In what came as a shock to the world, American actress and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle on Wednesday revealed that she had a miscarriage over the summer. The 39-year-old member of the British royal family who is a mother to Archie, wrote in a heartfelt admission that she and her husband Prince Harry had been living with the grief of losing their second child.
But in the emotional opinion piece that Markle wrote for the New York Times, the Dutchess spoke of a matter that plagues millions of women across the world - the stigma around miscarriage.
In the piece, Markle writes that “despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation (about miscarriage) remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."
The news was met with an expected flurry of condolences and consolations for The Suits actress as well as messages congratulating her on her strength in coming out. Markle was praised for using her platform and turn her tragedy into an inspiration for women across the world.
The negativity, however, was not far behind. Much like model Chrissy Teigen who had received backlash for sharing news of her miscarriage, the Dutchess of Sussex was not spared the barbs and criticism.
Not all, however, was bleak. Markle saw a sea of support from her fans as well as gender rights activists and proponents of women’s health. Many took to social media to defend the Royal and her decision to share the news of her miscarriage with the world.
Meghan Markle won't see the all of the nasty shit you write about her but your friends who have experienced miscarriages and the loss of a baby will.— Paisley Thomson (@PaisleyThomson) November 25, 2020
There are wayyyy too many ‘taboo’ topics for women. Miscarriages, fertility issues, painful periods etc. All issues that occur without any fault of the woman but society expects you to suffer in silence just because… It’s utterly ridiculous. — Ezomime (@Onimiya_) November 25, 2020
Markle’s moving revelation also made many women recall their own miscarriages. “About three weeks ago, I miscarried my triplets. This isn't the first of my miscarriages, but it was the most difficult. When women in the public eye step up and share their experiences, it empowers and comforts us all. Thank you, Meghan Markle." a Twitter user wrote. Another user whose wife had lost a bay said, “Having gone through a miscarriage should not be a membership card to a secret club of silently going through grief and talking about it in hushed tones as if it’s a taboo or a shame to carry".
About three weeks ago, I miscarried my triplets. This isn't the first of my miscarriages, but it was the most difficult. When women in the public eye step up and share their experiences, it empowers and comforts us all. Thank you, Meghan Markle. #areyouok https://t.co/A0NCpSzwiH— we won by a landslide (@linkandfire) November 25, 2020
I just read Meghan Markle’s piece on Miscarriage and how it almost feels like a secret club that mourns in isolation and silence, published on the NYT and What many of you don’t know is that before we had Yomelela, there was Milani and unfortunately my wife miscarried.
— YouTube: HattrickHeroes_ (@Mtha_Veekay) November 25, 2020
Having gone through a miscarriage should not be a membership card to a secret club of silently going through grief and talking about it in hushed tones as if it’s a taboo or a shame to carry.— YouTube: HattrickHeroes_ (@Mtha_Veekay) November 25, 2020
Actress Jameela Jamil called the criticism for revealing her miscarriage and discussing something that was considered “too personal" was just a way to promote and further enable a “culture of silence around the issue that keeps so many people in a state of shame/guilt/loneliness/misinformation."
When you criticize Meghan for discussing miscarriage, because it’s “too personal” for her to share, you’re enabling the culture of silence around the issue that keeps so many people in a state of shame/guilt/loneliness/misinformation. People NEED to know they aren’t alone in this— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 25, 2020
Apart from parents and women on social media, women’s rights activists, and baby loss or miscarriage charities, women’s health experts have also lauded Markle for her bravery and way of setting an example.
“When someone like the Duchess of Sussex speaks out it can help people feel less alone and more able to reach out for help," Clea Harmer, who works for a charity working with stillbirth and neonatal death, told The Guardian.
Experts also warned of the 12-week-silence rule - which generally means that parents hold off on discussing or making prenatal announcements before the birth of a child up till 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Despite no clear medical guidance or precedence for the practice, it is popular among parents not just in the United Kingdom or the US but in several other countries.
This not only adds to miscarriage stigma but also leads to gaps in women’s health and mental well-being as the initial weeks of pregnancy are said to be the hardest for the body.
First Teigen and then Markle opening up about their miscarriages and showing real, human emotions is perhaps the opposite of what women, members of the British Royal family have seldom done. Queen Elizabeth, at 94, is known to be notoriously tight-lipped about her personal life, as are other members of the royalty, particularly in matters of childbirth and parenting.
Markle’s admission comes amidst heightened interest in the personal lives of the royals, thanks to a new Netflix web series that follows the lives of the royals from the time of Queen Elizabeth to Princess Diana.