One very normal bodily function, one very abnormal response: why can’t people handle the fact that the Duchess of Sussex sweats?
Meghan Markle has had to put up with a lot of scrutiny since becoming the Duchess of Sussex, and that’s putting it lightly. We’ve seen her criticised for any number of ridiculous things, almost all of which have been focused entirely on her appearance. There was the time she was deemed “inappropriate” for using dark nail polish. For dressing in “too much” black. For wearing a one-shouldered gown to a high-profile fashion event. For using hair extensions. For wearing high heels. For not wearing high heels. For – and this remains my personal favourite – wearing a bra underneath her clothes (you know, like you’re supposed to do with underwear).
It makes some sort of twisted sense, then, that trolls were quick to fall upon photos and footage of Meghan’s recent engagement at London’s Canada House.
While the majority of us either a) saw the photos and moved on with our lives, or b) busily dedicated ourselves to tracking down the royal’s wool coat (£190 from Reiss, if you’re interested), there were those who felt the need to zoom in on the photographs of Meghan in a bid to find a flaw.
The worst thing they could come up with, on this occasion? Well, I’m sure you’ll be horrified to learn that Meghan – like almost every other human on the planet (insert your Prince Andrew jokes here, I can wait) – sweats.
“Oops, Meghan needs a better deodorant,” one wrote on Twitter, alongside a zoomed-in photo of Meghan’s armpit.
“Did she forget her antiperspirant???” asked another.
“Not a good look,” reprimanded another. “Was it a little bit taxing at the embassy?”
As if the tweets about “Sweaty Sussex” weren’t enough, there were also those who felt the need to take to @SussexRoyal’s official post about the engagement and share their thoughts on Meghan’s sweat there, too.
“Love your sweaty armpit pics,” wrote one particularly nasty troll. “Never in my life have I seen our Queen, Camilla, Kate or ANY of our royal ladies have a stinky, sweaty armpit. Don’t you know about deodorant?!”
We all started 2020 with such good intentions. How has it already come to this?
As Stylist’s Alix Walker previously noted, we each have two to five million sweat glands and they tend to cluster under our boobs, our armpits, our groins and our upper lips. Why? Because sweating is good for us: it keeps us from over-heating, and regulates our core temperature. It’s the source of an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin, which helps protect against infection from harmful germs, like a natural antibiotic. It regulates water balance for our entire bodies. And dermatologists reckon it contains a natural moisturiser, too, keeping our skin hydrated and healthy.
Like I say, sweat is good for us. Really good, actually. You’d never know it, though, because we rarely see photos of women sweating. There’s maybe the odd sportswoman completing a marathon or grand-slam, or a post-workout selfie or two on Instagram. However, the media shies away from sharing photos of a woman sweating as she goes about her day-to-day. Just like those other big taboos (grey hair on women under 40, period blood stains and female body hair), it’s something that should be a normal occurrence, but has been made unnatural – shameful, even – by its lack of visibility.
Don’t believe me? Find a deodorant ad on YouTube right now and give it a watch. I’m willing to bet you’ll find a bone-dry armpit and a very light allusion to the idea that women might sometimes sweat. Maybe.
It’s all nonsense, of course. Women sweat every bit as much as men. I’ll say it again for those in the back: women sweat every bit as much as men. And, while we might associate it with a workout or sweltering summer’s day, it’s worth noting that winter sweat is every bit as common. Think about it: in an effort to combat those frigid outdoor temperatures, we bundle up in woolly coats, jumpers and all things snuggly before leaving the house, only to find ourselves uncomfortably hot once we begin our power-walk to the office.
All it takes is one step inside a warm room/car/bus/train, and that’s it: perspiration is imminent. Meghan and her chic woollen ensemble never stood a chance. And, until we all start talking about the fact women sweat, none of us stand a chance, either. Because if Meghan Markle – a genuine duchess and fashion icon – can’t get away with one tiny sweat stain, what hope do the rest of us bloody have? None whatsoever.
If that ain’t enough to make you break out in a cold sweat, I don’t know what is.