This is a bit of a different post for me because, on the surface, it doesn’t seem to be about parenting.
But actually, it sort of is.
Because it’s about how I believe women shouldn’t tear each other down. About how people shouldn’t tear each other down. And that’s an attitude I really want to instil in my children.
Yesterday, I saw Liz Jones’ comments in the Mail on Sunday about Kate Middleton’s Vogue shoot. And I was annoyed. Even a bit angry.
She has ripped, not really Vogue, not really the photographer, not really the setting but Kate herself apart.
And as a woman who wholeheartedly believes that women should lift other women up, not bring them down, this doesn’t sit well with me. At all.
Don’t get me wrong; I completely believe it’s ok to dislike people. But I think it’s a pre-requisite that you have actually met them, spoken to them, watched them do things with your own eyes before you make the judgement to be downright rude and disrespectful about them. (Obviously you might not have met them to watch them ‘do things with your own eyes’ but you have might have seen them on, say, ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother. Luckily for Kate Middleton I don’t think that’s something she ever needs to concern herself with.)
Liz Jones first tears apart the outfit. Apparently Kate is “wearing a far-too-wintry suede Burberry trench we’ve seen everywhere, a white shirt, also by Burberry, that will never cause retail sites to crash, and a hat, of the sort Camilla might wear to muck out.”
Well the tagline under ‘Vogue’s 100 years’ actually says ‘Celebrating the faces and fashions of a century.’ So, actually the fact that we’ve seen the Burberry trench everywhere is then fitting if we’re celebrating a century of fashion: Vogue doesn’t want us to see new fashions. They want us to rejoice in the existing ones. And, by mentioning Burberry twice in one sentence, Liz Jones has linked Kate Middleton to their brand pretty emphatically, a fact I imagine Burberry are not exactly crying about. Especially if you read the article on the Daily Mail website where it gives you a nicely situated little link to the £4495 suede coat so you can ‘Buy now’.
Next, Liz Jones compares this shoot to Diana. If I had £1 every time someone compared me to my mother-in-law I’d have…….nothing. And I’d be blooming happy about that. Not because my mother-in-law is not an inspiration to me (she is astoundingly strong, warm and selfless) but because I am a completely different person who happens to have someone (my husband, her son) in common. Just because Kate shares similarities with Princess Diana (beauty, charity work) it does not mean she has to replicate her every move. I think they both appeared on the cover of Vogue for different reasons, despite Liz Jones deciding that there can only be one reason to appear on the cover of Vogue: “you want to become an icon and have your ego massaged.” Newsflash Liz: I think Kate is already considered an icon. And it doesn’t mean that, because you may disagree with her ‘look’ on the cover, you should bash her ego instead.
Then Liz moans about the countryside setting saying “this is a woman whose natural habitat was once the Kings Road, and the inside of Reiss!” True Ms Jones. However, ten years ago my natural habitat was the student union eating a Pot Noodle and drinking Lambrini. I am not the same person I was then. Another newsflash: people change. Kate has grown up. She married a Prince and has become a mother twice over. Maybe now, instead of sauntering down the Kings Road, she actually enjoys walks with her family in the countryside.
But then? Then Liz Jones gets personal. She says that “it’s hard to blame Vogue”, as she “can’t imagine Kate was easy to handle.” Er, why not? According to Liz, Kate vetoed Mario Testino for being “too Hollywood” though the article doesn’t make it clear as to whether this is Liz’s impression of Testino or Kate’s. If it’s Liz’s then it’s ironic as earlier in the article when she’s busy bashing the countryside, she claims that “we were waiting for something red carpet”, which is pretty synonymous with Hollywood these days. Liz is also happy that Kate vetoed Demarchelier “(too airbrushed)” and comments that she is glad we can see Kate’s wrinkles on one of the pictures.
Liz Jones says that Kate would have “called the shots” when it came to wardrobe, “not wanting to expose too much skin, fearing she would look too thin.” Really? Does Liz know this for sure or is she making assumptions? Because maybe, just maybe, Kate doesn’t want to come across as overly sexy and a “dishevelled slut” (Jones uses this phrase to describe the transformation Josh Olins – the photographer – managed to create for Emma Watson last year). I’m pretty sure that; a) Emma Watson has fewer parameters on her public image than a member of the Royal Family; b) Josh Olins does not just specialise in photographing ‘dishevelled sluts’ and actually prefers to have a more versatile portfolio; and c) Kate Middleton, as a Princess but more importantly a mother, does not want pictures of herself looking like a dishevelled slut splattered across the internet for her Grandmother-in-Law (The Queen) and her dear children to see.
So why did Liz Jones write this? Is it because she loves to be controversial and wanted to get people talking about her? (Mission accomplished here Liz.)
Or is it that she really does believe all of this? In which case, where does it stem from? Ignorance? Fashion snobbery? Jealousy?
I tend to think all three. I genuinely would like to believe that Liz Jones is not really this unkind. I think she should be able to voice her opinions and if she thinks the Vogue shoot is a bit dated then she’s entitled to say so. But not in such a disrespectful, catty manner.
Perhaps she is jealous that Kate seems to be happily married. Or that she has two beautiful children. Or that she is beautiful. Or that she is admired across the world. Or that she always conducts herself in public with such poise and dignity. I suppose we’ll never really know.
Ms Jones writes that the whole shoot “is not aspirational”. But the irony of the whole thing is that Liz has kinda hit the nail on the head when she says that “Kate looks beautiful, and happy.”
Happy. If that is not something to aspire to, then what is?
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*Update* – interestingly there is another article on the MailOnline today by Karen Kay which says mostly the opposite of what Liz Jones says. Is the Daily Mail sitting on the fence?!