entertainment

What do YOU think when you look at this photo?

Sometimes, a celebrity picture doesn’t tell a thousand words. Sometimes, it tells just four: a moment in time. That doesn’t stop us from making up other words in our head though, does it? I do this shamefully often, particularly when it comes to pictures of famous people with their children.

My moral compass on this subject is a little shaky. I don’t think it’s right that celebrities are photographed when they’re off-duty with their kids, usually without their knowledge let alone their permission. I think it’s intrusive and unnecessary and I choose not to publish those kinds of pictures on Mamamia.

And yet? When I come across these photos elsewhere, I don’t always look away. In fact, I have been known to pore over photos of certain celebrity children. Particularly if their surname is Jolie-Pitt. Can’t get enough of those rainbow kiddies. They fascinate me and I’m not even sure I can articulate why.

It gets worse. Invariably, when I look at shots of famous people with their children, I draw conclusions, which are probably wildly inaccurate. This is also known as ‘being judgemental’.

I see photos of Victoria Beckham teetering along in 15cm heels and a skin-tight dress and I wonder if her three sons get frustrated with Mummy’s inability to walk let alone run around with them. I see photos of Katie Holmes taking Suri to a Beyonce concert and I think ‘Shouldn’t that little girl be in bed?’ I see certain celebrities with their hair and make-up fully done, captured in suspiciously photogenic moments with their immaculately dressed kids and I think ‘you totally set this up as a photo opportunity and that’s a bit yuck’. I see the Jolie-Pitts on yet another toy shopping spree in yet another country and think ‘Those kids seem to get new toys every week’. A few weeks ago, when I saw that baby twin Vivienne has her ears pierced, I thought, “Oh, I wouldn’t have picked the Jolie-Pitts as ear-piercers”. And no, I don’t even know what that MEANS.

Admittedly, many of my observations are benign. For example, I’ve noticed that Brad and Angelina always dress their kids in neutrals colours. They don’t go for logos or anything fancy, preferring simple unisex bits that are shared among siblings and passed across and down. I assume this is a practical decision as much as an aesthetic one. How on earth could you keep track of six separate small wardrobes?

A more pressing question might be: why do I waste brain cells on such inane thoughts?

I have a life. I have children of my own and I can’t even find them matching socks. This is because the part of my brain marked “kids clothes” is currently occupied with the knowledge that Pax and Zahara share their cargo pants.

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There has always been a public fascination with the children of celebrities. Those photos of the Kennedy kids are iconic. But it’s a phenomenon that has been turbo-charged lately by our cultural obsession with fame to the point where toddlers are now threatening to eclipse their famous parents. Just ask Suri Cruise.

Magazine blogger, Erica Bartle, wrote recently on her Girl With A Satchel website about her unease with the way Suri has begun to appear on the magazine covers with pages devoted to analysing her wardrobe and lifestyle.

“Perhaps I am overreacting, but this obsession with Suri makes me feel ill” she wrote about a recent issue of OK magazine featuring Suri as a covergirl. “It’s one thing for the glossies to obsess over an adult Nicole Richie (daughter of 80s pop star Lionel),” she wrote “but quite another to covet the life and wardrobe of a three-year-old… and put one on the cover of a women’s magazine.” Suri Cruise sells magazines and we know this because she’s on more covers than either of her parents. Fortunately for editors, there are endless shots available because Suri appears in public often.

There are two ways to look at this. One is that she is being ‘used’ by her parents, paraded around the streets to attract publicity and further their own careers. The other is that they’re simply getting on with their lives. Doing stuff. Going shopping and to the zoo. Accepting that they will be followed by photographers and venturing into the world anyway, refusing to stay home and hide. Much wrong with that? Similarly, I look at women like Naomi Watts and Jennifer Garner who always appear so completely casual and normal when they’re with their children and I mentally give them a gold star.

Which begs another question. Who am I to be handing out gold stars or black marks to people I’ve never met and know nothing about? Logically, I know only one thing with complete certainty: you cannot make any reasonable judgements from celebrity photos. You can’t tell anything about someone’s relationship or their mental or emotional state or what kind of person or parent they are by looking at their picture. Even if they’re wobbling around on very high heels in a toy shop. Do you find yourself drawing conclusions when you look at celebrity photos? Why do you think we’ve become obsessed with Suri and all the other celebrity kids?