Remember when Meghan Markle jacked in a major TV role and hot-footed across the pond, a copy of “How to Bag a Prince” stowed under her arm? No, neither do we.
The media have always favored an Adam and Eve-like tryst between the pair. Meghan leads Harry astray and entices him with her feminine wiles to become the husband of a “commoner” – the aristocracy’s words, not ours. Meghan was painted as the temptress who all but force-fed her beau the forbidden apple, but lest we forget. Harry had played the wild child with aplomb for well over a decade, leaving a trail of beautiful women in his wake. The picture was likely a lot more mundane; a boy meets girl tale of liking, loving, and making it official. Harry met his match, so why can’t we seem to leave Meghan alone all these years later?
Like a dog with a bone, the mainstream media just can’t let up on the new mom. Their cruelly hot and cold attitude towards the princess leads to quick praise for her choice of dress or how she manages to keep that mane glossy, but a lagging comprehension when it comes to what she does outside of playing wife and mother, namely, her unending support of projects that battle to wipe out gender, racial, financial, cultural, and educational inequality. It seems like being so bold as to have to think and speak about it is a sure route to judgment.
Sadly, women fighting harder for their place in today’s world mark Meghan as a rule, not the exception. No matter your success, determination, and grit, you have to go one better if you’re female. Whether or not you have a Ph.D. behind you, a multi-million dollar business in your name, or you’re an ace with the working mum balance, and you’ll inevitably need to succeed in areas your male counterparts can ignore. It’s not enough to be running the show during your day job. It’s baking cakes for the kids’ birthdays from scratch, cooking fresh meals for the family, and hosting the perfect party—all after putting in a 40-hour week and doing it with a smile to boot.
So, what does it tell us? Well, women have it tough, but this is no one-sided blame-game. Although men don’t live under the same pressures, we all need to shoulder some responsibility. Think about it, do you jump to tell your girlfriends how intelligent they are when you meet for coffee or is it usually more about how great they look in their new shirt and jeans combo? Did you heap as much praise on your best friend when she passed her degree as you did after her last amazing haircut? How often do you recognize the women’s strength around you, outside of the homemaker role and away from the aesthetic lens?
We don’t celebrate our female comrades nearly enough. The media breeds jealousy and judgment to divide and influence its readership, and this toxicity bleeds out into everyday life. If our best mate happens to be smart, funny, successful, and beautiful, should we commend her on how well she’s doing, or heap on criticism for not playing superwoman in her family and social life too? When a female colleague needs to speak out against a male boss, are we going to brand her a troublemaker and gossip around the water cooler or stand in solidarity, regardless of the fact we know she’s been getting shop-bought birthday gateaux for her kids every year? Isn’t it about time we all drop the façade and start living life true to ourselves in all the busy, boring, messy, exciting, frustrating moments that entails?
Ms. Markle might be taking inspiration from her acting background, given the number of roles she has to play. Global opinion seems to dictate that as soon as Meghan got the guy, she should have sat down and become the gracious wife and mother. But also, you know, stay at the helm of global activism. And be impeccably turned out every time she crosses her threshold. No pressure, eh? It’s a lot to ask of anyone, so is it time to cut her – and every other woman out there – some slack, or, with her enormous power and influence, are we right to hold Meghan to account?