This weekend we learned that Meghan Markle is pregnant with her second child, and we could not be more excited for her and her family. The couple’s spokesperson announced on Twitter, sharing a stunning black and white photo featuring Megan’s baby bump and of course, glowing smiles from the pair.
Well-wishes and messages of congratulations poured in—but within 24 hours Markle was already under attack by a British publication who wrote a story with the following headline: Publicity-Shy Woman Tells 7.67 BN People: I’m Pregnant.
They are presumably referring to Markle and Mountbatten-Windsor’s decision to step back from royal life and move to the United States, a decision made at least partially based on the malicious way Markle was treated by the press. Mountbatten-Windsor stated previously, “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences—a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”
And apparently, they are at it again; it is a gross symptom of a sexist and patriarchal society—one that thinks it has the right to tell women how they can and cannot talk about their pregnancies and losses.
In this case, a woman is being told she is being too vocal about her pregnancy joy. Yes, this woman has previously complained about the way she was treated by the tabloids (but, I mean, did you see those articles? I’d complain too). But to say that because someone asked not to be publicly ridiculed they can’t choose how to announce their pregnancy is just absurd. They are not related events, and quite frankly, none of our concern.
Markle is not alone in experiencing public shaming from people who didn’t like how she shared her news. Chrissy Teigen received similar backlash after bravely sharing her story of pregnancy loss late last year. People criticized her for her social media photos from the hospital as she said goodbye to Baby Jack.
According to these critics, Markle was too joyful, but Teigen was too sorrowful. The implication is clear: Women should work harder to ensure they prioritize other people’s comfort over their own human experiences—and we’re not having it.
Of very important note, Markle and Teigen are both women of color. So in addition to sexism, we need to consider the racism that is likely happening, as well.
Markle and Teigen chose to share their stories about their bodies. If you are curious, click on them. If you are not, keep swiping or unfollow. The end.
Telling them how to talk about their pregnancies (and how to care for their children and how to exist in the world) says a lot more about the people making the comments than it does about the people to whom the comments are directed.
And I think that a lot of us can identify with this, on some level at least.
We hesitate all the time—not to listen to ourselves, but to listen to other people.
Is it too early to share?
Is this TMI?
Will they be offended that I didn’t tell them in person first?
Over and over again, women feel compelled to put the needs of others before our own needs, and it’s antics like the ones we see with celebrities that perpetuate this culture: a culture that distrusts women and their choices, and teaches women to distrust themselves, too.
In short, knock it off.
Let women have and share joy without fear that they are being too much.
Let women feel sad and ask for support without fear that they are taking up too much space.
Let women just… be.
And if you really want to speak your mind, do so in a way that will inspire actual change for good. Call your local policymaker. Call a new parent in your life and ask them how they are.
We don’t exist for your commentary, and we certainly don’t exist for your comfort. Unless you want to contribute something helpful or meaningful, leave us alone.