Meghan Markle broke down “the bimbo” stereotype with Paris Hilton in the latest episode of her “Archetypes” podcast.
The Duchess of Sussex, 41, reminisced about her “fascinating” experience as a briefcase girl on the “Deal or No Deal” game show while she was pursuing acting, a few years before landing her role in the dramatic series “Suits.”
The former actress appeared on Season 2 of the show in 2006, and while she acknowledged that she was “grateful” for the job, she felt she was valued for all the wrong reasons.
Markle said she would be on set for the game show and think back to her time as a college intern at the US Embassy in Argentina, where she was “being valued specifically for my brain.”
“Here, I was being valued for something quite the opposite,” she said about “Deal or No Deal.”
“There was a very cookie-cutter idea of precisely what we should look like,” Markle added, sharing that girls would line up at tapings for different stations where they would put on lashes, get extensions put in or get padding in their bras — and they even received spray tan vouchers every week.”
“It was solely about beauty, and not necessarily about brains,” she said.
Markle shared one detail she would “never forget,” when one producer on the show, who couldn’t pronounce her last name, would scream, “Mar-kell suck it in!” repeatedly.
She ended up quitting the show, revealing she was “thankful for the job, but not how it made me feel, which was not smart.”
“I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me, but that wasn’t the focus of why we were there,” Markle said.
“I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach, knowing I was so much more than what was being objectified on the stage,” she continued. “I didn’t like feeling forced to be all looks and little substance. And that’s how it felt for me at the time, being reduced to this specific archetype.”
For the episode, Markle interviewed Hilton, who she says “built an entire brand out of being the dumb blond,” about “The Bimbo” stereotype — after admitting she was “the most nervous” for this interview because she had judged the 41-year-old “Simple Life” star.
“While I’m embarrassed to admit it, I had a judgment about Paris, and I don’t like having judgment — doesn’t feel good,” Markle said later in the episode when speaking just to the audience. “But I had to be real about that, because when I grew up, she was beautiful, rich and famous. ‘What could possibly be wrong with her life?’ I would think.”
“And because my entire sense of self-confidence was wrapped up in being the smart one and not the pretty one, I found the way to project all of my judgment and envy on to her,” she continued. “Envy can be a very dangerous thing as can judgment. I was ashamed to admit that I harbored either of those feelings . . . I’m sorry for having judged her. I didn’t know her.”
Markle shared that it was hard for her to think about what she would talk about with Hilton when so much of the reality star’s identity “was about not leaning into being smart.”
Hilton shared she was playing the role of “dumb blond,” while her “Simple Life” co-star Nicole Richie was the troublemaker.
“I almost got stuck and lost in the character, and at some point, it’s like lines got blurred and I forgot who I was,” Hilton said. “And it makes me sad because I used to be such a free spirit, not so closed off, and I think with so many things that happened to me during the years I just closed off in a way in my mind and I wish it didn’t happen. Going through trauma affects you.”
“For me, when you say it’s sad . . . I think it’s so sad you don’t even get the opportunity,” Markle responded. “It makes me emotional thinking about it — you don’t get the opportunity to start to think about the woman you want to be with a blank slate.”
When defining the word “bimbo” with Hilton, the Markle admitted she wanted “higher aspirations” for her 1-year-old daughter, Lilibet.
“I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this idea because when I hear the word ‘bimbo,’ I have a very negative connotation to it,” she told Hilton.
“I don’t see that as an aspirational thing for a woman. I want our daughters to aspire to be slightly higher. I want my Lili to want to be educated and want to be smart and to pride herself on those things.”
Hilton shared of her own daughter: “I don’t want her to think it’s cool to be a dumb blond or to dumb herself down for society or for anything like that.”