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Children like Taimur didn’t choose to be celebrities. Unrelenting media attention harms them and steals away those moments of their childhood that should be free and unobserved.
Imagine your toddler child/grandchild/niece/nephew. How cute and innocent they look playing in the park! Now imagine that there are strange men (or women) just a few feet away from your adored little one, who are taking pictures of your little loved one. They call out to the child by name repeatedly. You find this to be a little too much intrusive, so you pick the toddler up and try to move away. But the flashing cameras and insistent voices just keep on following you. Imagine now, that these pictures of this child you so deeply love are splashed over the newspapers and internet the next day, for the whole world to comment on –and not all comments are nice. Imagine having to explain to the child, when they are a bit more grown up, why their entire childhood is public information; why they had no privacy.
This scenario is objectively creepy. But this is exactly what Taimur and other “celebrity” children live with every day.
I usually do not pay attention to celebrity news, unless a celebrity has said or done something worthwhile about a social issue. So when I went looking for information to write this article, I was shocked by what I found. From what toy he likes to play with, to what clothes he is wearing, everything about Taimur is captured and overanalyzed. There were even some pieces about how he was running towards the media or how he was smiling at them, as if that justified the media frenzy. I usually link to articles, but I am choosing consciously not to do so here. The information is out there, but I refuse to contribute to spreading it.
This is cute now, but what about when he gets a little bigger? Won’t his behaviour and choices be judged? Won’t he be called an attention-seeking, spoilt brat by the very people who are giving him too much attention now?
The argument that he is a celebrity kid and therefore he should get used to the attention simply does not work here. He did not choose to be born to celebrity parents. His parents, as public figures, may have to forgo some privacy in public, but he should not have to. He is a child. He doesn’t know what the media is. He doesn’t understand what is being done to him. But the paparazzi are adults. They should know better?
The problem is universal. In the US, stars have urged the passing of paparazzi laws to protect their children. Actors Kirsten Bell and Dax Shepard are among those who have sought the right for their children to not be photographed without protection.
This humorous but sensitive article by Dax, details why his children need privacy, and refutes common arguments. He points out that for the paparazzi, it is purely a financial concern. They click the pictures, because they help to sell magazines/papers or raise TRPs. There is no love or care for the child involved in a financial transaction.
“The consumer is the only one who can put an end to this. They are the only ones with real power,” he writes.
It is as simple as that. We have the power to stop this. If we stop consuming; if we can rein in our curiosity about that child’s life, he can have a childhood where he can run and play like other children. Where he won’t have to learn too early how to “manage” publicity. Where he is free to have secrets, throw tantrums and make mistakes – because that is what children should be free to do!
A lot of Taimur’s fans say that they want to see his pictures and know more about him, because they love him. But real, true love is one that sets you free and lets you be. So to all those who claim to love Taimur, let the child be. Show your care for him by letting him grow up like a normal child.
Thankfully, most children do not have to deal with having their lives splashed out in public. With the advent of social media though, even that is changing. Children are discovering how they are being talked about on social media by their parents/school without their consent.
The best and most conscientious mommy bloggers I know take permission from their children. They co-write their posts with them, and choose what pictures or information can be shared. That is healthy, because it acknowledges the personhood and agency of the child. Sharing personal details about your children or posting photos of them without consent is, honestly, a slippery slope.
Our generation has been very lucky. We had a childhood that was free and unblemished. It lives on in memories that are cherished, and in private hard copy photographs. Don’t our children deserve the same?
Image source: YouTube
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
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