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These tweets about Kate Middleton prove body shaming has reached a new low

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Kayleigh Dray
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When a woman can’t step outside without gloves on, you know the world has reached peak awful, argues stylist.co.uk editor Kayleigh Dray

The Duchess of Cambridge recently paid an official visit to Oxford, dressed in her usual winter uniform of a smart coat and heels. And, as always, Kate Middleton also clutched a teeny-weeny clutch bag at all times (which plays a vital – albeit surprising – role in royal engagements, according to etiquette experts).

However, this time, she did so without popping on a pair of gloves first. Which is absolutely fair enough: after all, the Beast from the East has been bested, the UK is finally enjoying balmier climes and the sun is (sort of) shining again.

It seems as if daring to expose her fingers to the elements may have proven a mistake, though. Because, upon seeing a glimpse of knuckle and fingernail, misogynists everywhere absolutely lost their s**t.

Why? Because – newsflash – Middleton has fingers. And, in case you weren’t aware, the dregs of society have set unrealistic standards for our digits, just like they have for every single other part of women’s bodies.

“She should keep those defective fingers in gloves at all times,” one troll commented online, apparently disgusted.

“I always knew she was an alien,” a second wrote, insisting that “flaunting” three middle fingers of the same length is akin to painting one’s bottom bright red and mooning the people of London.

Another added that Middleton’s fingers made them “feel sick” – and the comments grew even more incensed and ridiculous from then onwards, with the Daily Mail even stooping to write an entire bloody article about it.

The Duchess of Cambridge visited Pegasus Primary School in Oxford on Tuesday 6 March to learn more about the work of the charity Family Links

“The Duchess’ VERY unusual digits,” blared the headline, hysteria positively dripping from every single word. “Photo of Kate on her visit to Oxford primary school suggests her fingers are almost exactly the SAME length.”

The article that follows is, essentially, the usual nonsense we’ve come to expect from the tabloid: several almost identical photos, a lot of drivel about what the Duchess is wearing and bucket-loads of sexism, all nicely wrapped up with a dash of scaremongering pseudoscience.

“A long index finger also correlates strongly with a lower risk of early heart disease, and, in women, a higher risk of breast cancer and greater fertility,” they warned, wagging their metaphorical fingers at every single woman who dared to be born with imperfect fingers.

Warming to this general theme of ‘shame, shame, shame’, the writer added (citing absolutely zero studies or scientific journals, because old wives tales and hearsay are apparently better): “People with relatively long index fingers have also been found to be more likely to suffer from schizophrenia, allergies, eczema and hay fever.”


An actual Daily Mail headline

Apparently it’s not enough that women are constantly measured in terms of cup size, dress size, weight and thigh circumference, hair colour (woe betide any woman who dares bare her greys), and makeup application (we’re slammed for applying it on the train, for applying too much, and for not applying it at all). It’s not enough that we’re subjected to ridiculous dress codes (remember when President Donald Trump urged female staffers to “dress like a woman”?)

It’s not enough that, in 2016, one major fashion magazine announced that “the cleavage is over”, clearly assuming that women everywhere can pluck their breasts off and tuck them away under the bed until they’re fashionable again. That teenagers are ordered to cover up their “distracting” collarbones at school, that university students can be ordered to show their cleavage at graduation, that some 12-year-old girls are banned from wearing vest tops in the height of summer, and that women can be told their belly buttons should never be visible whilst at the gym.

Instead, in 2018, society demands that we worry about what’s beneath our very skin and start focusing on our skeletons, too: are our skulls domed enough? Are our eye sockets too deep? Have we considered the sharpness of our elbows? Do our joints look seamless? Are our finger-bones too long, too short, too something?

There’s always something else. Even when we’ve somehow managed to meet all of the impossible beauty and sartorial standards of the modern world – and, let’s face it, Kate Middleton has done a pretty good job of that, judging by all the Pinterest boards dedicated to her ‘look’ – then misogynists will still swoop in and find something to complain about. Something like, maybe, her finger bones

Kate Middleton greets a child, who bravely shows no fear at coming face-to-face with a woman in possession of three fingers of equal length

Of course, it goes without saying that this sort of judgement and criticism is primarily reserved for women, and it will always be there. Nobody ever looks at Ben Affleck and remarks on the lumpiness of his knuckles. Leonardo DiCaprio will always be offered movie roles, beer belly or not. Johnny Depp continues to reign supreme at the box office, despite the length of his toes (and, y’know, the fact that he’s been accused of domestic violence). And, in 2014, a male TV presenter wore the same suit every day for a year to see if anybody would notice

Spoiler: they did not.

By reducing a woman’s worth down to her appearance, we slyly diminish her role and her value as a contributor to society. People care far too much about how things look, rather than looking at how things are. And it’s high time that we speak out against this rampant sexism.

After all, if a bonafide princess can’t get through a walk around a primary school without having her appearance shamed on social media, who can?

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.