For some Royal Family fans, Meghan Markle can do nothing right. Even when the former actor is reading a very adorable board book to son Archie on his first birthday to raise money for a children’s charity, they find a way to mom-shame her. On Wednesday, best-selling author Emily Giffin decided to post her own harsh opinion of Markle’s video, and the backlash was swift, to say the least. You don’t have to be a mom to understand what’s wrong with Giffin’s comments, but it hurts a little more when you are.
Giffin, a self-professed Anglophile, posted a text message conversation to her Instagram Stories about Markle’s Save With Stories video for Save the Children, in which she reads Duck! Rabbit! to Archie.
“Archie is adorable but that video screamed look at me!” wrote Giffin’s friend, in the screenshot Twitter user Kaitlin Menza shared. “It was also sad how she seemed just slightly annoyed Archie wasn’t fully cooperating to her standards.”
— Kaitlin Menza (@heykmenz) May 6, 2020
To this, Giffin agreed, “Completely!” and added, “She seemed so unmaternal. It was uncomfortable. She’s such a phony.”
This is a wild assessment of the video. While Archie tried to turn the pages of the book back to the front cover, his mom gently got back to the pages she’s reading. Maybe if she were just reading to him, she’d let him go in whichever direction he wants to, but she was reading the story for other kids, too, to raise money for a charity.
But, of course, it’s entirely within Giffin’s rights to say whatever she wants to about Markle and her parenting skills, especially in a text conversation. What was probably unwise was her decision to post this conversation publicly. She also posted more commentary to her Instagram Story, criticizing Markle for even being in the video in the first place. “Why didn’t she film and let Harry read? And why didn’t she take the moment at the end to say, ‘He said daddy!’ Because that would make it about Harry for a split second, God forbid…”
That last bit is also up for debate. Maybe he said “da-da,” or maybe he said “duck,” referring to the book, as Markle interpreted. And, um, a mom might be the best authority on her child’s baby talk?
You can head over to Menza’s tweet to see the shocked replies, many by authors and others in the publishing biz. Some wonder if the Something Borrowed and Love the One You’re With author was trying to drum up publicity for her book that’s coming out in June. If so, the backlash may have gone further than she anticipated, as she’s now set her social media accounts to private. Markle supporters have also been flooding Giffin’s Amazon page with one-star reviews. (Sample review title: “A book by Karen about Karen.”)
I don’t know if Markle cares about this kind of response to her video — I hope she never hears about it. But I hope other moms don’t internalize the message that daring to put ourselves in a video with our children is wrong. News flash: Moms can also put themselves first once in a while. Or, they can even prioritize a fundraising effort for other children before their curious toddler for a couple of minutes. The idea that her husband should have been in the video instead makes me want to throw things.
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“Duck! Rabbit!” by @akrfoundation & @tlichtenheld (published by @chroniclekidsbooks). Read by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex (with Harry, The Duke of Sussex behind the camera) to their son Archie for his 1st Birthday. Happy Birthday, Archie! . THIRTY MILLION CHILDREN rely on school for food. Responding to the needs of kids during these school closures @savethechildren and @nokidhungry have a new fund @SAVEWITHSTORIES to support food banks, and mobile meal trucks, and community feeding programs with funds to do what they do best—and also—with educational toys, books, and worksheets to make sure brains are full, as well as bellies. . If you can manage a one time gift of $10, please text SAVE to 20222. If another amount would work better for you, please visit our website—link in bio. There is no maximum and there is no minimum—together we will rise and together we can help. . Thank you and stay safe. XX #SAVEWITHSTORIES
According to E!, Giffin posted a sort of non-apology statement to her private Instagram yesterday. She said she was initially a big fan of Markle and celebrated their marriage wholeheartedly, but her opinion of the couple has changed since they left their royal duties.
“But I can say from the bottom of my heart that my criticism of Meghan has never had anything to do with her race,” said the statement. “Further, I understood why she wanted to leave the monarchy and carve out her own path. I do, however, find fault with the way BOTH she and Harry handled things, and those feelings bled over in later posts, including the ones today. I can see how some of my posts may have felt mean-spirited, and could be construed as having racial undertones. It was not my intent, but I understand that intent and impact are two very different things. And I am truly sorry for that negative impact.”
OK, so you’re not racist but just against a woman ever being the center of attention now that she has a child. Noted.
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Looking for what to read to your own children next (on or off camera)? Here are 75 books every kid should read, from baby to teen.