Victoria Beckham and Romeo Beckham

Mommy and her billboard

It’s not a secret that mothers and fathers are now actively parenting in the age of the “mini-me.” And with back to school shopping underway, that sect of the parenting world is rolling out the credit cards, particularly with the growing children’s luxury brand industry. This means why opt for Target dresses when you can get Christian Dior silk party dress? Why get your child those back-to-school Adidas when $200 Gucci sneakers are available in kids’ sizes? But in case you weren’t already convinced that children have, in many ways, become the latest flashy accessory for everyone from struggling celebrity mothers to designers hoping to dress them, consider what one fashion director said about children being their parents’ “billboards.” And here I thought that they were just legacies!

Throughout the USA Today‘s exploration of $795 Gucci backpacks and $1,090 Lanvin coats, we’re met with this prediction: “…as the wealthy feel more comfortable about spending again, they increasingly want their kids to reflect themselves.” This means that the “mini-me phenomenon,” as one New York-based fashion consultant put it, is spreading — fast. Los Angeles and New York City are no longer going to be the only metropolitan places where you can expect to find parents shelling out $10,000 a year on back to school clothes, but also places like Boston and Chicago reportedly.

Considering that luxury brands are targeting the kiddies of the one percent (we’re talking households with incomes of at least $350,000), all seems pretty fluffy and harmless. Of course the wealthy will splurge on their snowflakes. Nothing new or particularly damaging there until a fashion director at US Weekly, and mother, starts calling children “billboards”:

Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director at Us Weekly, admits that some of the clothes are outrageously prices. But, she says, things like $200 Gucci sneakers make her kids happy.

“They’re a walking billboard of you. They’re a reflection of who you are, so if you are someone highly stylized, then you want to make sure your kids are the best-dressed kids out there,” she says.

While I wouldn’t tinker too much with the reasoning that children can be a reflection of their parents, the idea that kids are “walking billboards” — fashion billboards in this context! —  is a deeply troublesome way to view children, to say the very least. Sure, I’ve encountered many a comment or reader email in my Mommyish tenure that would suggest some children to have the grave misfortune of being their parents’ accessories. But no one has ever outright admitted it — nor compared them to billboards in the same breath for that matter. Admitting kids are “walking billboards” is perhaps only a few sentences away from saying that you carry them around in your purse and whip them out to impress strangers. That you wear them to luncheons because they match your slingbacks oh so well. Excuse me, ma’am, but may I asked where you purchased your “designer” baby?

The fashion director may have just made a silly gaffe, but a nevertheless telling one in an industry clearly looking to appeal to self-obsessed parents.

(photo: Will Alexander/WENN.com)