Tuesday, June 25

Meghan’s right about the British stiff upper lip



Meghan Markle has opened up about the impact of the racist vitriol towards her in British tabloids, saying that she tried hard to ignore it but ultimately, she’s not OK.

I’ve said for a long time to H that’s what I call him it is not enough to just survive something. That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive and feel happy, she told ITV’s Tom Bradby. ‘I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried. But I think what that does internally is probably really damaging.

The candid interview, given as part of their ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, has been met with praise but sadly and unsurprisingly, backlash from those wishing to defend the pillar of British culture.

It’s baffling to watch it unfold, to see people defending a notion defined as remaining resolute and unemotional when faced with adversity. Because, when you consider that 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from a mental health problem, it’s clear that Markle is right keeping calm and carrying on is actually extremely damaging.

Suppressing emotions does not simply allow them to disappear, but in fact, forces them to manifest in other ways. It’s something we’ve been told time and time again by experts and yet something many of us are guilty of doing in the vein of ‘just getting on with it.

‘People who might be classed as emotionally strong the stiff upper lipped are more likely to end up with depression or PTSD than those who recognise their need to express their feelings, consultant clinical psychologist Sally Austen told The Guardian last year.

And that’s a lot of us in Britain, as a 2013 study by Benenden Health found that six in 10 people regularly put on a brave face to avoid being a burden. It’s something Prince William also spoke out against in 2017, saying that we have inherited the damaging mentality not to talk about our problems from generations dating back to the war.

It doesn’t just impact our mental health either. According to a separate 2013 study by University College London, maintaining a stiff upper lip can also prevent early presentation for cancer symptoms as British patients fear wasting doctors time more than those in other countries.

Essentially, this idea that our problems are insignificant in the face of others, that we should ‘get on with it’ regardless of how we’re feeling has fuelled many a mental and physical health crisis.