While the Beckham family enjoys a fabulous vacation in the African desert, social media is melting down over a photo of David Beckham sweetly kissing daughter Harper on the lips.
On Thursday, David posted a photo to Instagram depicting him and his 5-year-old daughter Harper Beckham in Tanzania, giving each other a peck on the mouth. “Kiss for Daddy,” David wrote alongside the image. Of the 1.7 million people who liked the photo, a lively debate sprung between those who saw the kiss as a loving gesture and inappropriate.
“David, to kiss lips of your daughter that’s wrong,” wrote one person on Instagram. Another opined, “I just think she’s a little too old for that is all.”
David also had plenty of support from those who deemed the kiss sweet: “Beautiful photo mate. Ignore the people that have a problem with it. Nothing wrong with showing your children affection…” and “ I have always kissed my children on the lips. They are now in their mid 20s. All 3 of them and we still kiss on the lips. Nothing wrong with it at all….”
David’s wife Victoria Beckham stirred up similar controversy in July when she posted an Instagram photo on Harper’s birthday featuring the mother and daughter kissing in a swimming pool. Comments on the post ranged from “beautiful” to “Ew.”
Other celebs who have faced wrath for their parental displays of affection include Hillary Duff who in December posted an Instagram shot of herself kissing son Luca, 4, at Disneyland. After receiving criticism, Duff tweeted, “For anyone commenting that a kiss on the lips with my four year old is ‘inappropriate’ go ahead and click a quick unfollow with your warped minds and judgment.”
So why is this such a big deal? “Kissing one’s child on the lips isn’t confusing — it’s society that confuses things,” Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless, tells Yahoo Beauty. “The act is no different than sleeping in the same bed with a child, but people rarely label that sexual.”
The scientific benefits of physical affection are undeniable. Kids who receive regular hugs and kisses from their parents have higher self-esteem and are better communicators and happier adults. Just like any other caring behavior between a toddler and a parent — snuggling, bathing, co-sleeping — lip kissing (for those who do it) tends to fade out as kids grow and mature.
“At the end of the day, people are parenting from afar and the public is drawing a big conclusion based on a fleeting moment of affection between a father and his daughter,” says Alpert. “Sometimes a kiss is truly just a kiss.”
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