The internet is furious today as Billboard magazine committed a social media blunder of epic proportions, likening a picture of 2-year-old North West licking a lollipop to her mother and reality TV persona Kim Kardashian West giving oral sex to Ray J, recalling the sex tape which initially threw her into the spotlight.
Earlier this week came news that Tatler had also branded David Beckham’s son Brooklyn “hot, ready and legal”, despite him just turning 16 years old. And this isn’t the first time that the media has speedily jumped onto the child-sexualisation bandwagon, with the likes of Britney Spears, Charlotte Church, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez having been sexualised very early on in their careers.
Viewing children in this sexual way is simply wrong – when journalists publish this type of article, everyone who gives it the green light very forcefully takes famous children’s innocence away from them and places a completely different, more damaging kind of pressure on them, and one which they may not necessarily understand or want. Making a teenager like Brookyln Beckham into a sex symbol, and worse, painting a 2 year old like North West in the same light, is damaging for them and other teenagers and children too, who may feel they also need to aspire to an image that is sexual and appealing in only physical terms.
It would horrify any parent if someone approached them and said that their child was looking ‘hot, ready and legal’, or that their child reminded them of the parent in an intimate and sexual act. So why does a renowned publication like Billboard think it is okay to unleash such a warped view into the public domain? What makes the media different from child groomers? If our media organisations are the one leading these kind of labels on the children that either find or fall into fame, then who the hell can we look to as a source of justice or righteousness? Publications like Billboard and Tatler are letting everyone else say what they are saying too, making it easier to create a culture of child sexualisation that simply shouldn’t exist.
Tatler and Billboard shouldn’t get away with it. If our media organisations are the ones leading the perception of famous children in this uncomfortable and overtly sexual way, then who can we look to as a source of morality or righteousness? Publications like these allow everyone else to follow suit, making it easier to create a worrying culture of media-induced child grooming.
Today’s tweet about North West was especially disturbing as it suggested that a 2-year-old had the sexual potential to imitate the actions of her mother in a moment of childish innocence. North West’s portrayal in this way is disgraceful, giving the impression that a child can only be the bearer of her mother’s lucratively sexual past, and that North West can and will be included into Kim Kardashian West’s slut-shaming by Billboard magazine.
After all of this, who can blame Britney Spears for shaving off all her hair and breaking down back in 2007? No one at all.