Keira Knightley’s searing essay for the new book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them was intended to offer a raw, no-holds-barred portrayal of the actress’s experience with childbirth and motherhood.
And while her account of giving birth to daughter Edie did just that, it was also accused of criticizing fellow mom Kate Middleton. Knightley contrasted the royal’s polished post-birth appearances with her own grittier experience.
“She was out of [the] hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on,” Knightley wrote of the duchess, who gave birth to Princess Charlotte the day after Knightley’s delivery in 2015, in her essay, “The Weaker Sex.”
“The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful, look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate.”
Some readers saw this as a mommy-shaming indictment of Kate for promoting an unrealistic, overly glamorous view of motherhood. Not so, Knightley told the Associated Press during an interview at the BFI London Film Festival premiere of her new film, Colette, Thursday night.
“I think certain aspects of the media have misrepresented — I hope not purposefully, because that would be extraordinary, wouldn’t it? — my entire meaning of the entire essay,” she said of reaction to her writing.
“That essay is about childbirth, it’s about motherhood, and it’s about complete empathy with every other woman that has been through the extremity of labor. It’s also about my sudden realization that what our culture asks us to do is to hide our truths and to silence our experiences. So it is exactly the opposite of what certain media has reported it to be. And I think just shows [that] as far as the feminist movement goes, we have a long way to go.”
In other words: Knightley doesn’t hate the player (Kate) — she hates the game (societal pressures to look perfect in the postnatal state). And to have her words portrayed as a critique of another mom is just, well, especially annoying. Hopefully it’s nothing that can’t be resolved with, say, a playdate between a pair of British 3-year-old girls?
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