Jayne Dawson: Victoria, please don’t make your little girl a living doll

Victoria Beckham holds her daughter Harper, alongside celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his daughter Holly, at a soccer match in America last October.
Victoria Beckham holds her daughter Harper, alongside celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his daughter Holly, at a soccer match in America last October.
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She has a handbag named after her, she has been offered a modelling contract and she sits on the front row of fashions shows.

And yes, you guessed it, she’s Harper Beckham and she is fully two-years-old.

Most recently she was the focus of all attention at her mother Victoria’s spring/summer show for next year, the fashion pack working far in advance of we mortal shoppers.

Harper was wearing a pastel, pleated dress by the designer Chloe which sells for £200.

I know the details because they were reported, quite seriously, by all media outlets, with details of where to buy it and how to find a similar, cheaper version on the high street.

Harper had styled her genuine article very simply and sweetly, wearing her hair in a cute top knot and teaming everything with a pair of tan moccasins.

I know she hadn’t really put the outfit together herself, but it was being described in such po-faced terms that it was almost as if the media world believed that her toddler mind and her toddler fingers had worked together, assembling the constituent parts into a definite “look”.

It was all accessorised with a simple but effective necklace, which appeared to be a diamond on a delicate gold chain which sat perfectly around her chubby little neck. No-one seemed to focus on this, but to me it was the most stunning element of the outfit.

By which I mean shocking, not beautiful.

I don’t like to see girl children in “proper” jewellery. A big row of cheap beads, a bangle, some silly earrings borrowed from mum are all okay.

As a child I myself liked nothing better than to walk up and down my street dressed in something swishy and two feet too long, matched with a pair of plastic, clip-on earrings. My daughter, all those years ago, often enjoyed her morning Weetabix in a ballet skirt, wellies, her brother’s Roman helmet and an attractive plastic chain or two. She’ll be fine with me telling you that.

But that’s play, it’s not serious. You can debate whether it’s good for children to play in such a gender specific way if you like – girls with their dolls and boys with their guns – but in my experience, once they hit school, they do it whether you like it or not.

But when girl toddlers are dressed in expensive earrings, bangles and necklaces in real precious metals, teamed with real designer clothes, I find it disturbing.

I’m not suggesting Harper has anything other than an idyllic childhood at home, romping around in her scruffs, covered in bits of her dinner and her last painting session.

But her public displays are important because they have huge influence. To see the girl child of one of the most famous couples on the planet dressed like a little fashion doll, is to set the trend for so many other unfortunate little girls.

Childhood is that precious part of life where it’s all about looking outwards, not inwards. That small window where we are not self conscious, not aware of whether we are fat or thin. It’s the one time where we focus on what our bodies can do and not how others judge them. It is a short time, and getting shorter.

To have a two-year-old judged on her appearance is taking it to a new level, but she’s not even the first – Suri Cruise was a walking fashion plate when she could barely walk.

Clearly it’s tempting for Victoria Beckham, who is all about image and style and money, to always have something lovely on her arm, but that’s the function of a handbag, not a daughter.

She should think about the message she is sending out. It isn’t all that pretty.

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