Dear and darling readers, nothing makes me happier (no, seriously) than when you all email me offensively asinine things you find on the internet with a plethora of question marks and explanation points and WTFs and ask for my so obviously extremely qualified opinions! For the most part I do my best to carry on snark-filled emailconversations with each one of you special snowflakes and then occasionally write about it, but some things are just too painfully stupid/offensive for me to even acknowledge (for example, I am refusing to even have any more conversations about the Acne “transvestite/transgender/transexual/insert other incorrect term they used in their press release” shirts or about “ethnic beauty is the new black OH WAIT” or anything involving feathers or Lara Stone’s tits ever again basically.) Other things are so epicly stupid and offensive that after an entire year of eyerolling I am sort of required to address it lest my eyes roll permanently back into my head. HENCE THE ISSUE OF SHILOH JOLIE-PITT AND SURI CRUISE FINALLY SURFACES.
More of you have emailed me these stories than I can even remember at this point, most of which make me want to slam my head into a wall for any number of reasons, from “god this is so painfully obvious I dont’ even want to talk about it ” to “it is really creepy to write about small children,” all of which is basically summed up with an appropriately dismissive “srsly?” Over the past year, however, We The Media have been extremely conerned with Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, moving from general discomfort over the kid’s appearance to genuine distress and alarm that her mother is forcing her to be a tomboy (via teh gay agenda/psychological issues) and/or wants her to be a boy or something else of GREAT PUBLIC CONCERN.
Suri Cruise, on the other hand, is like America’s Little Scientologist Pretty Princess and gets dressed up in little kid heels and expensive girly frippery which has for totally serious spawned blogs dedicated to her clothes, which also freaks us out, because we do not like little girls in heels and also isn’t all this concern with her clothing and some $6,000 diamond encrusted princess halloween costume a bit much, Katie and Tom? (I still maintain that one of the best “would you rather”s ever is “Would you rather be Tom Cruise’s child or bear Tom Crusie’s child,” plz discuss.)
ANYHOO. Considering their parents are basically the Most Famous People Ever they do often show up in the same articles and posts, though it’s usually about the differences between them/their parents, and it usually involves some sort of omg toddler style showdown!!1! and/or picking sides, such as unleashing commenters with opinions like “Suri is the cute one who is doing it right and Shiloh is just trying to be her brother and has issues and I Am Very Concerned” or “Shiloh is way badass and adorable and Suri looks like a stupid broad and her parents are training her to be vain and slutty” except less articulate since, you know, comments. Either way. Important things. SERIOUS BUSINESS.
The thing that strikes me about this so much, which weirdly I have not seem that much written about before (plz inform me otherwise!) — isn’t one or the other, but rather the almost eerily perfect juxtaposition of two American celebrity toddler girls of the same age being scrutinized for essentially the exact same thing from different ends of the spectrum: Suri’s dressed like a little tramp slut hoebag prostitot, and Shiloh’s going to grow up to be a fucking dyke or worse, what with her bisexual mother and all!!!1!1! One exhibits too many of the decorations of sexualized adult femininity (though last time I checked, making women look like seven year olds was also a way of sexualizing them), and the others’ apparent disinterest in those decorations is cause for widespread distress. You guys! Sartorial gender police of glitterati toddlers! Omigod!
The concern on both ends ultimately, of course, loops back to and is related to our love of criticism of their celebrity parents — Tom! Katie! Brad! Angelina! YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! You’re teaching your little girls to be little girls the WRONG way by dressing them wrong! Suri is too much of a girl, Shiloh not enough. They’re goddamn three year olds and yet we apparently have unlimited rights to discuss their clothes and what they mean, which in this case is arguably almost entirely about gender. It’s more obvious in Shiloh’s case - nonconformity TOTALLY FREAKS US OUT, and I feel like enough has been written about this and the public’s reaction to it that there’s no need for me to beat the dead horse anymore. What I’m still thinking about though is the fact that one could also argue that the reason toddlers wearing things like high heels disturbs us so much is that it calls attention to the performative nature of “feminine” clothing and adult female sexuality — precisely because it underlines the fact that it’s the accessories, object, or costuming that is sexualized rather than the actual woman (or in this case, decidedly unsexy-unless-you-have-issues toddler) wearing them. Who really wants to have attention called to the fact that their babydoll lingerie is, uh, sorta weird, and either more or less important/meaningful than we thought before, depending on how you look at it?
Suri’s high heels creep us out/are fodder for public concern and commentary because on some level it’s similar to Shiloh’s toddler ties — sexualizing articles of “adult” gender-specific clothing on little girls, who are generally expected to be sugar and spice and everything nice in a very specific, defined way which isn’t TOO feminine but better not be boyish or else. We love little girls, and we love talking about what they should and shouldn’t do and how they should or shouldn’t dress, speak, behave, move, whatever. (Does she play softball? Might be a PREHOMOSEXUAL O NOEZ. Does she try to look, dress, or dance like a sexy feminine older woman? Does she wear heels and makeup like mommy? NOT OKAY EITHER. PS read that last link it’s very smart, good god I miss The Sexist.)
And unfortunately this criticism and sartorial policing of bodies that we expect to be female doesn’t end at adulthood; if anything, it gets worse. (Here is where I have 93893 links I could post but I don’t because a.) there are too many of them and b.) they all make me want to puke.) We simultaneously define and constrict female sexuality as expressed (defined, created, presented) through clothing; anything pushing too hard into aggressively, exaggeratedly feminine and sexualized is “slutty” and inappropriate and belies things like the fact that the woman wearing it is A Big Slut and Also Probably Stupid and also Deserves Whatever Diseases Her Infectious Cooter Is Harboring and also maybe even Deserves To Be Raped or at least is Kind Of Asking For It; anything on the other end makes us uncomfortable as well because She Shouldn’t Be Hiding How Pretty She Really Could Be If She Just Tried and also she is probably A Big Dyke and also she Has Low Self Esteem Or Issues Or Something and that is Unnatural, Because Makeup And Heels Are Totally Natural For Women. We have impeccably specific concepts about how a woman ought to dress and look; anything that violates this is massively upsetting and reason for public commentary, even if the “women” offending are three year olds. Though we’ve come a long way from corsets and petticoats, women are still constrained (physically, socially), defined, and marked by their clothing — and the level of concern over celebrity toddlers’ clothing only goes to show just how pervasive these ideas still remain.