On my blog, Suri's Burn Book (and in its print form), I portray Suri Cruise as a take-no-prisoners perfectionist, like Anna Wintour in miniature. (Call it "The Devil Wears Bonpoint"). It's easy to imagine her this way when we see her heading to a late-night New York dinner in kitten heels and Marc Jacobs. But in the wake of the dissolution of the once-mighty Holmes-Cruise empire, many people -- and especially me -- are reimagining the realities of Suri's young life.
Even though the TomKat split felt out of the blue for everyone (apparently even Tom), there had been rumors of trouble in paradise for a while. I always chose to ignore them, fearing that scandal or divorce would make the silliness of Suri's Burn Book stop being fun, for me and for readers. Earlier this year, I was near panic when Katie didn't walk the Oscars red carpet with her husband, who was presenting Best Picture. (What else could Katie possibly have had going on? A Razzies after party with the cast of Jack and Jill?) I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she showed up for the Vanity Fair party and did this.
When news of the split broke, I was selfishly terrified. Suri's Burn Book is frivolous and sarcastic -- two words I wouldn't want to associate with the actual struggles that kids face. I didn't write about Mariah Carey's twins during Nick Cannon's health scare, and I don't write about Heidi and Seal's kids nearly as often as I did before the breakup. I feel like I'm still getting over that heartbreak, and I don't live with them.
Up until this summer, it had been hard not to see Suri as an indulged primadonna, doted on by her extremely privileged family and the media alike. It's what made her the obvious choice when I decided to write my blog about celebrity children from the perspective of one of their own. But for every photo of her rolling her eyes at her mom, there are many more of them smiling together. She is obviously a much-loved little girl. I just generally don't use the photos of her where she's behaving in a way that's antithetical to the character I pretend she is: being koala-carried by her mom, wearing flip-flops, picking her nose. (Google it -- she's a chronic nose-picker.) After her parents' split, I had to wonder if it was fair to keep posting pictures of her at all. Despite the way the media and her own parents present her, she's a 6-year-old girl who is now going through something really hard. I can't imagine how I would feel if my parents split up now, let alone when I was 6.
When she threw a temper tantrum over a puppy at a pet store, was she being an entitled brat or acting out in a rough period of time?
When she demands that Katie carries her, is she being petulant and lazy or is her heart heavy and she's too overwhelmed to look at the paparazzi?
When Tom whisks her away to the Hamptons by helicopter and to Disney World by private jet, is he making the most of his limited time with his daughter or is he putting on a show for the media -- with the world's cutest prop?
Like many curious outsiders, I have these questions swirling around in my brain. For the most part, I've chosen not to post these pictures at all. Mostly, it's because my version of Suri would never admit to clinging to Katie or smiling lovingly at Tom, whom she sees as the two most embarrassing humans on the planet. It's business as usual from where I sit: Tom will continue to be a loathsome troll, Katie an unkempt disaster, and the rest of the celebrity offspring a tremendous disappointment to my heroine. But there's a twinge of sadness there that I don't want to poke at -- the possibility that Suri is losing her mind not because she's a drama queen who just spilled her ice cream, but because her life is complicated and evolving right now. (Those pet store pout pics were hard to pass up, though.)
Follow Allie Hagan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@allie_hagan