File this under things we thought we’d never see: a seven-months pregnant Kate Middleton getting body art by a teenage art student. Shocking? Yes, but according to a report by The Mirror, that’s exactly what went down this week as the Duchess of Cambridge visited a music and arts centre in Sunderland. Now, before you truly freak, the art was done with henna ink — a technique that doesn’t puncture the skin and will flake off in a matter of days. But our inner body art lover is impressed by the fact that the royal chose to have a floral design stamped so prominently on her right hand, no matter how temporary.
According to 18-year-old henna tattoo artist Shajida Begum, Middleton readily agreed to getting a design, the publication reports. When the floral motif — drawn on the top of her hand between the thumb and index finger — was finished, Middleton commented on its beauty and requested a pack of bindis to take home to her daughter Charlotte.
Henna tattooing is nothing new. The centuries-old art is a tradition in Indian culture, something typically done as part of a Mehndi ceremony to adorn the hands and feet for Hindu weddings and festivals. The beautiful custom has become celebrated outside of Indian culture and, yes, appropriated by the festival crowd.
Given the relentless power of “the Middleton effect” (ie, the royal’s ability to spark beauty and fashion trends left and right), we won’t be surprised if we start seeing a resurgence in the art form in pop culture. For those interested in taking this page from the Middleton beauty playbook, may we kindly suggest co-opting another aspect of the Duchess’s methods? Take the time to learn about the art form and its cultural and historical significance before undergoing intricate designs, that way, you can share its context, too.