I was on Radio 2 yesterday, taking part in a discussion with Fern Britton (who’s standing in for Jeremy Vine this week) about whether Katie Price should have made up her two year old daughter Princess in full glamour-girl slap and false eyelashes. I’m on the show’s roster of listeners who usually have an opinion about something, and they put me up against The Apprentice’s Katie Hopkins, who was arguing that it was all a bit of fun at home and little girls had dressed up with mummy for generations.
While this is true, I argued that in my opinion, there is a line between experimenting at being like mummy, dressing up, playing with makeup and wanting to be a princess (as my three and a half year old DD does, a lot) and being made up by your mum to look like a Page Three girl while you’re still in nappies. My first thought when I saw the pic was that little Princess looked like one of those American Pageant mini beauty queens. It made me feel a bit queasy, and although I wouldn’t use the word ‘disgusting’ as Princess’s dad Peter Andre did, I do think it’s a really peculiar thing to do. Little girls are so gorgeous anyway, with their soft peachy skin and general deliciousness, why on earth would you want to swamp them with full make-up? Plus, since her aunty posted the pic on Facebook, it stopped being ‘just a bit of fun at home’.
I worry less about the media’s paedophile/sexualisation of children angle on this than about the self-esteem of little girls, to be honest. It’s going to be tough enough as my DD grows to boost her self-esteem and self-confidence, her appreciation of her body as strong and healthy, her worth as a human being and the value of achievement, and showing her positive role models, when she is already faced with millions of images of tiny, tanned, surgically altered and enhanced WAGs, actresses, singers and wannabes. I want my DD to know she is valuable and precious and loved just the way she is, inside and out. She doesn’t need make-up, pushed-up boobs, size zero clothing and St Tropez to be beautiful or lovable and successful.
I’m not particularly interested in Katie Price and the codependent relationship she has with the tabloids (and I’m as far from a Daily Mail reader as you can get, despite Katie Hopkins’ accusation). I also find it hard to criticise anyone’s parenting – we’re all just trying to be good enough mothers with the tools we have at our disposal. But children have such a ridiculously short babyhood and childhood, I just think that we should let them – and encourage them to be – children for as long as possible. Yes, dressing up, playing at being mummy and wanting to be a princess are completely normal for little girls, but there’s fun, and there’s creating a slightly odd mini-me.
You can listen again to the show until Tuesday 2 March – let me know what you think!