Family Matters

‘Botox Mom’ Loses Custody of Her 8-Year-Old Daughter

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Parenting is a largely self-regulated undertaking. With nary an instruction manual, we’re handed a squalling bundle and expected to make mostly good decisions about how that bundle is raised. Word of advice: don’t inject your 8-year-old with Botox. And certainly don’t go on national television to talk about it, expecting a sympathetic audience.

Kerry Campbell, an aesthetician who lives near San Francisco, did both. After drawing attention to her questionable parenting on “Good Morning America” (GMA) in a purported attempt to speak out against the practice, she now finds herself daughter-less — at least temporarily — after Britney, an aspiring beauty queen, was removed from her custody. Meanwhile, the outrage continues to build, with thousands posting comments criticizing Campbell.

(More on Time.com: “Botox Mom” and 12 Other Notorious Custody Battles)

Campbell was investigated by San Francisco’s Human Services Department, although it’s apparently since been determined that Campbell doesn’t live within the city’s jurisdiction. Trent Rohrer, who heads the department, told ABC that removing a child from a parent’s home only happens as a “last resort.”

“I would trust the social worker’s judgment because again, what the reports from the doctors we consulted with indicated [are] very serious risks to a kid subjected to Botox injections,” Rohrer said.

Campbell’s cousin said that Campbell first started administering Botox injections to Britney for a rash, according to a local affiliate. But Britney told GMA that her mother gave her the anti-wrinkle shots to enhance her beauty pageant chances.

This is the first I’ve heard of 8-year-olds having wrinkles; as of this morning, mine did not.

(More on Time.com: Study: Botox Users Have Trouble Reading Emotions in Others)

Campbell’s cousin, identified by ABC7 only as “Michelle,” told the station that Campbell approached GMA to raise awareness about pageant moms injecting their daughters and encourage them to stop. But Michelle said the interview had an unintended effect: Britney was removed from Campbell’s home on Saturday and sent to stay with a family friend.

It was the tabloid-y Sun, from England, that first introduced us to Kerry Campbell. In a March 23 article, Campbell explained that Botox injections are helping pave the way for her daughter to become a “superstar:”

This behaviour is becoming a trend in the competitive world of American child beauty pageants.

Kerry says: “When Britney takes part in pageants, parents talk about how they have given their daughter an extra jab to plump her lips or lose a wrinkle.

“Everyone is doing it and talking about it. We are not doing anything illegal, and I don’t want my daughter being the only one who doesn’t have a bit of extra help.”

On Tuesday, The Sun published another interview with Campbell in which she vows to never, ever give her daughter Botox again: “I am going to seek therapy for my obsession with looks so I will no longer push my insecurities about appearance on to her,” she said.

(More on Time.comPretty Boys: Plastic Surgery Isn’t Just for Women Anymore)

An accompanying commentary called Campbell’s backtracking “very hollow” and urged caution should Campbell eventually be reunited with her daughter.

“Kerry would have to face up to and acknowledge the full horror of what she did — and why — before she could even begin to be trusted to have Britney’s welfare at heart. It will take a lot more than remorse to make her a good mother.”

The entire episode raises troubling questions about not only the mother’s judgment but the pressure on little girls to stake their claim in the pint-sized pageant world. This is 2011, where modern moms may tolerate the make-believe world of Disney princesses — the princess culture, as any parent knows, is pretty pervasive — while making certain to drill into our daughters that being smart trumps being pretty any day. Or does it?

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