Actually, Babies Shouldn’t Work

Photo: Matt Baron/Shutterstock.
At three years old, most kids can carry on a short conversation, use a tricycle, and put their own shoes on (as long as they've got Velcro, instead of laces). Stormi Webster, however, has reached another developmental milestone: At the ripe old age of three, she already has an "office" and a "brand."
In the second segment of her new YouTube series, Inside Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner reveals that she brings her daughter to work — and teases that Stormi is "actually launching a little secret brand soon that we've been working on awhile, but finally, it's the pedal to the medal." As she speaks, Stormi jumps into a ball pit and squeals.
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While Stormi's "office" isn't short on toys, and Jenner is undoubtedly playing the force behind whatever brand Stormi is "launching," there's still something a little unsettling about seeing girl boss culture being passed down to a new generation — even if it's just implicitly.
This isn't just an issue related to the Kardashian-Jenner family, either. In recent years, more and more bloggers have begun helping their children jump-start their own influencer careers. In a 2019 story, New York Times reporter Sapna Maheshwari dove into the world of "kidfluencers," children as young as four years old with their own Instagram accounts, brand partnerships, and name recognition. As Maheshwari pointed out, these kids don't have the same financial protections that, for example, child actors are given, since they aren't protected by the decades-old laws put in place to protect minors in that industry. 
But it would also be false to assume all child actors are "protected," even if their finances ostensibly are. Many end up suing their parents, and others — like Mary-Kate Olsen, perhaps one of the best-known child stars of all time — don't exactly have positive things to say about their experiences. "I wouldn't wish my upbringing on anybody," Olsen told Marie Claire in 2010. Olsen, who likened herself to a "little monkey performer," started her career at just nine months old.
In the age of "hustle culture" and endless work-life balance discourse, an obsession with work is viewed as a badge of honour. At one point in the video, Kris Jenner gushes about her daughter's drive. "What I see and what most people don't realise, especially with Kylie, is that she does work 18 hours a day at the things that she's passionate about. It's non-stop. It's such an emotional, spiritual, physical experience for her," the Kardashian-Jenner matriarch says. Without dismissing Kylie's influence and work ethic, it's important to note that her success comes from more than just putting in long hours at the office, and it would be disingenuous to ignore the huge role her family played in her career.
None of this is to say that calling Stormi's playroom an "office" isn't inherently harmful. And it's great that Kylie is able to bring her daughter to work with her (although it is a privilege that few working parents enjoy). But it's worth examining why mothers like Jenner love to boast that their toddlers are so "driven," and why many people find kidfluencers so cute.
The idea that working hard, and starting to work early in life, is somehow virtuous simply isn't true, and as many of us know all too well, the hustle can be harmful. Work is best left for adults; Stormi is a toddler and, as shown in the video, she enjoys playing with blocks and dolls and jumping in her ball pit. She has her whole life ahead to get started on her brand.

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