Predictably, it was only a matter of minutes (seconds?) between the announcement that Prince Harry is engaged to 36-year-old American actress Meghan Markle, and the tsunami of comments about Markle's ticking biological clock.
It's too bad the following points need to be made at all, but here we go:
- Markle's decision about when or if or how to have kids with Prince Harry is her business, and both of theirs, and that's all. What we said about Gwen Stefani, and every other over-scrutinized celebrity of advanced maternal age, still stands: Leave her ALONE already.
- Should Markle decide to have one or more kids in her late 30s or 40s, she can make that decision in her own time, and she has plenty of options.
- Going on about Markle's "advanced maternal age," without mentioning that Prince Harry is fast approaching 35 himself, is insulting. Even though women are the child-bearers, both women and men over 35 should be aware of the potential factors and risks they might face in bringing a human into the world—and this is not intended to alarm anyone, since "advanced age" parenthood is a more popular and viable option than ever before. And parental age brings its own benefits too. In any case, we're guessing the new royal couple are smart and informed and don't need nasty, judgmental, "concerned" gawkers, thanks very much.
Moving on: The only upside to this public handwringing about Markle's age, and the suddenly rampant speculation about her pregnancy plans, would be if it raised awareness about maternal health issues that women of all ages can face—especially in the U.S., which has a shockingly high rate of maternal mortality, actually the worst maternal death rate in the developed world.
In fact, the U.K., Markle's soon-to-be home, is improving its maternal health outcomes at a much faster rate than the U.S.: In Britain, according to the medical journal The Lancet, "a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is." Meanwhile in the U.S., the maternal death rate went up by a staggering 26 percent between 2000 and 2014 (see link above for more). So let's focus on the important health-related issues that we can actually work together to solve, taking the U.K. as an inspiration and a concrete example of how this is possible. And let's leave the waste-of-time B.S. for another day, can we?
BTW: Romper just posted a great piece about the Markle debacle, and why everyone needs to back off. Definitely worth the five-minute read.
Photo by Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons.