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OPINION: The problem with being Meghan Markle

Meghan is not the first or last woman to tell the story of her miscarriage, yet somehow she is always reduced to the villain.

By Nontshi Shange

WATCH: The war on Meghan

Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle penned an essay, “The losses we share,” in the New York Times on 25 November 2020. She shared her experience of living through a nightmare many women before she had experienced – a miscarriage.  

Meghan is no stranger to criticism, but most of it seems to be about things that are out of her control – like being a woman and being black. Meghan, unlike her beloved counterpart Kate Middleton, has been vocal on racial and gender issues, making her an easy meal for the British tabloids, who have attacked her at every turn. Ultimately, this led to Markle’s decision to no longer engage with tabloids such as The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Mirror. So when Meghan bravely opened up about her miscarriage, the inevitable happened – some media used her misfortune to assassinate her character.

When someone is grieving a loved one, we often say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” It validates their experience and gives them permission to mourn openly and without restraint. Yet when a woman loses an unborn baby – there’s radio silence, as if it’s something we’re supposed to keep a secret. But Markle’s heart-wrenching description of clutching on to her firstborn while losing her second born was met with a vocal and unsympathetic audience; an audience that seems to never grow tired of critiquing Meghan, simply being Meghan. 

One of the most surprising voices came from the former leader of the DA, Helen Zille, who referred to Meghan sharing her story as, “victimhood with virtue”.

According to US-based women’s health advocacy and research group, March of Dimes, 10-15% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Stars like Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Mariah Carey, Michelle Obama and Celine Dion have all shared their experiences in the hopes that someone would be able to resonate and feel less ashamed. However, despite these different voices coming forward, there is still a stigma that leaves many feeling as though it is unbecoming for them to share their trauma. And after seeing the response to Meghan Markle’s essay, you can not blame women for feeling ashamed. 

Meghan is not the first or last woman to tell the story of her miscarriage, yet somehow she is always reduced to the villain, even in the face of tragedy. The question is: why can Meghan never be embraced by the public, even during one of the darkest moments in her life?