This morning, 11-year-old Willow Smith posted a picture of herself with what looks like a tongue ring. Rumors were started; pearls were clutched. Most naysayers were concerned with whether or not the fledgling singer is “too young” for such an accessory.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that the tongue ring isn’t real. Willow doesn’t look much older than her 11 years, and that is obviously too young to legally get a piercing in most states, and it’s highly doubtful that either of her parents would sign off on something like that.
But let’s say it is. Let’s say she somehow managed to finagle herself a tongue ring, against all odds. And let’s say her parents knew about it, or if they didn’t, they sure know about it now.
Does it really accomplish anything for the entire world to weigh in on whether she should have done it? I think not.
Look, if I had an 11-year-old daughter and she got her tongue pierced, might I be a bit distressed? Sure. But this isn’t about my hypothetical kids, or anyone else’s real kids, or what is “right” and “wrong,” because no one can make that decision for anyone else. Instead, what this photo has turned into in the span of about two hours is yet another opportunity for moms and dads to bash each other for their parenting decisions.
HollywoodMoms, for instance, asks its readers to vote on “Would YOU let your 11-year-old get a tongue piercing?” Babycenter asks the same thing, querying its readers: “What is your reaction to Willow Smith’s tongue piercing photo? Would you allow it?”
Listen – as a blogger, I get that any time someone famous does something questionable, it’s nice because it gives you something to write about and that helps you with your post count. Sad truth of blogging. But at the same time, the whole notion of parents ripping apart each others choices online, which is done for no good reason other than to reinforce their own values and make themselves momentarily forget about their own mistakes, well, it’s getting kind of tired.
Besides, no one explained better than Will Smith himself why it’s important for him to allow Willow bodily autonomy. He made the following comment when discussing his daughter’s propensity for shaving her head:
“When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world…She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”
Photo via Tumblr