In an essay for the newly-launched book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), actress Keira Knightley has opened up on the traumatic experience she had giving birth, and criticised the flawless images of Kate Middleton that were shared after her own childbirth.
Keira Knightley had her daughter Edie in 2015, the same year Middleton had Princess Charlotte, and the actress said that the primped and polished photo shoot that the Duchess of Cambridge took part in hours after giving birth set an “unrealistic” expectation for women.
In a passage describing her labour, Knightley writes: “My vagina split. You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming. They put you on to me, covered in blood, vernix, your head misshapen from the birth canal. Pulsating, gasping, screaming.”
She then contrasts this with the widely-shared photos of Middleton, saying that the Duchess’ appearance outside a hospital “with her face made up and high heels on” was an attempt to put on “the face the world wants to see.” She then went on to say:
“Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful. Look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate. Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Don’t show. Don’t tell. Stand there with your girl and be shot by a pack of male photographers.”
It seems that Knightley is being critical of the behind-the-scenes machinations and heightened social pressures that drove Middleton to pose for photographers, rather than Middleton herself, but the essay will surely prove controversial all the same.
(Note that the above photo shows the Duchess earlier this year, after giving birth to Prince Louis).
The book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink found itself at the centre of an entirely separate controversy today, when a pop up stall that had been set up to promote it was removed from Topshop‘s flagship store on Oxford Street in London.
The stall was apparently dismantled after a mere 20 minutes, when company chairman Sir Philip Green saw it and decided he didn’t like it.
The pop-up, curated by author Scarlett Curtis, was made in partnership with the Girl Up charity, and was intended to raise money for the cause.
Curtis criticised the decision to remove the stall, calling it “a heartbreaking and shocking act from a powerful man and a true example of why the words in our book are still so needed.”
Topshop has since aplogised and made a £25,000 donation to the charity, although a representative for the company would only say that the decision was made from a “production and creative” perspective.