Keira Knightley is calling out Kate Middleton for setting unrealistic expectations for women after giving birth. The British actress, 33, wrote a powerful essay titled “The Weaker Sex,” which appears in the collection Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies), and she takes on the Duchess of Cambridge for looking perfect hours after going into labor.
Knightley welcomed daughter Edie Righton one day before Middleton gave birth to Princess Charlotte on May 2, 2015. The Colette star vividly remembers watching Middleton leave the hospital, her appearance televised around the world.
“We stand and watch the TV screen. [Kate] was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on. The face the world wants to see,” Knightley writes. “Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful. Look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate.”
She continues: “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.”
The Oscar-nominated actress recalls in detail the pains of her own childbirth. “My vagina split,” the first line of the essay reads. “You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming. They put you on to me, covered in blood, vernix, your head misshapen from the birth canal. Pulsating, gasping, screaming.”
Knightley remembers “the s***, the vomit, the blood, the stitches. I remember my battleground. Your battleground and life pulsating. Surviving. And I am the weaker sex?”
She also calls out the sexist double standard for actors and actresses who are parents. “I turn up on time, word perfect, with ideas and an opinion. I am up with you [her daughter] all night if you need me. Sometimes I cry I’m so tired,” Knightley writes. “Up with you all night and work all day. … My male colleagues can be late, can not know their lines,” she says. “They can shout and scream and throw things. They can turn up drunk or not turn up at all. They don’t see their children. They’re working. They need to concentrate.”
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies), which is available now, also features essays by Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Adwoa Aboah, and Jameela Jamil.
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