“With each of my three children, I had some form of post-partum.”
So goes the exchange between the US’s unofficial First Lady Ivanka Trump and Dr Mehmet Oz – better known as Dr Oz – on his weekday talk show.
Ivanka, the all-American poster girl for brains, beauty, politics and motherhood, told the world a carefully curated Instagram feed, branding strategy and perfectly tied, ribbon-bearing ponytail are only small slices of her real life.
“It was a very challenging, emotional time for me because I felt like I was not living up to my potential as a parent or as an entrepreneur and an executive. And I had had such easy pregnancies, that in some way the juxtaposition hit me even harder,” she went on.
“I consider myself a very hard-charging person, I am ambitious, I’m passionate, I’m driven but this is something that affects parents all over the country.”
Trump is the mother of Arabella who is six, Joseph who is three and Theodore, aged 17 months.
When pressed by Dr Oz as to why now, after a lifetime in the eye of the public, she chose to tell her story, Trump conceded she hadn’t intended to. She was asked a question and, well, the issue is “incredibly important”.
And yes, the conversation IS important. At a local level, more than one in seven new mums, and up to one in 10 new dads, experience postnatal depression each year in Australia.
As Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) says, it can be “a frightening and isolating experience”.
Like all mental illnesses, it has taken time in the limelight, consistent and compassionate public conversations and the occasional admission from someone famous that they’ve suffered – who we know and love – for our perception of post-natal depression to be considered in a sphere of legitimacy and understanding.
We’ve come quite a way. But there’s a long way to go.
Ivanka is famous, has unparalleled influence and has opened her mouth about mental illness, knowing full well how much it will demand of the news cycle. It’s a great, important thing.
Amelia Lester and Mia Freedman unpack Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s spectacular fall from grace. Post continues.
So why hasn’t the response to Ivanka’s frank admission been one of understanding and compassion?
Bluntly, because Ivanka Trump – unlike her father – has rarely spoken a public word without purpose and agenda.
Everything about her life is manicured to perfection. Styled and controlled to convey a specific image and female persona, to push and pull and carve public opinion. It’s the PR life many politicians know.
So naturally, people are suspicious she is not being authentic, and opinions are divided. Journalists, Americans and Twitter-users alike have been both charitable and cynical with their responses.
Buzzfeed’s senior culture writer – and holder of a Ph.D, who wrote a thesis on the gossip industry – Anne Helen Peterson wrote:
“Postpartum depression awareness is v. important but the timing of the release of this information is not accidental. I, Ivanka, also suffer,” she wrote on Twitter.