Hilary Mantel is just guilty of describing what is self-evident
Hilary Mantel‘s essay has probably not been read by many of the people criticising it.
But those rushing to defend the Duchess of Cambridge are right to remind us that it was about a real human being, and woman, and not just a historical figure or character in a book.
It can be tricky to talk about women’s bodies especially when they are in the public eye, and of course such personal comments can be hurtful.
But I do applaud Hilary for mentioning the elephant in the room – how skinny Kate is.
For some odd reason, people seem incapable of noticing how terribly thin certain celebrities are.
Quite a few years ago, I interviewed a famous model-turned-actress on the red carpet for a film she was appearing in. While she looked stunning as usual, I noticed immediately that I could have fit both my hands around her waist with no space to spare.
I couldn’t help but ask how she maintains her figure, to which she replied ‘oh, I just run around after the kids all the time.’
We’re not allowed to say it, but it is screamingly obvious that most of these people are not ‘naturally thin.’
Maybe Kate Middleton really is naturally thin, but most adult women are not.
It is not a personal attack to say so – it is young girls, and increasingly boys, who are the ones really suffering when we set this skeletal look up as an ideal, and take celebrities’ words for it that none of them live in a constant, miserable battle to stay this size.
It’s no secret that there is pressure for celebrities to stay slim.
Twitter bullies will certainly have something to say about it if they aren’t. Lauren Goodger was just the latest to speak out about these vicious online attacks.
Recently, Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell gave a TED lecture in which she said she has won the ‘genetic lottery’ in being tall, slim, white and feminine-looking, which she has duly cashed in on, but she urged us not to place so much importance on looks.
The question I’d like to ask is why femininity is equated with being small and frail in the first place.
We haven’t always thought of thin as beautiful, and other nations aren’t obsessed with tiny, childlike female bodies. I lived in South America for two years, where women with big thighs and bums are considered the most attractive.
Since I came back, I have often been shocked at the frail, starved appearance of TV presenters and actresses, and even more shocked that no one seems to notice it.
Even worse, this image has become our ideal and we praise skinny celebs as looking good.
So while some felt Hilary Mantel was mean to Kate, who is not to blame personally for any of this, I think she has dredged up something much more important.
As a society, we’ve got a problem, and the first thing we need to do to address it is to talk honestly about what we can see in front of us, and stop holding it up as some kind of ideal.
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