Kate Middleton: A Throwback Princess?

Kate Middleton: Role model? (Photo by Getty Images)Kate Middleton is in nesting mode, taking cooking class so she can prepare new meals for Prince William, according to a story Monday in US Weekly.

It's an unlikely move for Middleton who has been dubbed a modern-day princess by the media. She wears blue jeans, shops at the Gap, and is a rumored yoga junkie. And like many women, Middleton has an evolved take on love, not only having shacked up with Prince William before they were married but dating him for a whopping 8 years (a move that earn her the nickname "Waity Katie" for waiting so long for a proposal). At 31, she's also an older newlywed, a far cry from Princess Di who was just 20-years-old when she wed Prince Charles and who later referred to her entrance into the royal family as a "lamb being led to the slaughter." And much like any trendy public figure, Middleton has even endured a nude photo scandal.

But for all the ways that Middleton reflects a modern day gal—royalty! They're just like us!—is a princess who's celebrated for her fashion choices and baby bump more of a throwback than a feminist role model?

At a time when 'leaning in' is a cultural reference point, and even Disney princesses face scrutiny—it's curious that Kate Middleton is the great celebrity equalizer for women and girls. We love Kate. We want to look like her, dress like her, love like her and generally follow in her footsteps. But what does that really entail? With women outpacing men in the classroom and the boardroom—graduating college at higher rates than guys and outnumbering them in the office—Kate's path to success appears  old-fashioned. Despite earning a degree in art history, the Duchess opted for a part-time job at her parent's company, a decision she defended in her first interview with Prince William in 2010. And while Middleton is remarkably poised and sharply media savvy, she seems more interested in blending in with the royal family than shaking things up or expressing her individuality. 

Granted, being a princess comes with some serious etiquette training, but consider Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, a former investment banker who's volunteered to be "lice mother" at her daughter's school (yes, that means checking children's heads for lice), swam the Amsterdam canals for charity, and has a habit of speaking her mind no matter what King Willem-Alexander thinks, shows its possible to be regal and a risk-taker.

photo by: Samir Hussein/Getty Images
Kate Middleton attends the Princess cruise ship naming ceremony on June 13, 2013 in Southampton, England.
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Getty Images | Photo By Samir Hussein / Getty Images
Thu, Jun 13, 2013 12:00 PM EDT