Over at the Montreal Gazette, Doug Camilli weighs in on Hilary Mantel and now Vivienne Westwood’s crticial comments regarding Kate Middleton’s wardrobe (and in the case of Hilary Mantel, the entire monarchy.) Well, we all know the fashion world can be cutting, as well as, apparently, the literary community.
But I have to say that if the Duchess of Cambridge’s experience with pregnancy and new parenting resembles mine in any way, chances are good the fashion world may look mild in comparison in a few months.
Here’s when I realized my world had changed: I had a really, really bad day when I was about 7 months pregnant with my daughter. It was also winter, and I had a cold, and I was stuck downtown. You may think that I am about to confess that I had a drink. But I did not. I had poutine.
And a woman sprinted across Toronto Eaton’s Centre’s food court to tell me that I was loading my poor innocent unborn child’s veins with the wrong food.
Up until that moment I had taken a lot of the helpful advice during pregnancy with grace, because after all, people generally just seemed to want things to go well for me. Advice to lie down more, exercise more, take aquafit, take up running, enjoy eating out, stop eating out to save money and so on and so forth was all pretty good-spirited. Even in Toronto, where being polite to people means not acknowledging their actual existence in any public space, men and women alike were daily giving up seats on the subway. And advising that I get (or not get) an epidural. Plus, I’m no Kate Middleton so it wasn’t like I was being mobbed.
But then that woman critiqued my poutine. And I was mad. Really mad. Pregnant mad. That can’t have been good for the baby! (Hilary Mantel, take note.)
What is it about pregnancy and child rearing that makes strangers think they get say in my life? If you’re Kate Middleton with a baby bump, I guess you are going to have to expect it. But for the rest of us, what’s the deal? On my charitable days, I think it is an evolutionary quirk designed to help the species survive by making all adults in the vicinity apt to pull young primates away from tigers and poisonous plants, and a nice way to get used to being part of a community. On my less charitable days I think that mothers are just perceived as fair sport, possibly because if pregnant, their hormone-fogged brains are unlikely to come up with the right insult in response, and once supervising children they aren’t going to commit any crimes (of assault, or etiquette) in front of their kids.
(Picture: Kate Middleton, visiting Madame Tussauds in New York, not being accused of being a plastic princess. By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, via Wikimedia Commons)
Here is a very short list of things that will nearly always be wrong with your new baby:
- Clothing: Your baby can never have the right combination of hat, gloves, blanket, sweater, etc. on. The baby will “look cold” or “look hot.”
- Size: Baby will always be larger or smaller than expected.
- Sleep: There is always someone at the grocery store ready to comment that your baby looks tired, managing to imply s/he should be home napping.
- Germs: If your baby is finally finding solace in chewing your coat collar rather than shrieking with teething, someone will note your coat is dirty.
- Breast or bottle: That is its own post.
The nice thing about Kate Middleton’s life is she may be able to actually hire Mary Poppins, and then anyone who critiques the royal baby’s clothing will get swept up a chimney. Failing that though, maybe the fashion critique is the best training she can get for the next few years of her life.