Opinion

Kate Garraway and Derek Draper: the impact of that misleading headline

Kate Garraway has followed the advice of doctors to “go back to work and create a routine” while her husband, Derek Draper, remains in hospital

Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper, was taken to hospital in March after contracting Covid-19. There, as many readers will no doubt be aware, he was placed in a medically-induced coma, where he remains four months on.

Draper is now coronavirus-free and has slowly begun regaining consciousness, but Garraway has previously said his body has been significantly damaged and may never recover.

“The fight with the virus has been won but it’s wreaked extraordinary damage to his body,” the Good Morning Britain presenter said last month, as per the BBC.

“It’s affected him from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.”

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At the behest of doctors, Garraway has since returned to work.

“I have to get on with life whilst we are waiting for him to get better,” she explained to Hello! magazine. “[Doctors have] told me that I need to go back to work and create a routine in our lives again.”

“The children and Derek are all I’ve thought about and they’re the most important people in my life,” she added, “but I must create structure and normality for the children.”

Garraway and Draper’s story has captured the imagination of the public, for obvious reasons. It makes absolute sense, then, that the UK media has been providing us with regular updates.

One major UK tabloid’s recent headline on the story, however, felt more than a little misleading.

“Kate Garraway reveals she’s FINALLY visited her husband Derek Draper,” it read.

Kate Garraway, her husband Derek Draper and their son Billy attends The Princess And The Frog special event at The Mayfair Hotel on January 24, 2010 in London, England.
Kate Garraway, her husband Derek Draper and their son Billy attend The Princess And The Frog special event at The Mayfair Hotel on 24 January 2010 in London.

Headlines like this, especially from major publications, aren’t supportive: they don’t offer context (for a very long time, Garraway was unable to visit Draper in hospital due to restrictions in place because of the pandemic). They don’t employ sensitivity. And they definitely don’t take into account the fact that 60% of people will share a headline on social media without reading the accompanying article (as per this study from Columbia University).

As such, they immediately challenge readers to make a snap judgement about Garraway. To wonder why she hasn’t visited her sick husband (a handful of Twitter users have suggested she’s “too busy” with n her TV career), and to question what she’s been doing instead (some have insisted that, if Draper were their partner, they would never have left his side). 

Indeed, this headline’s phrasing – however unintentionally – smacks of that iconic scene from Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, when Pastor Gallswells runs into Victoria after Victor’s disappearance.

“Miss Everglot, what are you doing here?” he exclaims. “You should be at home, prostrate with grief.”

It is not Garraway’s responsibility to cloister herself away and put her life on hold while her husband recovers in hospital. Her life is her own and she is allowed to live it. What she does with her time, and how she wants to take care of herself through what we can only imagine is a very difficult period in her life and marriage, is entirely her business, and hers alone.

Still, though, this misogynistic stereotype of a wife prostrate at her husband’s side in supplication prevails. And it’s worth noting that Garraway is by far from the only woman in the spotlight to fall foul of it. 

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Earlier this month, Kim Kardashian saw tabloids and social media users call for her to say something, anything, in the wake of husband Kanye West’s emotional and sometimes erratic appearance at his first presidential campaign rally earlier this month.

Photos of Rose Leslie attending a music festival were emblazoned across front pages in 2019 as some celebrity news outlets fell over themselves to point out that her husband, Kit Harington, was undergoing treatment in rehab at the time.

And, back in 2018, Ariana Grande was unfairly blamed by many for the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, as they insisted that the singer should have remained in the relationship and encouraged him to find sobriety.

Rose Leslie and Kit Harington
Rose Leslie was similarly criticised for attending a music festival as her husband, Kit Harington, received treatment at a rehab facility.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: support isn’t one-size-fits-all. Rather, it looks different for everyone, and it takes on different forms. It impacts relationships in different ways. And for tabloid headlines to suggest otherwise isn’t just unfair, it’s grossly irresponsible – and lights a fire under social media trolls, too.

So, going forward, let’s make a point of being kinder. Of reading beyond the headlines. And, above all else, of making sure that we contextualise other people’s experiences. Please.

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