Whether you would like to admit it or not, as a kid, everyone wanted to be famous. Whether it was the popularity you sought after, or hanging out with celebrities, every child wants to be famous.
With social media at its peak, these dreams are becoming a scary reality, with kid influencers being extremely popular. These kids make big money through the exploitation of their life by their parents. These parents use their kids as brands, trying to squeeze as much profit out as they can. This isn’t a new thing either. Parents often try to live life through their children’s accomplishments, it is only now that through the lenses of social media, we get a clearer view. Here are some of those kids.
Imagine being 6 years old and having over 190,000 followers on Instagram. Well that’s just the life of young influencer Taylen Biggs. Taylen’s Instagram is run by her mother, Angelica Calad. Angelica has ran the Instagram page for majority of Taylen’s life. At age two, Taylen already had had over 100,000 followers.
“Taylen has become a brand,” said Angelica Calad in 2015.
Despite the constant branding of her daughter’s life, Angelica is happy with what she is doing. Angelica’s family is earning revenue through her daughter’s sponserships and shoots she had done. Along with this, the family have met famous models such as Gigi Hadid.
View this post on Instagram
Caught up with @gigihadid #itsjeremyscott @itsjeremyscott #NYFW . . Taylen wearing @alexandalexacom #moschino . . . . #gigihadid #gigihadidstyle #hadidsisters #bazaarkids #cosmopolitan #forcesoffashion #ellendegeneres #fashionkilla #hypebae #hypekids #bellahadid #kidsgram_tokyo #kids_circle #frontrow #dailyfrontrow #vogue_kids1 #voguekorea #voguebrasil #taylenbiggs #bazaarkids #creamPR
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, who runs my daughter’s career”, Angelica told Cosmopolitan.
Katie Bower and her Children.
Look, being an Instagram famous family does sound like a cute idea. Funny stories and cute things that you can share to the rest of the world. Its all fun and games until you blame the Instagram algorithm for your son not getting as many likes as his sisters. In November 2018, Katie Bower posted a photo of her with her son. In this post, Bower talked about her son not getting the Instagram love she thinks he deserves.
“Instagram never liked my Munchkin and it killed me inside. His photos never got as many likes. Never got comments. From a statistical point of view, he wasn’t as popular with everyone out there…I say all that because I want to believe that it wasn’t him — that it was on me…because I truly KNOW that my Munch deserves alllllll the likes…whether or not a stranger gives it to them.”
Bower was met with major criticism about her post, with the comment section flooded with claims that she was treating her son as a product. TV personality took to twitter to criticize her.
Here we have the #1 reason why your kids should never be your personal brand. https://t.co/maatLI4XFf
— Keri Lumm (@TheKeriLumm) November 19, 2018
Bower deleted her post.
Honey Boo Boo
Lets wind the clock back to this strange time in everyone’s lives. 2012 was a weird time, a time where we all thought the world was going to end. I think this was personified with the release of the first season of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo followed the story of a six year old beauty pageant contestant, Alana and her family’s adventures. Honey Boo Boo first appeared in the show Toddlers and Tiaras and became a fan favourite. The show ran for four seasons and was shrouded with controversy.
The publicity of the show saw Honey Boo Boo transcend into a pop-culture phenomenon. This lead to sponsorships and pay outs after each episode. Along with this, there was a spin-off show following the cancellation of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Mamma June, from Not to Hot, showcased the weight loss and transformation of Boo Boo’s mother, June. This lead to a massive downward spiral for the family. The final episode of saw June storm out on the family during an intervention for her drug taking. With rotten teeth and a slurred speech, Mama June collapsed on the streets.
This family was torn apart, after the exploitation of the child. Boo Boo now 13, lives with her 19 year old sister Lauren after feeling afraid to live with her mother. After once having a net-worth of close to $1M, this family has been torn to shreds.
At what point do we argue that these attitudes and ideas are extremely problematic. Childhood remains an integral part of someone’s life, and shapes them into the adults that they will grow up to be. Child stars have often struggled to maintain relevance, years on from the fame that came their way. This spiral has led to problematic issues in the future.
One of the most famous child stars in history, Macaulay Culkin was famously known for his roles in Home Alone. Following a lot of success, Culkin took a seven year break from films. In a plethora of interviews, Culkin has talked about the issues that arose from his life as a child star. Along with his issues, in 2005, he pleaded guilty to drug charges. Culkin was in possession of Marijuana without prescription, and was fined $500.
Another child star who struggled to come to come terms with their fame was Justin Bieber. After breaking out into the mainstream in 2010 with his hit song, Baby, Bieber was everywhere. Even with the millions he had in the bank, Bieber struggled with depression, along with substance abuse.
“It’s taken me years to bounce back from all of these terrible decisions, fix broken relationships, and change relationship habits,” Bieber stated on Instagram.
Brand or Child?
The problem with parents monitoring their children’s social media image, the child loses humanity. Each major social media and pop-culture star are now viewed with a commodity. These parents sell off their children’s image in order to create a brand. Angelica Calad has often stated that her daughter is a brand and it’s something that she wears with pride.
Although the branding is extremely negative, these brands have a major following for a particular reason. Followers are invested in this person’s life, and are wanting to watch it unfold. These children however, are forced to live strange lives, and the second the fame and money goes away, the problems arise. Here a brighter future for these child stars.
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