The Point
Last updated: 27 June 2022. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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The Curious Case of Kate Middleton's Breasts



Gillian Wales

In some ways writing this article belies my true level of interest in the Royal breast fiasco. This matter is increasingly being used as some sort of crusade on privacy (but only for the wealthy) as well as rights to the body. For me, it is far, more simple. Kate Middleton slipped up. Even after all the media training she has undergone and her many years’ experience of the paparazzi, she misjudged the situation. She forgot who she was and how in some people’s eyes she holds some form of status…the royal feminine. One statement released highlighted that she is a ‘young woman, not an object’. This is, of course, completely correct. However, this also stated that she had undergone much ‘suffering’ in relation to this issue. Suffering? Seriously? My alternative version of events goes like this: young royal went topless on holiday, said breasts were ‘papped’, photos published in French media, leading to a severe ticking off for inappropriate behaviour, particularly in light of forthcoming royal visits abroad. And now this whole situation is being used to make a statement about privacy and sexism.

The privacy laws are a slightly different debate; however, the hypocrisy is highly irritating. Press officers, acting on behalf of the rich and famous, continually manipulate stories to maximise impact and positive effect. They then complain when something unfavourable comes out that does not fit into their contrived agenda. Access to money and power facilitates this vicious game playing, via legal action and injunctions, which further remove everyday people from what constitutes truth. The PR industry contradictorily helps to create some form of allure, which perpetrates the myth that the Royals are different, a special kind of human being, whilst at the same time attempting to demonstrate how ‘normal’ these people are. The lie being sold here is that Kate Middleton’s breasts are no ordinary breasts; they are special, royal breasts whilst simultaneously selling the image of her as representative of many young women today.

The question of representation is key. Within my nuclear family, we are perfectly open with our bodies. My kids have no (as yet) body hang ups and this practical attitude to physicality is something I will continue to nurture in my home. My children do not quite understand what the ‘big deal’ is regarding Kate Middleton’s breasts. Perhaps this is influenced by the fact that I’m disparaging about the royals, in general. For me, Kate Middleton represents everything that is wrong with how hierarchical status of importance is created. She is the last person I would want my daughter to aspire to: someone who has proactively married into such a flawed institution as the British royal family.

This whole situation has highlighted how my own views differ from many of my comrades on the left.  Whilst I do understand the importance of us resisting objectification of women (and men for that matter), this topic just doesn’t cut it as an important women’s issue for me. Unfortunately, we live in a world where physical beauty and the commercial interpretation of this beauty are regarded as of more value than human characteristics or intellectual capacity. However, we must not be hypocritical. To deny any pleasure we get from aesthetic beauty is to belie our own natures as humans. Of course objectification is not the same thing as appreciating physical beauty and we must be clear on the difference. However, when we castigate every instance of the body being put on public view as invasive or exploitative we can sound so trite.  It is true that this is a difficult argument to propose when it comes to taking photographs when someone is unaware. When I looked at the pictures (and look I did) I saw a young woman who seemed extremely relaxed with her body, as she should rightly be.  However, the argument that she thought they were alone is seriously flawed. Surely it would be pushing the boundaries of common sense to state that no staff or bodyguards saw Kate Middleton topless, they are both part of her daily life. This does not, however, give legitimacy to en masse public consumption of these images.

Am I a feminist? Well, that depends on how it is being defined. I have experienced disparity of pay in the workplace purely based upon gender, sexual advances from male counterparts, including a former boss who blatantly abused his position as my ‘superior’ and have sat in boardroom meetings where the expectation was that I, as the sole female in the room, would be the tea or coffee pourer (many hot beverages grew cold). So when it comes to equality in the workplace I am particularly keen to defend women’s rights. However, I tend to part opinion with many females regarding ‘Page 3’. Whilst it is clearly wrong that this is trivialised as merely ‘a bit of fun’, it does little to offend me. I don’t really see the women in the pictures as being majorly exploited. I just feel that the whole situation is terribly sad. My disappointment extends beyond the girls themselves, the industry and the men who dribble over them, to the partners of these men. What does it say about them to be with men who would look at a stranger and feel something, anything?

So, back to Kate Middleton and her boobs…because let’s face it, that’s all they are.  I want to shout from the rooftops, they are just boobs! With so much going on in the world, why is this topic even receiving airplay? Middleton boobs are no more important than any others.  In fact, in many ways I correlate Middleton to the other mindless celebrities engulfing our media and filling our children’s brains with fluff, to all the seemingly talentless, unproductive celebrity hunters who are crafting a brand to sell to the world. The true fear here is that she may have devalued product ‘Kate’ as far too accessible. 

This topic does further stretch beyond a class issue into a gender one when we consider the slightly different reception that Prince Harry’s bare buttocks received. Far more of ‘go on my son’ type attitude was displayed here. Perhaps the royals should have taken a less serious attitude to the pictures instead of attempting to make a case for women’s rights. After all, the horse had already bolted. They have attempted to shape a discourse that suggests she has some sort of special rights to privacy, that her boobs should remain secluded from public view. Well perhaps she shouldn’t have got them out near a road then?

It’s just a thought.

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left


The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

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