On Sunday, the Daily Mail spotted a celebrity with something highly incriminating in her mouth. It wasn’t a crack pipe, ecstasy pill, or the tongue of a high-ranking politician.
No, it was a pacifier—a gummy nipple, also sometimes called a dummy, that parents use to soothe their babies—and the celebrity was Harper Beckham, the 4-year-old daughter of the fashion icons David and Victoria Beckham.
But wait a minute, inquired the Daily Mail: Isn’t the daughter of the famous footballer and fashion designer a bit old to be using a pacifier? Rather than quietly side-eyeing a stranger’s parenting practices, and then continuing on with one’s day, as is the generally agreed upon practice among judgmental-but-civil human beings, the Daily Mail’s show business reporter decided to further investigate and ask some experts, first among them Clare Byam-Cook, a “former midwife.”
“I can’t believe she is still using a dummy,” said the former midwife of the former Spice Girl’s daughter. “If she has a dummy in their mouth at this age, at four, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development.”
Naturally, the story baited other “experts” and concerned Daily Mail readers to pile on via Twitter, where they copped to feeling “shocked” and “confused” to see the small girl with a pacifier.
As much as I like Mr. Beckham, to see 4 year old Harper still using a dummy is quiet disturbing #notababyanymore
— Irene Parker (@irene_parker) August 9, 2015
@beckham_emo please take that horrid dummy out of harpers mouth!! 4 years old??! really!
— @tracey.loopy (@traceyleicester) August 9, 2015
Why does Harper Beckham still have a dummy?
— Ophelia Storm ⚡️ (@opheliastorm_) August 8, 2015
Just saw photos of the Beckham girl with a dummy. She’s FOUR YEARS OLD, fgs.
— Curses, foiled again (@bigwows) August 8, 2015
Seeing pics of David Beckham with his kids in @DailyMail just confused as to why harper still has a dummy in her mouth? Shocked….
— Colette (@colette_glasgow) August 8, 2015
David Beckham, speaking up for fed-up parents everywhere, responded on his Instagram account, asking why people feel entitled to criticize parents about their own children, and garnering nearly 600,000 “likes.”
“Everybody who has children knows that when they aren’t feeling well or have a fever you do what comforts them best and most of the time it’s a pacifier,” he wrote.
The Daily Mail’s expert would disagree: “You are far less likely to speak if you have a dummy in your mouth than if your mouth is free,” she is quoted as saying.
Perhaps someone should pass a dummy to the Daily Mail.