I recently went out with somebody who, upon my discussion of writing about Kate Middleton‘s pregnancy, asked, “Who is Kate Middleton?”
My head snapped towards him and gave him a look. “Who? Who is Kate Middleton? Meaning you have no idea?”
“No idea. Is she a singer?”
Is she a singer? My mouth was sort of open and I must’ve looked pretty shocked until it dawned on me that to me and anybody who follows celebrity news (for fun or for work or for curiosity), Middleton has her life plastered everywhere. We know exactly what she does, where she goes, who she wears and entirely too much about the fetus growing inside her. Not everybody knows who she is, sure, but she is so famous that it literally strikes awe in me to meet somebody who has no clue who the Duchess of Cambridge is. Today, the question is: Is that power?
According to BBC Radio 4’s first-ever Women’s Hour top 100 list, counting down the one hundred most powerful women in the United Kingdom, Middleton does not possess power; she possesses influence. But, oddly enough, Queen Elizabeth does in their eyes — she took the title of number 1.
The panel was comprised of conservative MP Priti Patel, politician and peer Oona King (who, according to E!, was just on Britain’s Dancing on Ice), crime novelist Val McDermid and journalist Eve Pollard. It was Pollard who spoke of the omission, admitting the potential for controversy:
“Inevitably not everyone will agree with our 100. There are some omissions. For example, we had long debates about the Duchess of Cambridge.
“Is she influential? Hugely. Is she powerful? Not yet.
“Most women on our list have power because they have reached a place where they have control—of policy, of direction, of influence, of staff. The panel also included some women who have soft power—the ability to transform the way we think about ourselves.”
Here’s the thing: if she hadn’t included that last sentence, I would agree with her in all likelihood. But Middleton certainly has the ability to transform how we think about ourselves — for goodness’ sake, the woman has people attempting to surgically resemble her. Fans want her wardrobe, her style, her body, her wedding dress, her life…people’s self images and how they want to seem themselves are able to be transformed by Middleton.
Nevertheless, she doesn’t really fall under the first few qualifiers, I suppose, so her omission might make sense anyway. What do you think? Is being an extraordinary famous person part of being powerful? Or does it mean people are just interested in you?