North West Kardashian hasn't said she wants to be the face of a 'new generation'. She's five years old

We need to look at the ways in which 'A New Generation' are being forced to 'come of age' before they’re confidently able to go to the toilet on their own

Biba Kang
Saturday 23 February 2019 10:36
Comments
Kim Kardashian discusses prison reform on Jimmy Fallon

North West, the five-year-old daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, has appeared on the front cover of WWD’s Beauty Inc issue. She is pictured with straightened hair and makeup, alongside a caption that reads: “Move Over Millennials: North West Leads The Way As A New Generation Comes Of Age”.

This magazine cover is palpably messed up on a number of levels. For starters, the implication that five-year-olds are “of age” is deeply disturbing – and the comments made by the magazine suggest that this delusional messaging wasn’t just a slip of the sub-edit. WWD says: “We've watched North West grow on Instagram and Keeping Up with the Kardashians and magazines — here, she poses for her first solo cover. Her distinct fashion sense belies her age, and lately, so does her eye for makeup.”

Now, it’s normal for little kids to enjoy playing around and painting their faces. I asked for a gold lipstick for my fifth birthday, and went through a questionable “goth” phase at around eight. It’s hard to find a family photo from the early noughties where I don’t look like a clown, a panda or a mad Bowie tribute act.

But makeup should be a plaything for children, not a pressure. By plonking the five-year-old North West on a magazine cover, hailing her as a style icon, straightening her natural hair and proclaiming that she represents the next generation, they are syringing out all the fun and injecting a whole load of poison into her life.

We need to be protecting this next generation from the aesthetic demands of our “Instagram era” – not catapulting them into the limelight and excusing any inappropriateness on the basis that they’re stylish beyond their years. Now more than ever – in the age of air-brushing, face-fillers and filters – it’s important to remind children that female beauty standards are restrictive, sexist and based around ideals of whiteness. Okay, it may be tricky to explain this to a five-year-old, but you should at least give it a go.

Kim Kardashian coos, "My most stylish and beautiful baby girl North shot her 1st cover for @wwd !!!!” in the same way that most parents say, “Look at my little girl playing the fourth wise man in this (overcrowded) school nativity”. Her affection for her daughter is evident, but we should still be looking at how an image-conscious parent might foster the same tendencies in their kids.

This isn’t an attempt to mummy-shame Kimmy-K. We’re all capable of passing on our insecurities and psychological distortions to our children, and Kanye West has an equal responsibility to nurture the current and future mental health of his daughter.

But we do need to look at the ways in which “A New Generation” are being forced to “come of age” before they’re confidently able to go to the toilet on their own. These kids are being exposed to new pressures, new problems, and new incarnations of an ever-mutating patriarchy.

Maybe millennials shouldn’t “move over”, as WWD instructs us to do, but instead, step in. Step in to stop the normalisation of seriously skewed and sexist practices – like co-opting a five-year-old into becoming the pinnacle of aesthetic perfection.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Of course, North West may be having a whale of a time. Makeup, attention, acclaim – it all sounds like good fun. But I hate to think how all of this jollity might morph into crushing pressure during her teenage years. Disproportionate exposure as a child is rarely a recipe for a healthy and happy adolescence.

We each have a responsibility not to fuel the inappropriate interest in this famous five-year-old. We should leave North West alone, and allow her to do normal kid things, like raiding her mother’s makeup bag and “contouring” the walls.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in