Duchess Kate: the perfect woman?

Being a member of the royal family doesn’t make Kate Middleton a great
role model, writes Emily Burley.


PHOTO: Duchess Kate greets some of her many fans in Sydney.

The royals are partway through their Australian tour and ‘Kate fever’ has well and truly taken over. From the moment she, Prince William and baby George stepped onto the tarmac in Sydney, Kate’s every move every outfit has made for media fodder.

Sure, marrying into the royal family forced Kate into the spotlight, and sure, she may not have asked for that. Please don’t get me wrong: I don’t have a problem with the Duchess of Cambridge (I’m sure she’s really lovely and as far as royals go, I think she’s great). My problem is how we treat Kate as the perfect example of womanhood.

Should the ‘ideal woman’ – a woman who plays role model to millions of girls the world over – be a woman whose job is, essentially, to look pretty and not rock the boat?

The message this sends is scarily similar to those reflected in the Disney movies we grew up with. The rules of being a good woman are to look pretty, be skinny, get married, have babies and live in a big house. Walk alongside your man, smile and wave, and don’t say anything of any real substance.


PHOTO: Kate and Will get acquainted with the natives at Taronga Zoo.

Maybe it’s just me… I didn’t grow up wanting to be a princess or a pop star or a ballerina. As a little girl I dreamt of being Australia’s first female Prime Minister (luckily I’m willing to settle for being the second female).

The Duchess has a degree in art history from the University of St Andrews, but gave up a career to be a full-time royal. She is very much defined by the man she married.

I don’t believe Kate Middleton is the ideal woman and I don’t believe she’s the person little girls should be looking up to. Instead let’s look to Hillary Clinton, a strong and unwavering presence who proves you don’t have to be a sex symbol to be successful, or Alison Hewson, an activist who puts her studies in politics and sociology to use bettering the lives of others. How about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani teen who was shot in the head for defending girls’ rights to education?

Let’s rewrite the rules: work hard, be passionate, say what you think and stand up for what you believe in. Don’t compare yourself to anyone who wears a $520 Zimmermann dress to the beach.


Meanwhile, Kate and Will’s visit has sparked a ‘royal revival’, with support for an Australian republic the lowest it’s been in three decades. Check out what Levon Rush has to say about Australia’s status as a constitutional monarchy here.