Meghan’s Take on Royal Life: It’s the Pits

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, after their recent stay in Canada. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

In what may prove to be their last appearance as full-time “senior royals,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited London’s Canada House last week to say thanks for the hospitality they received during a six-week Vancouver plotting and scheming holiday break.

Who could have predicted the next move on the royal chessboard — that their “Sussex-cion” was mere hours away? Instead of the notice that appeared on their SussexRoyal Instagram, I would have loved to have seen something like this:

“Too-da-loo Granny! Can’t stand the musty royal palace life, and despite the renovation, Frogmore Cottage isn’t doing it for me. Therefore, I’m taking Harry and Archie to live across the pond. The plan is to crash in Canada until Trump is out of office (that’s what I promised my faithful followers on The Tig, and I always honor my word), then hightail it to L.A. There we’ll be hailed as global celebrities. Hopefully, that’s only one year, not five! Anyway, not to worry about our taxpayer stipend – we’ll be raking it in off our #SussexRoyal name (thanks for that!). BTW if you need to contact us for any reason, don’t be shy about asking Oprah or Elton to reach out. #bye4Now

Back in the real world, while Harry appeared as cool as a cucumber during the visit, Meghan, ever the actress, flashed her toothsome smile. However, if you looked closely at the photos, an involuntary, yet a clear sign of heightened anxiety was in full view. Dark rings of perspiration ringing the underarms of her brown Massimo Dutti sweater belied her controlled exterior.

Of course, not knowing what was coming, I thought she must be “sweating the small stuff.” Forget the lashing she is supposedly getting from the British press – it was the good ‘ol Internet that dealt the low blows. “Hasn’t she ever heard of deodorant?” is one of the kinder, gentler ones.

Donna Karan for Gillette Dry Idea’s TV commercial

“Never let them see you sweat” — the tagline from Gillette’s Dry Idea’s antiperspirant commercials (1984-mid-‘1990s) immediately “rolled-on” to my head. The memorable 30-second spots, created by adman Phil Slot of BBD (of his equally standout “It’s not a job, it’s an adventure” Navy recruitment campaign, as well as TWA’s “Up, Up and Away”) featured some heavy-hitters of the time.

They included Fashion designers Donna Karan, Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves, model/actress Lauren Hutton, actor Robert S. Woods, and comedian Elayne Boosler all appearing in individual commercials listing three “NEVERS” in their respective industry. The third “Never” was always the catchy slogan “Never let them see you sweat.” Slott’s theory: “Saying what you won’t get is more compelling than saying what you will get.”

“There are three “NEVERS” in fashion design,” uttered a forward-leaning, imposingly framed Donna Karan; “Never confuse fad with fashion. Never forget it’s your name on every label. And, when showing your lines to the press, never let them see you sweat.” The phrase “Never let them see you sweat” has since entered our lexicon in various ways. It is generally agreed that those in authority roles benefit from hiding their weak side (presidents, candidates for elected office, heads of state, business leaders, particularly women).

The counter-argument – those of an elevated status who display their humanity, or vulnerability are actually demonstrating an “authenticity” or “realness” to those of a lower rank. This may explain the current fad for celebrity women (particularly those of a certain age in Hollywood or glamour adjacent fields) to make a statement with bare-faced, sans fards, “I-woke-up-like-this” Instagram selfies.

Model Paulina Porizkova, the mid-50’s estranged, grieving wife of recently deceased rocker and Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, may have lead the charge. Racing out at the head of 2020, she boldly went where mostly younger (“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”) women have gone before. What was she really saying by posting her real, unfiltered, unembellished, undyed gray roots in a photo to the Gram?

The extended essay underneath explained her thoughts on aging – the question of whether to try to conform to standards of beauty via cosmetic surgery i.e., “fit in the box” or to work to try to “blow up the fucking box.” This is the real struggle of someone who’s profited all their life from their extreme beauty but now strives for relatability as youth slips away.

Since it was posted on January 2, this entry has received 40.1k likes and over 7,000 comments ranging from those commiserating with Porizkova, sharing their own stories of grief and loss of a loved one, to those telling her she is still beautiful. Apparently, one poster told her she looks better with makeup, to which she answered: “Yes, I’m sure you do too.”

Rita Wilson’s Instagram selfie

Was gorgeous actress Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks) perhaps influenced by the “realness” impulse when she decided to post her own undone face, undone hair, unsexy sexagenarian selfie just preceding her Golden Globes appearance in which her hubby was to receive the lifetime achievement award? Wilson wanted the world to know that her unnamed hair and makeup man showed up at least an hour and a half late.

While “trying to be zen” certainly put her in the spotlight –- was it for the right reasons? Her post received 35.8k likes and over 3,000 comments running the gamut from calling her “privileged,” telling her to “do it yourself,” or stating that she is “still the most beautiful woman in the room.” Fellow Hollywood denizen Chrissy Teigen (and wife of singer John Legend) tried in vain to get Wilson to divulge the name of the errant MUA (which didn’t happen, at least not publicly).

The question of when or if to let it “all hang out” continues to be debated. As the ever-popular Blackglama mink ad, used to ask, “What becomes a legend most?” In the end, I’ve gotta go with Donna Karan’s script for Dry Idea: “Feeling tense is understandable. Looking tense is unfashionable.” Where to send Meghan’s free sample?

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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