Can the Wests Live?: On the Stress of Parenting in Public

by by Demetria Giles

North West, nicknamed Nori, was alongside her mother and father, Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West, during two high-profile New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway shows this past week. On Thursday, the media was in a frenzy over her loud crying prior to Kanye’s Yeezy showing, which premiered his new clothing line with Adidas. On social media, some even joked that Nori cried over the tattered and torn clothing debuted in his show. Two days later, she became emotional again while waiting for her aunt, model Kendall Jenner, to walk the runway at Alexander Wang’s NYFW show.

When I heard of the initial crying incident, like many people, I first questioned their parental judgment with the instinctual, “Seriously, why did you bring your kid to NYFW any way?” But when I heard about the second fit, I started to put myself in Kim’s shoes (red-bottom Louboutins, of course) and began to feel empathy for the West family.

Here they are. Two of the biggest and busiest celebrities alive, raising a biracial daughter, and trying to live a “normal” life while the whole world watches in anticipation. For them, bringing Nori to NYFW was probably equivalent to the idea of a middle-class black family taking their kids to a posh restaurant recommended by a neighbor or bringing them to a weekend event hosted by an employer. In both scenarios, the parents would dress their children in their Sunday best and pray that their choices are as on-point as their outfits.

But in reality, children’s tantrums are not perfectly coordinated with the event they’re at. In fact, it’s more like a firework show—when everybody is getting tired and when the environmental conditions are just right… BOOM! Out of nowhere, it begins. And just like a fireworks show, you really don’t know when it’s going to end until it’s over.

I feel for them. Better yet, I applaud them on their decision to brave the glaring eyes of “the public” knowing that the paparazzi will grasp onto every whimper their daughter makes. As a mother myself, I have experienced my fair share of temper tantrums, antics, and downright embarrassing behavior from my own toddler son over the past three years. There were many times when I wanted to scream, cry, or even run due to his unruly behavior (and sometimes all of the above at once). I can remember when we were once in a restaurant, and naptime was way overdue, a fellow young, single, black, professional women like myself leaned across the table and whispered, “He [referring to my son] is really upset.” And I remember thinking to myself: (1) thanks for stating the obvious lady; (2) he’s only two years old; and (3) you’re probably still learning to control your own emotions too! I could not imagine this scenario playing out in front of a packed venue with cameras there to record every facial expression.

So, let’s agree to leave North West alone, folks. She’s not even two years old yet. And in fact, if she were the child of two white celebrities, we probably would not be talking about her toddler ways at all. Give her a chance to grow up. She will have plenty of time to develop the “emotionally unstable” TV persona often given to women of color before Season 25 of Keeping Up with the Kardashians airs. And to Kim specifically, whether it happens to be Anna Wintour on your left o Beyoncé’ on your right or a random old man behind you in the checkout line, enjoy the fireworks. They will be over before you know it.

Demetria R. Giles is a mother, teacher and writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she majored in Journalism. She enjoys writing poetry which can be found on her personal blog at Feel free to contact her at

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