Parents Instagramming pics of their little kids sledding or flashing gap-toothed smiles is one thing — but posting beauty-themed pics of them in pouty, sassy poses? That’s quite another, at least according to the avalanche of critics who have been voicing their objections this week.
“If my mother posted pictures of me in my underwear I would be mortified,” noted one of the 600-plus commenters on Kris Jenner’s Instagram page, where she posted a pic of model daughter Kendall posing in a black bra for a new Calvin Klein ad. Kris added the hashtag #proudmama just in case there was any confusion about how she felt about her daughter’s sexy look.
And while the overwhelming majority of commenters were supportive — particularly given that Kendall is 20 years old — the claws came out over pics of younger girls, including Jessica Simpson’s daughter, 3 (pictured above), as well as the 8-year-old daughter of British former model Katie Price (below).
In Simpson’s image, posted to Instagram on Monday, the pop star’s young mini-me, Maxwell, strikes a sassy pose — pouting while placing a hand on her jutted-out hip (similar to this one, from May, which also drew ire). She also clutches a milkshake, which apparently prompted Mom to add a quote from Kelis’s 2003 metaphorical sex single: “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like it’s better than yours…”
The racy photo Kris Jenner shared of her daughter Kendall. (Photo: Instagram)
That’s what put some critics over the edge. “It’s not the pose. It is the use of that Kelis quote from a song about sex that people are objecting to,” noted one commenter. But others were altogether freaked. “Let her be 3 without having to do the pouty faces and sexy poses like mom … almost every photo of her on here is the same thing … let her be a child … she’s cute as a child!” railed one, while another scolded, “You got to be a shame [sic] of yourself having your daughter posing like that, not cute at all.”
Price’s pic of young Princess decked out for a traditional British Christmas performance — featuring a lipstick-heavy pout, vacant stare, and long, tousled locks — was the subject of a panel discussion on Loose Women, a British show like The View, on which hosts pointed out to fellow panelist Price what a slew of critics were saying. “To me it’s innocent, but so many people had a go about pedophiles … and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, you’re right.’ I didn’t think about it that way,” she replied.
So what would prompt a mom to do this to her own daughter? According to Pamela Rutledge, director of the California-based Media Psychology Research Center, “People often seek ‘immortality’ through their children,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “Of these examples, all have made their living out of being attractive — if not downright sexy — in the public eye. As a psychologist, I would argue that this is not a healthy example to set for their own kids or others,” she adds. “It also exposes their daughters to undue attention. In the case of Jenner, the daughter is already making her career out of a celebrity status, but I would advise the other mothers to hold off — resist the temptation to prove that their beauty is transferable.”
Katie Price’s daughter Princess, 8. (Photo: Instagram)
Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and author of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, adds that the photos illustrate the objectification of girls — by their parents — in response to that having been their parents’ own experienced norm. “The mothers have been objectified, and it’s been a major part of who they’ve become, so this is like the second generation,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “This [type of image] is what has become more and more valued in society, so they see that value” and offer up their kids’ photos in response, effectively showing other kids that this is something to strive for. Little girls may understand what a cute and sexy pose is, she adds, before they understand what “sexy” even means. That’s normal, Levin says, though putting that image out into the world is perhaps where the line gets crossed.
But some Simpson defenders don’t blame her for putting the admittedly cute image online, where many fans approve. “When I was little I would strike a pose for the camera,” one Instagram commenter noted. “My mom did NOT teach me that. It somehow just happened. Little girls do things like that. Everyone chill, she was just being clever with the caption. She’s adorable and she’s just striking a pose for mom!”