Don’t kiss up to social media trolls
The only disturbing thing about this snap is the vitriol it’s sparked, writes KATHRYN KNIGHT
EACH morning my ritual is the same: when I get my 3-year-old daughter Connie out of bed, I give her a big cuddle and a giant, smacking kiss on the lips. Sometimes two or three. It’s a scene that unfolds several times throughout the day. She’ll give me kisses back, too.
And, to me, it’s the most natural thing in the world, as it is to Victoria Beckham, with whom I found myself for once unusually aligned when she posted the picture showing her kissing her daughter Harper on the lips as they cuddled up in a swimming pool to mark her fifth birthday.
“Happy Birthday Baby Girl, we all love you so much,” she sweetly wrote underneath.
While not generally a fan of the usually rather frosty, buttoned-up Mrs B, what struck me most about this snap was how unaffected she seemed. Gone was the usual self-conscious fashion pout, replaced with a simple expression of maternal affection.
I assumed that the normal reaction would be: “Aaah!” But then, I hadn’t reckoned with the poisonous and judgmental world of social media, which was soon filled to bursting with people making it clear they saw this innocent photograph quite differently.
Far from being a simple happy snap, posted to mark a joyful occasion, many of them suggested it was “weird” and “odd”, because by kissing her in this way Victoria was “sexualising” her daughter.
“It is strange to kiss your parents on the lips,” said one, in one of the kinder comments.
“Urgh,” wrote someone else while, to give things a bizarre twist, another commentator claimed kissing your children on the lips gives them cold sores.
And inevitably the Mumsnetters – never ones to knowingly hold back from an online scrum – waded in with a dedicated thread on the parenting website in which users questioned Victoria’s decision.
“I think it is weird,” wrote one, adding for good measure, “do you sleep in the same bed as them as well?”
To which I can only say that, to me, the only weird thing here is this extraordinary overreaction. Since when did a gorgeous expression of mother-daughter affection become the subject of such vile judgment?
I like kissing Connie elsewhere too – on her tummy, on her chubby cheeks and sometimes on her lovely peachy bottom (God knows what the social media shamers
The only people
child gets to 4 or 5 or 6 and their sexual awareness develops, the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them.”
She suggested children “thrive” on being touched on their forehead, cheeks or hands.
To which I say: what utter nonsense. The only people sexualising our children are psychologists like Dr Reznick, overanalysing instinctive human gestures and emotions and dragging them into the gutter. As a good friend and lip-kisser of her 3-year-old boy said to me: “He just wants a nice mummy kiss on the lips. Am I going to tell him a psychologist says it’s not right?”
By contrast, her 5-year-old daughter prefers a peck on the cheek. And that’s the point – each to their own.
Ultimately, it’s not a right or wrong thing, it’s what feels right in your family. Some are what I would call very “huggy”, others aren’t. I’d put the Beckhams in the former camp: scroll through their family snaps and they are clearly a physically affectionate bunch, at ease with hugs and hand-holding.
That’s why Victoria’s picture doesn’t strike me as particularly stagey or posed. It seemed, instead, in keeping with her family’s general behaviour, just as my kisses with Connie – some on her lips, some not – are in ours.
No doubt Harper – and Connie – will call time on the lip-smackers at some point, just as I did. In the meantime, I will continue to shower my daughter with them, comforted by the fact that a layer of sanity remains: one Mumsnet user posted to say that she found what Victoria had done “totally normal”.
Hear hear. Nonetheless, I remain saddened that anyone would see anything more in lip-kisses between mother and child than simple, joyful affection. That they do says far more about them than it does about us. – Daily Mail
Victoria Beckham kisses her daughter Harper to wish her happy birthday.