Grace Van Custem: no Shirley Temple

Grace Van Custem and Shirley Temple

Yes, I did have a bit of a titter and a few wry words about Grace Van Custem, the bridesmaid at the Royal Wedding who didn’t seem that impressed with anything. No wonder they say never work with animals or children. An unpredictable lot at best, but a recognised occupational hazard.

In point of fact, I remember the lead-up to my own daughter’s big 7th birthday. I say lead-up. She talked of nothing else for a whole year. Then, come the big day, and after a whole lot of drama, she ended up crying her eyes out for most of the time in her room. Which didn’t faze her guests much since they were happy to snort their way through 100lbs of Jello and a 20-tier birthday cake without her.

The point being she didn’t take the best photos that day, but I would have been mortified if the press or social media then proceeded to call her unkind names.

It is not far fetched to suppose that this could well start a cycle of a young person internalising those labels and, consequently, feeling inadequate from there on in. Being adults, the child might also see her detractors as authoritative sources on the question of her looks, her dress, or her whatever.

The original title of this post was to be “Ugly Is As Ugly Does” since I found a picture of Shirley Temple in much the same pose as little Grace. Quite frankly I don’t find it a good look on either of them. However, I hazard a guess that one would not use some of the names being bandied about this week on Miss Temple. (Note for young readers: for Shirley Temple read Lindsay Lohan when she was cute and innocent. Yes, you might have to dig up in the archives for proof.)

Children have so many pressures to deal with these days before they even hit puberty. We already see the trend of very young children decrying their weight and looks, fuelled by an insatiable diet of celebrity magazines and a beauty obsessed media.

But what is this little girl to make of such direct and unkind comments? What are other little girls who look like her to make of such comments? Children cannot process these thoughts with an adult’s experience because…they are children.

The media may be a free for all and easy target for adults who choose to push themselves there (another debate for another day) but children are children and should not be used as child bait in adult games.

Feeling good about ourselves starts from birth and, if it takes a village to raise a child, it should take all of us to raise their self-esteem (no matter who they are).

HMS HerMelness Speaks