If you were on Twitter yesterday, chances are you would have seen Kerry Katona’s name cropping up.
The mum of five was trending all day after an explosive chat with Real Housewives of Jersey star (and Celebs Go Dating’s Tahlia Storm’s mum), Tessa Hartmann on Good Morning Britain. The women had been invited on via video-link to discuss whether padded bikini tops sold and marketed to children, appearing on the British high-street in time for summer, were appropriate.
Now, Kerry’s got a fair few memorable morning TV appearances under her belt, but this one will surely go down in the annuls. While Kez railed against what she called the ‘sexualising of our daughters’, a cool-headed Tessa argued that padded bikini tops were doing no such thing.
“The whole thing is about choice,” she said. “It’s like anything in the market – if you don’t want to buy it, then don’t buy it.”
But things quickly got heated when Tessa, brought up Kerry's exploits on X-rated subscription site, OnlyFans.
Accusing Kerry of hypocrisy by having her daughters take explicit photos for the site while refusing to let them wear the item in question, she continued, “These are the things that are actually influencing our children.
“Isn’t it about being a role model?”
This abrupt change in tactic did not go down well with Kerry, who pointed out that her work on the over 18’s site had nothing to do with how she was raising her kids.
Women’s sex lives have traditionally been weaponised against in all manner of ways, from rape victims’ sexual histories being brought up in courts all over the world over, to, in this case, support the argument that Kerry’s opinions on padded bikini tops are void or ill informed.
Because a woman with sexual agency couldn’t possibly be a good a parent, could she? A woman who profits from her own body, under her own terms, couldn’t possibly make sound decisions on what to dress her kids in, let alone any other aspect of her parenting.
CHECK OUT: Kerry Katona's relationship timeline
Kerry Katona and Brian McFadden
Kerry shot to fame in 1999, as 1/3 of pop band Atomic Kitten. It wasn't long before Kerry was swept into her first high-profile relationship – thanks to a well-timed tour with Irish crooners Westlife.During the tour, Kerry met Brian McFadden. Three months later he asked her to marry him.Shortly after he popped the question, Brian was quoted as saying: "Everything I plan, everything I do, revolves around Kerry. When I wake up in the morning, she's the first person I call."I've written a song about her called Fragile Heart. I write songs for Kerry every day, I get so much emotion thinking about her."It wasn't long before Kerry and Brian welcomed their first child: in August 2001, daughter Molly was born.
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As a single mum to three kids (and two teenagers) who’ve all turned out pretty well and, you know, seem to actually like her quite a lot, isn’t it fair to assume that Kerry’s done a pretty good job of the whole mothering malarkey, despite her online sexploits? I would argue that a mother who teaches through example sexual agency and body confidence to her daughters is a good role model – because in our society, young girls will be taught how to diet long before they reach their teen years, but will be actively discouraged from learning how to take control of their own sexual pleasure and identity. Teaching kids how to dismantle these rigid and damaging tropes should be high on the list for any parents.
And quite apart from all this – quite apart from the fact that sheltering your kids from the s-e-x word isn’t going to stop them having it, and that conversations around consent and safety are vital to be having at any age – what does her work really have to do with the discussion at hand anyway? It felt more like an attempt to derail and embarrass, and many on Twitter have pointed out that, as Richard Madely attempted to de-escalate things and Tessa looked on smugly, it came across as nothing more than thinly veiled snobbery.
As a Real Housewife of Jersey, you can bet that Tessa lives a life of luxuriant comfort, most likely employing ‘help’ to do much of her parenting. Kerry has battled publicly with money troubles, drug addiction and destructive relationships. To have one woman from the upper echelons of society judge another mother from the bottom is based on nothing more than how she chooses to earn her money feels so much like looking-down-her-nose-ery that many took to Twitter to defend Kerry.
“Kerry Katona brings out the absolute worst in British snobbery,” said journalist Sally Hughes. “Slut shaming, education shaming, peering down our noses at her parenting, (which as far as I can see, is head and shoulders above that of any man involved). Leave her alone. Also, she’s right?”
“I honestly followed the crowd with Kerry Katona before,” said another. “However reading the comments on this I realise I had been blinded by what the papers were saying. It is snobbery in its worst form.”
Kerry was never shy about joining Only Fans – in fact she’s signposted it from her Instagram account and proudly declaring she wanted to be ‘in control’ of her glamour shoots. A lads mag favourite from the 00s, you could say that the career move was ‘on brand’ for Kerry, who’s always taken ownership of her rough and ready appeal. That Tessa felt entitled to comment so sneeringly on Kerry’s parenting says far more about her classism, than it does about Kerry’s choices.