Kids love to dress up as their favorite celebrities, but can it sometimes go too far? Xia Vigor, 7, made headlines last month after her Taylor Swift impersonation on the Philippines’s Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids went viral. Her Taylor Swift tribute garnered some criticism, though, including from Good Morning Britain host and social media agitator Piers Morgan, who called it “one of the creepiest things I’ve ever watched.”
This time, Vigor is back with an impression of another pop songstress — Ariana Grande. And her Face Sounds Familiar act has proven to be just as controversial as the last. So much so, that Xia’s mom, Christy, did a video call with Good Morning Britain in defense of her daughter’s performance. One of the anchors asked whether there were less provocative, less “adult” impersonations Xia could do, pointing to her recent Axl Rose performance as an example of this.
“She’s not really like that on an everyday basis. It’s a show and she has to put on makeup for the show and dress up like that because she has to copy someone else — an icon,” Christy said in response. “She has to act like that and act like they do.”
Christy also framed the backlash as coming from a place of cultural ignorance. “It’s an entertainment here,” added Christy. “We have a different culture from other countries, so I don’t expect people to understand what we’re doing, and I respect that and understand they won’t understand what we’re doing.”
Still, some people aren’t sold on the image of a 7-year-old girl gyrating onstage in hot pants, makeup, and cat ears as being something as simple as playing dress-up. Barbara Greenberg, a child, teen, adolescent, and family psychologist, says there is much more to it than that.
“It’s a lot more intense because the performance aspect does add a layer of questionability. Not only is she 7, and she’s dressing in such a sexualized way, but she’s performing in a sexualized way,” she tells Yahoo Style. “The mother bears a tremendous amount of responsibility. At 7, this girl is not even aware of how her sexuality impacts others. Girls at 16 and 17 aren’t even aware of it! I think it’s totally inappropriate, and it’s sending the kid the wrong message, that you get attention for being sexualized. It will not be lost on this child that she got a grand-scale level of attention by putting on seductive makeup, barely any clothes, and go-go boots. This will very likely follow her through a lot of life.”
Greenberg dismisses the idea that being in a different country makes it OK, adding, “You don’t get a pass because of cultural differences. Sexualizing little kids is sexualizing little kids in any culture.”
What do you think? Is Xia’s Ariana impersonation problematic, or is it just a kid having fun?