Am I the only person who is uncomfortable with YouTube sensation Sophia Grace’s soaring rise to fame? After captivating the world with her rendition of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’ and countless other appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Sophia Grace is being offered music and movie deals, with the upcoming Little Red Riding Hood adaptation being the latest.
On one hand, she is hilarious and witty and it’s hard not to be entertained by the 10-year-old Brit. She is a promising singer and entertainer, but I feel there is something amiss with her catapulting to fame.
Looking at former child celebrities of late, it’s not hard to see the road ahead and I hope it is one she can avoid. She has been uprooted from her normal childhood after a cute video of her and her cousin went viral. She has been showered with attention and adoration from celebrities at countless award ceremonies, she has legions of fans and she receives countless gifts from Ellen following every appearance. Is there anything wrong with this? Technically no, but what will happen in a year or two? What will happen when she is no longer the cute and pudgy little girl who has audiences cackling just by being herself?
As a celebrity-mad culture, we are fickle – you can only capture our interest for so long. Things get old at an alarming rate and as they say eventually no one gives a s**t. So what will happen to her when that moment does come (and don’t say it won’t)? Will it be easy to adapt to life back in Essex as a regular girl or will she stay on the uncertain road to longevity in Hollywood? What will happen when she is too old for tutus and tea parties? How can you explain to a child or teenager that they are no longer relevant, and how can you stop a tabloid monster in the making?
Call me cynical or a prude, but look at Amanda Bynes, Macaulay Culkin or Lindsay Lohan. Sadly, the list of Lindsays is longer than the list of former child stars who managed to sustain an entertainment career as adults, a la Natalie Portman.
Back in 2011, French child model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau appeared on the cover of French Vogue, provocatively gazing at the camera in high-heels, colored lips and a $4.3 million dollar necklace. To say that the photographs are disturbing is an understatement. It’s impossible not to ask if this child being exploited. Is she being forced to grow up and assume a sexualised role in the grown up world? Is it an innocent game of dress up? Is it healthy for other young girls to look up to her?
The fashion industry, being such a cut throat habitat for adult models, is no place for a 10-year-old child, no matter how à la mode. What is this girl learning about life and beauty in an environment where she can be replaced with another girl who may be taller and thinner or more willing to take her clothes off? What will happen when this girl’s body changes during puberty? Will she endeavor to retain her prepubescent body, which has been her money-maker? Will she starve herself to hold on to her waif stature?
As a child model, she is emulating womanhood, but will she be desirable when she reaches her 20s and is an adult? Most likely yes, considering her beauty. However, I wonder about her mental health by that stage. Will the years in the spotlight and her parents’ nonchalant outlook turn her into an entitled narcissist or a withdrawn, insecure creature seeking approval?
Both girls need to ride bicycles, play in mud, read, daydream about being a doctor and feed their Baby-Born doll. Such a worry free age of innocence will never return. A 10-year-old needn’t be plagued with insecurities about her appearance and be judged by the world. Both girls need to belong to themselves before they belong to the hungry media realm.
Image via fashionista.com and hypable.com