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Keira Knightley rails against the expectation placed on Kate Middleton in the aftermath of labour

‘Hide your pain.’

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY GAVE birth to her daughter, Edie, in May 2015; just one day before Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to her daughter, Charlotte.

Keira Knightley essay Source: Ian West/PA Images

And in an essay written for Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), Keira compares the reality of her experience with that of Kate, who was required to have her photograph taken on the steps of the Lindo Wing mere hours after giving birth.

Recalling her daughter’s birth in extracts shared by Refinery 29, Keira, now 33, opened her essay with the words:

My vagina split. You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming.

In compelling prose entitled The Weaker Sex, the actress recalls her first skin-on-skin contact with her child, continuing:

They put you on to me, covered in blood, vernix, your head misshapen from the birth canal. Pulsating, gasping, screaming. You latched on to my breast immediately, hungrily, I remember the pain. The mouth clenched tight around my nipple, light sucking on and sucking out.

Describing both her and her infant’s bodies as ‘battlegrounds’, she offers readers an insight into the reality of the post-birth experience.

I remember the s**t, the vomit, the blood, the stitches. I remember my battleground. Your battleground and life pulsating. Surviving. And I am the weaker sex.

char Source: PA Images

And just one day after Keira’s experience of childbirth and mere hours after she stepped into her role as mother, she watched as the Duchess of Cambridge cradled her own daughter in the glare of the world’s media.

We stand and watch the TV screen. She was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on. The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging.

Clearly anguished by the expectation placed on women – both in the public eye and in society as a whole – Keira articulated that pressure by comparing the reality of childbirth with the image Kate Middleton was obliged to present to the world a mere seven hours after delivering a baby girl.

Look beautiful, look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate. Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Don’t show. Don’t tell. Stand there with your girl and be shot by a pack of male photographers.

Less than three years on from Charlotte’s birth, the Duchess was required yet again to pose on the steps of the Lindo Wing, with her infant son, Louis.

And while Prince William’s wife looked remarkably well mere hours after delivering her third child, an Australian publication still deemed it appropriate to digitally alter the image.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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