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February 19th, 2013
08:59 PM ET

Kate Middleton reveals baby bump; award-winning author attacked over 'plastic princess' remarks

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, showed off her growing baby bump during a public appearance in London this morning.
Of course, it wasn't the only story about her appearance today.

The British author Hilary Mantel found herself in the middle of controversy when one of her lectures about Kate was published by the London Review of Books today.

Opinion: Author's rant on Catherine 'mean and cheap'

The lecture included comments like this:

"Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished... without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character." – Author Hilary Mantel said.

Taken with no context, it appears to be pretty harsh stuff and, as you can imagine, a lot of people jumped all over Hilary Mantel for saying it.
Newspapers, magazines and blogs came to Kate Middleton's defense, calling Mantel's comments "cutting," "venomous," "bizarre" and "creepy."

Mantel recommended that the Duchess read a book published in 2006, by the cultural historian Caroline WeberQueen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, saying:

"It’s rather that I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions."

We reached out to Columbia University Professor Caroline Weber and she responded to Mantel's article:

"The problem Mantel identifies isn't that the Duchess of Cambridge is "only" a fashion-plate + an expecting mother. The problem is that the media construes the Duchess's role in decorative + reproductive terms alone. Fifty years after Betty Friedan published the Feminine Mystique, it is shocking that that should be the case. That- + not Mantel's insightful speech on the subject- is the real scandal here."


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