Ever since entering into the public eye, the Duchess of Cambridge has been the subject of body image chatter – most of it focused on her exceptional thinness.
So it was with much relief to moms the world over that she emerged from the Lindo wing of St. Mary's Hospital yesterday looking radiant and healthy – deflated "mummy tummy" and all.
Indeed, second to the delight of glimpsing the Royal Baby (his fingers and tawny-haired head, at least) was the sight of Kate's post-partum pooch.
The U.K.'s Daily Mail has collected praise from mommy bloggers who note that Middleton's bump set a good and realistic example for expectant mothers and women in general.
"In a couple of minutes on the steps of the Lindo Wing Kate has done more for new mums' self-esteem than any other role model," Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard told the newspaper.
All true. Except the gushing over Kate's mummy tummy is also premature; after all, she had just given birth 24 hours earlier. A belly that expanded over nine months does not magically disappear overnight, even if that belly belongs to the wife and mother of future kings.
In all likelihood, we will see her back to her lithe, athletic self within the month – not unlike the models and celebrities (Giselle Bundchen, Victoria Beckham) who often emerge with tauter torsos than before having babies.
Still, the custom blue and white polka dot dress from British designer Jenny Packham could not have been a more perfect – even strategic – choice for Kate's big photo moment; its empire waist flattered her figure (still slim by anyone's standards) while also accentuating the precise shape of her remaining roundness. Certainly, it was a younger, fresher approach than the green shapeless dress worn by Diana when she first appeared with William.
Women have already taken cue from Kate's first fashion statement as a new mum, with sales of polka dot dresses surging since yesterday's appearance.
You can be sure that commenters will have strong feelings, for better or worse, on how Kate reclaims her svelte physique. But for the moment anyway, the bump is reassuring; it is the surest sign that she is no different than any other new mother.