For the last few years I've been sickened by a celebrity trend. It's not the plastic surgery, the fashion, the body shaming - they have become far too ubiquitous and dull to cause outrage.
It's the must have celebrity accessory trend I detest. The child.
No I don't detest the kids. I'm one of those people who drools at babies and lines up for kid cuddles. What I dislike is the use of children to promote an image. Those celebrity shots of parent and child in matching clothes or sharing ice cream. The baby photos are almost acceptable - after all the squished little wrinkled beans all look the same. It's more the fact that we now watch children we don't even know grow up. From Bradgelina's brood to the poor child named after a compass direction the babies, toddlers and tweens of the vacuously and brilliant now litter the internet and the mags we consume at the hairdresser.
Children should have a right to privacy and shouldn't be cannon fodder for cannon lenses. Parents should protect them from voyeurism.
Unfortunately some won't. And others cannot.
Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner lobbied to get a new law in California that makes it illegal to 'harm, annoy, torment or terrorise' children. But when they told a gathering of celebs about it one night a few in the audience wondered whether the supply side of the equation should also be addressed. The photographer and the consumer.
Enter Kristen Bell (the voice of Anna in Frozen) and her partner Dax Shepherd (Parenthood). Disturbed that a tabloid knew their baby's name, time of birth and weight only hours after she was born they were then heartbroken when the first stealth snaps came out. They questioned the acceptance that their child's life could forever be on display.
In January, the actors began the #nokidspolicy campaign on Twitter. They announced they would no longer give interviews to magazines that published photos of celebrity children without consent. Shepard wrote an article about the issue (while adeptly and humorously answering comments about it not being a number one issue and him being a crap actor who should get a real job).
The couple then called for people to boycott magazines who buy the photos, visited TV and magazine offices to talk about the issue and even sat down with celebrity reporters and paparazzi photo agency owner and to them what it was like being surrounded by people yelling and pushing to snap baby photos. They've talked to photo houses like Getty Images and have questioned why Bill Gates who does so much for the world's children would own a company called 'Splash' that traffics celebrity kid photos. They didn't expect to get far.
But five months on and they've actually had an impact. Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, NBC's Today Show, Just Jared, Us Weekly and People magazine and Perez Hilton all agreed to stop publishing unauthorised kid shots.
I once thought we were immune to this creepy trend in this part of the world. But I was horrified when I looked up from having coffee with a friend to see a photographer waiting to get a photo of her new baby. I hope our magazines and websites will follow the initiative.
We can't stop parents parading their progeny to boost their profile and likeability. Magazines and websites will continue to lap up adorable permitted and tweeted photos of kids. I admit it's hard to resist watching the Jolie/Pit children graduate from dummies to hair gel and some of the children like Willow and Jaden Smith seem to love the attention. In the age where kids want to share every mood and move some may argue you can't stop progress.
But the issue revolves around consent, permission and control. As a community we should allow children the freedom to escape the lens and having to learn to look natural. We should let children live their most gorgeous and most awkward years in private, not being watched, judged, shared and consumed like a commodity.
There are probably psychologists who could reveal a lot about the cost of growing up in the public eye but they can't break patient confidentiality. A study in The American Journal of Family Therapy by Gary Mitchell and Harold Cronson identified issues of the celebrity family such as confidentiality and trust, family boundaries, parenting roles, unrealistic expectations of and for the children and family isolation. Other researchers found a family dynamic complicated by fame with anger and resentment.
So, lets follow the #nokidspolicy here. We should avert our eyes from the voyeurism of celebrity kids snapped without permission. And let's question the motives of the well known who overly parade their kids for their own increased popularity.
- Daily Life