Sunday, 7 March 2010

Oh grow up

Who'd want to be the child of a celebrity? Sure, there's the elaborate birthday parties, famous godparents and exotic overseas trips. Plus, you'll never have to go out in clothes that you made yourself in a home-economics class.

But then there's the other side of having parents who regularly feature in Entertainment Weekly. From the moment you're born, you'll endure enough flash photography to trigger an epileptic seizure, and have your every move scrutinised by a voracious media.

Just look at Suri Cruise - she's endured more wardrobe critiques than Lindsay Lohan, and she's not even in school yet. Having said that, little Suri will be kicking up those controversial kitten heels in delight, now that the press have finally found another A-list toddler to go after.

Life & Style Magazine ran an outrageous story last week claiming that Angelina Jolie is encouraging 'transgender' behaviour in one of her Benetton brood. According to the trashy tabloid, little Shiloh's short hair and gender-neutral clothing is a sure sign that she is being "repressed". They even drafted in a panel of experts to condemn "Shiloh’s shocking new look and masculine behavior.”

Here's a shocking news flash - kids like to dress up. Cowboy hats, fairy wings, superhero costumes - they're all fair game when you're a pre-schooler.

Maybe someone should have pointed this out to the editorial team at Life & Style they asked for expert opinion. Alana Kelen, senior fashion stylist at VH1 commented “Shiloh is pushing the boundaries of a tomboy look and crossing over to cross-dresser territory", whereas celebrity stylist Gili Rashal-Niv went one further, stating "I get that times are tough but does Angie really need to have Shiloh sharing clothes with her brothers? Hopefully we won’t be seeing Maddox in one of Shiloh’s dresses any time soon.”

With the concept of cross-dressing and gender displacement thus established, the magazine was then able to rope in a comment from foaming-at-the-mouth conservative group Focus on the Family, who can always be relied upon to kick someone when they're down (and claim religious freedom as they do it). Glenn Stanton, director of the group's Family Formation Studies expressed his concern for the children: "They need help, they need guidance of what that looks like. It’s important to teach our children that gender distinction is very healthy.”

Unfortunately, what no-one seems to be paying any attention to, is what Shiloh herself wants. When he recently appeared on Oprah, Brad told the housewives' President that his daughter would only respond to boys' names. “We’ve got to call her John. 'Shi, do you want…' she would interrupt with 'John. I’m John.' I’ll say, ‘John, would you like some orange juice?’ And she goes, ‘No!’”

It's far too soon to know who, or what Shiloh will grow into. But it's good to know that she has parents who are happy to indulge her, as she explores the kind of child she wants to be. Not everyone's that lucky.

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