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Stop shaming parental affection

Why does an innocent kiss between a father and daughter have to mean anything sinister, asks Georgina Littlejohn

I always like to start the day with tea and toast and a nose around the celebrity gossip sites in an attempt to escape the doom and gloom elsewhere in the news…

Who’s wearing what, who’s shagging or rowing with who, who’s causing a social media stir – it’s a superficial yet welcome respite from Covid-19, Brexit, Trump and all the other messes of the world.

But even the world of showbiz isn’t without its anger and division, and this morning proved to be no exception.

Riding high at the top of most celebrity websites was the story about David Beckham being criticised yet again for giving his daughter a quick peck on her lips.

The former footballer, 45, and nine-year-old Harper were snapped foraging for fruit and vegetables at the Daylesford Organic Farm near their Gloucestershire home on Tuesday afternoon.

As they spent some quality time together, a photo was shared on social media of the two showing each other some affection with a kiss on the lips.

And who was it that took this picture? The paparazzi? A ‘concerned’ onlooker?

No. It was Victoria Beckham, his wife and Harper’s mother, who proudly shared the image to her Instagram page with the caption: “The best daddy.”

There was also a second shot of David giving Harper a hug, the pair of them beaming for the camera – but in true social media style, that one was ignored.

Because all anyone wanted to jump up and down about was an innocent kiss on the lips between a father and daughter.

Why David Beckham kissing his daughter on the lips should cause a stir is beyond me, especially as they are barely touching.

Not only that, but we’ve all had that one relative – usually a grandmother or great aunt – who would give us a quick peck on the lips as a child

Heck, I used to with my late great aunt, even right up into my 40s, and I never saw it as anything other than a sign of affection.

But the general public can’t help themselves, and as soon as Victoria shared the snap with her followers, the criticism started under her post and over on Twitter too.

One wrote, “don’t kiss baby on lips”, while another added: “please stop kissing kids on the lips!!”

Another said: “Hmm it grosses me out a bit because for me a kiss on the lips is romantic. But a parent kissing their kids on the head, cheeks etc is wonderful. Gran never kissed lips.”

She was backed up by another Twitter user who added: “I personally am uncomfortable with lip kissing children whether by a parent or otherwise particularly if initiated by an adult. Creeps me out. What’s wrong with an affectionate peck on the cheek or head, why do you have to do that?”

And this isn’t the first time Beckham has been slated for exactly the same thing.

Last year he was he was snapped giving Harper an innocent kiss as they attended a match at the Women’s World Cup in France.

In 2018, he shared an image on his Instagram of the two of them at an ice skating rink and once again, they shared a peck, their lips barely touching.

Off the back of that, famous faces rushed to his defence and shared their kisses on their social media pages including athelete Greg Rutherford who shared a snap of him kissing his year-old son Rex on the lips.

Greg Rutherford/Instagram

He wrote: “Another round of tripe for David Beckham for kissing his daughter on the lips. Personally I’m pleased.

“At least we can be safe seeing who are and aren’t outraged and in turn, who are and aren’t idiots (I’d obviously love to put a harsher word here but I’ll keep it PC).”

Victoria also faced negative comments in 2016 when she posted a photo of her and Harper having a quick peck on the mouth in a swimming pool while on holiday celebrating Harper’s fifth birthday

But the parent-shaming doesn’t stop with the Beckhams, oh no.

Singers Pink, Gwen Stefani and Beyonce have all come under fire for pecking their children’s mouths, as did reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and American football player Tom Brady.

In 2017, David publicly defended his and Victoria’s decision to kiss their children on the lips, and insisted they are both ‘always very affectionate’ towards their offspring.

He said: “I kiss all my kids on the lips. Brooklyn maybe not. Brooklyn is 18, so he might find that a little strange, but I’m very affectionate with the kids. It’s how I was brought up – and Victoria – and it’s how we are with our children.

“We want to show our kids love and we protect them, look after them and support them. Having children is the most special thing in the world.”

He’s absolutely right. Why shouldn’t he do it? What’s wrong with an innocent peck on the lips between and parent and their child? That doesn’t make it ‘creepy’ or them a ‘weirdo’ at all.

And if you find something sinister in a moment of love between a father (or mother) and daughter, then maybe it’s you who is the weirdo.

Photo credit: victoriabeckham/Instagram

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Georgina Littlejohn

Georgina Littlejohn is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience specialising in general and London news, entertainment and music. She cut her teeth in TV writing for news, sport and showbiz programmes before moving into print, starting at Associated Newspapers where she worked across the board from the Metro to the Standard to the London Lite before ending at MailOnline, where she was one of the senior showbiz reporters. After going freelance and working stints at the Mirror, the Sun, Music Week and Closer magazine, she took a career break in 2014 to work for theatre impresario Bill Kenwright as his Head of Communications. After a year as Senior Homepage Editor for MSN, she is now back freelancing and currently working for the i newspaper and its award-winning website. Georgina also volunteers as a kennel assistant for the Mayhew and as a befriender for Age UK.

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