Why being born into fame isn’t such a good thing…In April last year, when photos of singer Beyonce, her husband Jay Z and their baby daughter Blue Ivy holidaying in Italy were posted online, social media sites almost went into meltdown with the thousands of comments posted. Many of the comments were mean and nasty, criticising the parents and Blue Ivy for having a messy afro. There was even a Twitter hashtag #BlueIvyHair where the debate continued. A few months later, Blue Ivy was again heavily criticised for wearing her hair in braids. Luckily she’s too young to read, but she’s not the only child who has been born into the public eye and consequently picked on by numerous haters and keyboard heroes. Children like Apple Martin, daughter of Coldplay front man Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, who was ridiculed for her name.
“No one likes being criticised,” says Dr Yalda T. Uhls, a development psychologist from LA. “Online is especially challenging as it is visible to a large audience and pervasive,” she told The Newsroom.
The reason we’re so fascinated by the children is due to their gene pool. “We perceive famous people almost in the same mode as the Greek gods were perceived,” says Robert J. Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University. “If you have parents from the Pantheon, then the kids are interesting by the very fact that they have such spectacular genes.”
According to Dr. Uhls, being born into fame isn’t as great as it seems.
One reason is the comparison between the parent and child. It is possible that a child may feel they can’t live up to their parents’ image, ultimately letting them down. This could cause many problems for a growing child. People may also treat them differently, not because of who they are, but who their parents are. This induces a sense of importance within the community that they haven’t worked for themselves… and this all comes before the tender age of five. What kind of childhood is this?
“Children born into fame experience a different upbringing and teenage years,” says Dr Uhls.
“When they are experiencing identity development would be especially challenging.”
What if a child gets confused between the roles an actor plays? Being Johnny Depp’s offspring would be confusing as hell, one minute he’s a super cool pirate and the next he’s going mad and talking to rabbits at dinner parties. What if a child watched their mother or father die in an on-screen death and couldn’t differentiate between reality and fiction? How do we stop the worst traits of Hollywood accessing these children?
Some celebrities take drastic measures to ensure their children avoid appearing in the media into their own hands. In a recent interview with GQ, Kanye West vowed to take drastic measures to “raise the respect level for celebrities so that my daughter can live a normal life.”
“She [North] didn’t choose to be a celebrity. But she is. So I’m going to fight to makes sure she has a better life,” said West.
When West said drastic, he meant it. British magazine Grazia reported that the Wests’ pay $500,000 a year for a baby double for their daughter North. According to Grazia, auditions were held in Los Angeles for North look-alikes. Similarly, Tom Cruise and his ex-wife Katie Holmes reportedly also used body doubles to protect their daughter Suri.
Last year, thanks to the testimonies from actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, California passed Senate Bill 606 into law. This meant from January 1 2014, photographers found harassing and singling out minors due to their parents’ profession (actors, singers, politicians, etc.) could spend up to a year behind bars and could pay fines upwards of $30,000.
“I love my kids. They’re beautiful, sweet, and innocent and I don’t want a gang of shouting, arguing, law-breaking photographers – who camp out everywhere we are, all day every day – to continue traumatizing my kids,” Garner said in her testimony, before breaking down into tears.
“My children aren’t actors or celebrities, they are just kids like your kids or anyone else’s,” Garner continued. “And just like you want to protect your children, I want to protect mine. What is the psychological toll of being the object of incessant harassment? What happens to the mind of a child when the only thing they see from the outside world is aggression, hostility, and pursuit?”
Actress Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has been the leading role of the No Kids Policy, a crusade to keep a safe distance between the paparazzi and celebrities’ children. After posing for photographer Jason Bell (no relation!) this month the actress talked about how her career choices can affect her daughter Lincoln and pointed out where the media needs to improve.
“I signed up to be an actor, and I understand there are consequences,” said Bell. “My daughter, on the other hand, should not have to accept that lifestyle because of the choices I made. There’s a very big difference between a mother taking a photo of her baby and a kid coming out of school followed by 10 strange men with cameras,” said Bell. “A child can’t comprehend the media machine; she feels hunted.”
Since the birth of their daughter in 2013, Bell and her husband Dax Shepard have been very opinionated on this topic and have declined interviews with any media outlets who are known to purchase these type of images from the paparazzi. Thankfully, People magazine, Entertainment Weekly and celebrity website JustJared.com stated that they’re joining the No Kids Policy she created. As she said, “No child should be fair game.” – Alana Scott
Top photo taken from Kim Kardashian’s Twitter page.