Please Stop Telling Meghan Markle Not to Touch Her Baby Bump in Photos

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TOLGA AKMEN/getty images

Let me start by saying: I don’t really care about the British Royal Family. I’m sure they’re lovely people who do a lot of good for the world; I’m just not Royally Obsessed.

That said, I’ve recently found myself sticking up for Meghan Markle. First it was just in my own head, but now I feel the need to publicly say, Please stop telling Meghan Markle not to touch her baby bump.

My unexpectedly pro-Meghan crusade started when I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram’s Explore page. I clicked on a photo of the Duchess of Sussex because I loved the color combination she was wearing. It was this purple-and-red ensemble, and I maintain that it was a fabulous look. Curious about how this uncharacteristically fashion-forward style choice—that’s not an insult; it’s just a fact that the Duchess and other royals typically stick to more classic pieces—was being received, I clicked over to the comment section.

Instead of “OMG love this!” or “who told her those colors go together??!” I was disappointed to see that a lot of the comments with the most likes were written by people annoyed that Meghan was resting her hand on her bump. “Does she think the baby is going to fall out?” “We get it, you’re pregnant.” 

I wondered whether this was an isolated incident, so I did some more digging. Yes, Meghan is often photographed with her hand on her bump, and yes, beneath every such picture there are countless disparaging comments.

Now, I’m fully aware of how toxic online comments sections can be, but something about this particular type of negativity got to me. First of all, why do you care? Second of all, does insulting someone—who will almost certainly never see your comment—make you feel better about yourself? (If so, it’s time to look inward, my friend.)

The trend of publicly rolling your eyes at what Meghan Markle chooses to do with her own hands speaks to a larger issue of policing women’s bodies, and it’s equal parts disheartening and eye-opening.  

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, I thought. So I checked in with an actual mother, since I’ve never been pregnant. I brought up the issue with Rachel Bowie, a PureWow senior editor who also writes tons of stories for our Family section and is our unofficial in-house royals expert. She was similarly incensed. "It actually really bothers me to see the backlash against Meghan and how she chooses to position her hand around her bump,” she told me. “As someone who was recently pregnant, I can confirm the two biggest challenges: 1. Navigating unsolicited opinions/advice and 2. Finding a comfortable position while standing, let alone one that's photogenic. And I didn't have a zillion photographers snapping my photo at every turn.”

On top of that, Rachel confirmed something that I’d already assumed: Meghan—or any pregnant woman—isn’t strategically placing her hand on her stomach for attention. “Over time as my bump grew, holding it became something I barely thought about and more of a natural—and slightly over-protective—impulse. It was there. I was guarding it. And doing my best to look pulled together in the process.”

What’s bothered me most about this whole thing is that, based on my highly unscientific research, the majority of people leaving these snide remarks are women. And this makes me wonder: Why are they engaging in the tired trope of women knocking women? And really, honestly why do they even care?  

Maybe you’re a Meghan bump-basher. In that case, here are some tips for keeping your pregnancy policing in check.

1. Navigate to another Instagram page where you can find content that won’t upset you. (Dog videos? Winged eyeliner tutorials? Go there.)

2. Unfollow Meghan-adjacent accounts that are contributing to your distress.

3. Think about how you would feel if someone—stranger or not—told you how you should interact with your own body, and reconsider leaving that snide comment.

Let’s just be nicer to each other, K?

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...