Thursday, 25 February 2010

Why do kids want to grow up to be WAGs?

I had a toy farm when I was a kid – a scale toy farm. It was my pride and joy. I’d meticulously construct haynets from bits of cotton, pitchforks from twigs and safety-pins, fill the sheep dip with water and the stables with straw (or sawdust for housing those with a dust allergy). It was the bane of my parents’ lives; my mum lived in fear of knocking livestock over with the Hoover and my dad didn’t hear a news report or game of rugby that wasn’t interspersed with animal noises for a good 18 months.

I would declare: “When I grow up I want to be a farmer. No! I want to be a vet who’s married to a farmer and has lots of horses and dogs and I can sing to them!”

This was a few steps on from the initial “When I grow up I want to be a pony.”

These days, however, it seems that little girls’ aspirations are not quite so ... childlike. They want to be somebody, not in the sense of an astronaut or a teacher, but famous. And rich. I recently read that most girls now dream of pop stardom or being a WAG. I’m not arrogant enough to dismiss being a chart sensation as a career but it and WAGdom (and the sentiment behind the aspiration) have two common factors: fame and money. The talent element doesn’t seem to feature as highly as the desire for big hair, an even bigger house and enough jewellery to give B.A. Baracus a run for his money. Kids still want to become the people they look up to; it’s just that the objects of their admiration have altered somewhat.

Celebrity gossip magazines and Big Brother et al put a bit of a nasty taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a snob, and in fact furtive glances at the Daily Mail’s online TV and showbiz section are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine (and apparently of my sister’s although this took much gentle coaxing for her to confess) but I really object to the fact that becoming well known can take little more than a seedy kiss-and-tell or falling out of Mahiki flashing your bits after a stint on a low-rent reality show.

The part that I don’t simply object to but find, quite frankly, upsetting is that young girls look at those women, that lifestyle and want a part of it without realising that, by and large, it’s ... well, kind of skanky and, over and above picking one’s preferred shade of nail varnish/ tan, not exactly brain-taxing.

“Hey kids, get fake tits, shag a footballer and live the dream!”

What’s wrong with wanting to be a brain surgeon or SpongeBob Squarepants? Read more By Chess.