“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Markle said in an emotional interview that aired on ITV in the UK on Sunday night. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot.”
"Not many people have asked if I’m ok … it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 18, 2019
Her voice threatened to crack, she blinked back tears: her vulnerability was palpable.
“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It’s um…yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
When the reporter Tom Bradby asked if she was not okay and was struggling, she answered, “Yes.”
We so often forget to ask if someone is ok. Even if someone seems like everything is perfect, they are often the ones that need to be asked the most, as they are the ones that no one thinks to ask. #ItsOkNotToBeOk pic.twitter.com/gjwrNkJvEd
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) October 19, 2019
I’d be surprised if any person who knows, or has experienced, the uncertain and overwhelming emotional terrain that so often accompanies the early weeks and months with a firstborn, can watch that footage without their heart cracking a little.
Riches, fame and privilege are no insulation.
Meghan’s courage in speaking that truth, in making herself vulnerable, has struck a chord with lots of women.
Saying that it’s hard, saying you’re not ok, saying you’re struggling is challenging for anyone at any time, but particularly for new mums. For many new mums the weight of expectation to be content, to feel fulfilled and comfortable in their new role, while they’re often feeling the exact opposite, is immense.
It’s difficult even when you haven’t got the world’s media spotlight fixed upon you.
I just want to thank Meghan Markle for saying she's not OK instead of some fluffy PR response. The idea that women can do it all, mothers are superheroes and parenthood is obvious are hurtful, ignorant and damaging to women.
We're not OK. Millennial parenthood is fucking hard.
— Black Ashley (@ashleysimpo) October 18, 2019
Meghan Markle is, of course, far from the everyday, ordinary mother. But while most ordinary mothers couldn’t even dream of the comforts that royalty affords, the flip side is that most ordinary mothers are free to navigate the early weeks and months of parenthood privately. Without their every move and every word being documented and dissected.
That is a luxury royalty precludes.
Prince Harry made clear in his statement that there is a personal cost to the media’s treatment of his wife. Markle’s confession confirmed this with heartbreaking clarity. She is a woman who is struggling. A woman who isn’t, actually, ok.
Of course for all the praise Meghan Markle has received for being truthful, her interview has also been derided by plenty. She’s asking for sympathy. Oh, poor me! Here she is manipulating the media again.
Whatever Markle does, she is likely to be criticised so perhaps her calculation is that she may as well be honest.
It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle is at least partially racially motivated. The fact that so many of her most vocal critics vehemently oppose this doesn’t render it untrue. Why else has she been pursued so mercilessly?
Aside from race, perhaps Meghan’s grave error is that she has come to royalty as a woman with her own career, life and views.
Meghan’s sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, has almost totally evaded anything remotely akin to what Markle deals with. Why?
She has the same royal trimmings and privileges that Markle does. She employs nannies and staff and has renovated her homes at great expense: and yet has never, really, been targeted by the tabloid press.
Is it because she has maintained a quiet presence in the background? The role of princess and future queen is the one she has played dutifully since university. If the measure of the ideal woman is someone who knows her place and never speaks out, then the Duchess of Cambridge has never put a foot wrong.
Markle on the other hand has breached it all. She could never hope to replicate that by virtue of coming to royalty via her own life, her own career, her own views.
For many her views are wholly unwelcome, but I suspect for a great deal of women, new mums especially, her words are more than just welcome. They are comforting, brave and reassuring.