Bye Bye Baby

With ‘Toys R Us’ releasing a ouija board aimed at 8 to 14 year-olds this month, TABATHA LEGGETT says it’s time to reclaim the right to a childhood.

childhood Miley Cyrus Noah Cyrus ouija board PVC Suri Cruise Toys R Us

Suri Cruise has more clothes than me. She’s been papped wearing outfits by Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli and Burberry. Her wardrobe is rumoured to be worth over £2million. Suri Cruise is the luckiest girl alive.

Or is she? Is it really normal for a three year-old to wear high-heels and lipstick? Seeing pictures of baby Cruise (beloved daughter of Tom and Katie, or TomKat, as they are more affectionately known) wading through puddles in peep-toe kitten heels and running through the New York snow without a jacket on just makes me feel quite sad. Three year-olds should be drawing terrible pictures of houses; not tottering around snowy NYC in summer leopard-print pumps.

Unfortunately, Suri is just a product of the times, because these days, childhood barely exists. We only need to look at the likes of Miley Cyrus, who found fame at the tender age of eleven, to conclude that childhood years are becoming a luxury. At the age of just fifteen, ‘Vanity Fair’ released topless photographs of Miley. At just sixteen, she faced criticism for dancing provocatively with a pole on her world tour. Clearly, this girl bypassed childhood big time, leaping straight into the world of the adult.

And, if you think Miley Cyrus is bad, you should take a look at her younger sister. Noah is nine years-old, and is currently working alongside her best friend, who is also nine, in preparation for the launch of a clothing line that includes fishnet stockings and short, fluffy skirts. This project undoubtedly seems a little perverse. In October, Noah caused a fuss by attending a Halloween party dressed in a black, lace-up mini dress and knee-high PVC boots. She completed her look with a full-face of make-up and bright red lipstick. Classy.

Unfortunately, however, it’s not just celebrities who are falling victim to this bizarre adult/child mix-up. ‘Toys R Us’ are now selling a pink Ouija board for 8-14 year-old children. The advertising copy claims: “Pink Ouija board predicts the future. Who will you call next? Will you be famous? Who wants to trade places with you? All these questions and more can be answered with the mystifying Ouija Board.”

This is just creepy. The idea of children trying to communicate with the spirit world to find out whether or not they will become famous is downright disturbing. I have problems with a company who assumes that all children want to be famous, let alone one which assumes that they should contact the ghost of their grandmother to verify their future life’s trajectory, all for the small fee of £15.

But why is it that girls are growing up so fast? Studies have shown that sexual images that are found in adverts and teenage magazines contribute towards this problem. Of course an eleven year old who watches Miley Cyrus on television and listens to her ‘music’ is going to want to be like her: her life looks fun! But problems really arise when Miley Cyrus releases topless images of herself, or pole dances, or stumbles out of a club underage. It seems that the role models of young people are themselves too young to realise the repercussions of their actions. And, as such, girls are moving from toys to boys faster than ever before.

So, what’s next? Unfortunately, I think I know the answer: child beauty pageants. In America, they became popular in the ‘60s, and involved children older than six months competing to win beauty pageant tiaras. Nowadays 250,000 children take part in these pageants every year, and I have no doubt that the industry will succeed in the UK too. But, the result of taking fresh-faced children and transforming them into living Barbie dolls is quite frankly disturbing. Shaving the legs of seven year olds for a more even appearance, fake-tanning toddlers, fitting preschoolers with hair extensions and false eyelashes and giving children who are missing baby teeth a fake set of pearly rights is simply farcical. Statistics show that 50% of the 8-10 year olds who compete in these pageants are on strict diets, and 50% of the 9-15 year olds are following strict exercise regimes. Something is not quite right.

When I was a child, I used to play with Barbie dolls, wear stick-on earrings and play kiss-chase with boys. And nobody thought I was growing up too fast. Nowadays, little girls dress like Barbie dolls, wear proper jewellery and start having sex at just the age of eleven. I don’t think this is a natural progression. Ouija boards for children, nine-year olds designing fishnet stockings, beauty pageant queens being just months old: it’s all just too much, too young.

I don’t think Suri Cruise is the luckiest girl in the world. In fact, I feel sorry for her.