Keira Knightley on why her essay about childbirth and the Duchess of Cambridge hit a nerve

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Keira Knightley gave birth to her daughter in 2015. [Photo: Gettyr

Keira Knightley, 33, has addressed the impact made by her candid essay on motherhood earlier this year, which hit headlines for its graphic detail of giving birth, and its comments about the Duchess of Cambridge.

In the essay, titled ‘The Weaker Sex’, which was part of the ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies)’ compiled by Scarlett Curtis, the ‘Colette’ actor – whose daughter with husband James Righton, whose name she does not reveal to the press, was born in 2015 – describes her vagina splitting during the birth of her child in graphic detail.

“My vagina split. You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming. They put you on to me, covered in blood, vernix, your head misshapen from the birth canal. Pulsating, gasping, screaming.”

She later went on to reference the Duchess of Cambridge’s emergence from hospital shortly after giving birth.

“She was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on. The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful, look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate.”

In an interview with The Guardian published today, Keira speaks about why the press pitted her against the Duchess of Cambridge after the essay was published, calling it another example of ‘silencing’ women.

“The whole essay was about the silencing of women’s experience. So it’s interesting that’s exactly what happened from certain media outlets. They turned a moment of empathy from one body to another around to say: she’s shaming her.”

She also opens up about the effect of motherhood on mental health.

She tells the publication: “Your body just created life and now it’s shifting in order to feed it. That’s monumental and we’re all expected to go: ‘Oh no, all good, I’m groovy – I haven’t slept, I’m fine.'”

Keira, who suffered from a mental breakdown at the age of 22, adds her early therapy fortified her to be able to cope with forgiving herself for making mistakes as a parent.

“That I’m able to forgive myself for not being brilliant [as a parent] every fucking day is probably because of that breakdown.”

Speaking about the high percentage of women who experience postnatal depression, Keira also stresses the importance of sharing the female experience.

“We have to talk about it so we know we haven’t failed. It’s really difficult for me, who has an unbelievably supportive family and the money to pay for good childcare. How, as a society, are we not supporting single mothers 100%?

“We should literally be wrapping them in cotton wool and giving them a cuddle. Saying absolutely we will help [them] as much as we possibly can. That we’re not seems insane.”

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