We’ve been a fan of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for years now here at Peaceful Dumpling. I love that she’s been so authentically herself while thrust into such intense media scrutiny and often, cruelty. She’s beautiful, intelligent, feminist, philanthropic—just leave the poor woman be! Since leaving the official duties of the Royal Family and starting her life anew in California, Meghan has begun a string of new projects and appearances, the most important of which is her podcast, Archetypes, an $18 million Spotify exclusive. I tuned into its second-ever episode (first one with a guest) and I have some thoughts.
1. Archetypes takes apart the negative boxes women have been put in
The first archetype or box that Meghan tackles with her guest Serena Williams is “ambitious,” a word she’s been called thousands of times in a negative context. The next episode deals with “diva,” with OG diva Mariah Carey. “Women have been put in boxes like diva, crazy, the b-word, slut,” said Meghan. I think this is her way of coping with the tremendous backlash she received, simply for falling in love with the world’s most eligible bachelor—because some cranky, racist, misogynists thought, how dare she? While I don’t think any of her detractors will be tuning in, I admire her spirit in addressing criticism head-on and making something positive out of it.
2. Prince Harry will occasionally pop by
I love that Prince Harry casually dropped in and said, “I like what you’ve done with your hair, it’s a great vibe,” to Serena Williams. Isn’t it amazing that Prince Harry says things like “it’s a vibe”? Then they all were like, we should hang out more and Meghan said, “Let’s make plans.” Just some busy couple friends trying to fit in wine night in the middle of dominating the world. Relatable.
3. Serena Williams is unapologetically competitive.
“I was always competitive. I had to, had to win,” says the queen of tennis. When she was 11 years old, an interviewer asked Serena “If you were a tennis player, who would you want to be?” Then young Serena answered, “I want people to be like me.” Mic drop. If that’s not the mind of a future champion, I don’t know what is. And it lifts my shame over my own wish to make a mark in the world.
4. Ambition is a “dirty, dirty word when it comes to women”
Meghan claims: “I didn’t know about the negative connotations of the word until I started dating my now-husband. Apparently it’s a terrible, terrible thing—for a woman that is. I can’t unsee it… Millions of women and girls who make themselves smaller.” I can’t claim to be Mrs. Harry or anyone like that, but as someone who was also thrust in the public eye as a writer and attacked as “ambitious,” this really rings true. I relate to the shock and trauma that both Meghan and Serena experienced—and on one hand, feel consoled that in a “culture that doesn’t prize ambitious women,” as Meghan put it, there’s no way for a woman to succeed and escape unfair criticism. Although that doesn’t make this situation fair, it makes it a bit more bearable knowing incredible women are also subject to this.
5. Be yourself to win.
While Meghan and Serena don’t have answers to how to fix this societal problem (that’s like saying you can solve climate change!), there is something you can take away from all this. “I can’t win being someone different,” Serena said about the times when critics made her afraid to “be Serena.” I often think about whether I should act a certain way to appease my critics or to double down on my me-ness and live authentically. You shouldn’t prioritize your enemies over yourself—not only because then you’d be miserable and your enemies would be happy, but because you would then miss out on the chance to win.
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