Celebrity Offspring: Is It Peak Over-Exposure?

A few weeks ago, US Vogue unveiled an entire issue devoted to Kendall Jenner. Not Naomi Campbell, or Kate Moss, or Amber Valetta: no, Jenner, whose entire career as a model has spanned a brief two years.That’s 52 pages, all about Kendall. As Vanity Fair pointed out, “technically this is not a regular-issue cover” (it’s a larger-than-average pamphlet which comes alongside the April issue, fronted by Rihanna, for the LA and NYC readers) but it’s still US Vogue. It’s still 52 pages devoted to Kendall — something other young models-on-the-rise like Ondria Hardin or Binx Walton might dream about.

In the same week: David Beckham defended Brooklyn Beckham after the 17-year-old amateur photographer was hired to shoot the Burberry campaign; Jaden Smith appeared on the cover of GQ Style (just a few weeks after his 16-year-old sister Willow was announced as a new Chanel muse, to accompany 17-year-old Lily Rose Depp who currently appears on the cover of LOVE); and Sofia Ritchie (younger sister of original realiTV wild child Nicole Richie) on the cover of ES Magazine. All four of them, incidentally, are under 18.

Wha?

Has the world gone mad?

I’ll give you one answer: social media.

Kendall (albeit a little older but still, in the grand scheme of things, an only relatively established model) may have 52 pages in US Vogue, but she’s got 53.3 million followers on Instagram. Convert that into cash, why don’t you. (Can’t. Except to estimate that each sponsored post equates to $1 million in cash money.) Jaden Smith – who goes under the mildly creepy Insta moniker @christiangrey – has 2.9 million followers on his cool and arty account. Sofia Ritchie has a little shy of 900,000. Lily-Rose Depp has 1.5 million Instagram followers. Is it weird that they are not yet 18, and fronting magazine covers? That’s a topic the media has yet to conclude upon (although Style does not feature anyone under the age of 18 on the cover) though I’d warrant that it’s less about the what magazines want and more about their duty to align with the shifts in popular culture.

They are all undeniably attractive, charismatic offspring, but Barbara Ellen put it best in The Observer when she said (vis a vis Brooklyn, but can well apply to others, too): “this is beyond nepotism, into a whole new sphere of cringe.”

I work in an industry where 16-year-old Anais Gallagher sits front row at fashion shows, purely by dint of being Meg Matthews and Noel Gallagher’s daughter. Before the Mulberry show, I watched as a limousine pulled up to the entrance, whilst everyone was queuing. Who could be inside? I ruminated with my editor. Out hopped a gleeful teenage girl. In a sort of sideways swipe at nepotism, so does Lottie Moss (lovely girl, I am sure, but is she sitting front row at Topshop because she is Kate Moss’s sister, or is she sitting front row at Topshop because she is Kate Moss’s sister?) Cindy Crawford’s 14-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber, is such a presence on the scene that you can find slideshows of ‘Kaia Gerber’s hottest looks’ on the internet and stories about how she changed her hair colour.

SHE’S 14. WHY IS NO-ONE FREAKED OUT BY THIS?

I interviewed the child actress turned Hollywood A-Lister Jennifer Connelly for Sunday’s issue of Style and in her ineffably cool collected way, she remarked upon our obsession with the ingenue. “Youth is very much celebrated and for good reason. It is a wonderful, powerful thing. But so is experience and accomplishment.” Why should having famous parents render this otherwise?

I love youth culture. As a journalist, I have written about emerging talent on many occasions. I love to see how the generation below me grows up and communicates, because it is so vastly different to mine. But I find popular culture’s predilection for celebrity offspring renewed by their Instagrammability to an almost mind-numbing extent. Is there no power like social media power? In short: no.

I’m ready for the tide to turn. Or at least, place value on something beyond genes. Aren’t you?

Artwork by Natalia Bagniewska

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