her wedding day. But since we aren't in her brain, we'll never really know why or how -- just that, every time you criticize a person's body, skinny or fat, you pile on the pressure she's feeling to change it.

 

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