It has been described as a moral dilemma no parent wants to confront: whether there are circumstances when you should ‘shop’ your child. But for Leytonstone mum Jaqui Privas, it was the only way to save her 14 year old daughter Viki’s future.
‘When I saw the pictures from the school prom, I was just gobsmacked,’ said Jaqui. ‘It wasn’t just that she was being loud and obnoxious – that’s par for the course after a few shots – it was her resemblance to a beached whale that really bothered me.
‘It was criminal. I knew the pictures would be all over Facebook and the school yearbook, and that without my intervention she would have no future at all. It's a hard decision to make, but it's something that any good parent would be prepared to do.’
Jaqui said she spent half the night making her daughter look acceptable, before posting the shopped pictures with suitably glowing comments. She then signed her daughter up to Weight Watchers and bought her a gym membership.
‘Children have to learn to face the consequences of their actions, regardless of the anguish it might cause,’ she said. ‘Learning to eat salad and how to walk half a mile unaided are sacrifices she will just have to make.’
Critics say that shopping a child can damage a child’s prospects if the truth is discovered, and it can put a strain on family relationships, but parents who have taken the step have no regrets. ‘It can give them the time they need to turn their life around,’ said Jaqui. ‘They know it’s their last chance at ever getting on the telly or marrying a footballer.’
Asked for her reaction to her mother’s tough love, Viki said she would forever be grateful. ‘I never went to none of the classes, but the photos helped attract boys and now I’m pregnant, so that’s my future sorted.’