The Daily Mail's questionable interest in young girls has been well documented but even by its own uncomfortably low standards the Mail Online has turned the creepiness up a notch today with a story about Heidi Klum's eight-year-old daughter, who the Mail thinks is a "leggy beauty":
In the article itself the Mail Online has four pictures of the eight-year-old girl being picked up from a gymnastics class, wearing gym shorts:
"It looks like Heidi Klum's daughter might be hoping to become a model just like her mother... Heidi's eldest Leni clearly stole the show with her workout attire..."
What "show" is this? She's being picked up from gymnastics in her gym kit?
The Mail's caption writer adds beneath one shot:
"All eyes on me: The eight-year-old showed off her best model walk through the parking lot..."
And when the Mail says "all eyes" were on the eight-year-old girl, what they mean is "a photographer waited outside a kid's gym class to take these photos, knowing we buy pictures of very young girls".
The very young girl in question is doing nothing more attention-seeking than walking out of a gym class in her gym kit, into the no-doubt uninvited glare of a paparazzi's camera yet the Mail's "all eyes on me" premise suggests a child wearing a gym kit to a gym class is somehow shameless attention-seeking by an eight-year-old girl. Similarly, the Mail's suggestion that an eight-year-old girl was doing her best "modelling walk" and also "putting on her best modelling face" are part of the same weak justification.
The Daily Mail does an increasingly implausible job of holding itself up as some kind of moral arbiter yet its online editors seem to see no reason why an eight-year-old girl should be allowed to go to and from a gym class without comments being passed on her body.
The Mail has been roundly criticised online and by its own readers for this article. The best-rated comments posted on its story all make a similar point:
The Mail has responded by removing the phrase "leggy beauty" from the promotion of the story in its right hand column:
The Mail has also removed two of the pictures of the child from its story. However the article still makes for very uneasy reading.