The "Botox Mom" Was Only a Hoax. Even So, She’s Still a Cautionary Tale

What Women Really Think
May 19 2011 4:35 PM

The "Botox Mom" Was Only a Hoax. Even So, She’s Still a Cautionary Tale

So, as TMZ and Jezebel inform us today, the infamous Botox mom wasn’t named "Kerry Campbell," she never gave her daughter Botox, and she didn’t even drag her through the pageant circuit. That, according to a sworn affidavit she signed so as to help her regain custody of her daughter after family services took her away in response to the many calls received after "Campbell" went on Good Morning America .

The woman, actually named Sheena Upton, initially perpetrated the hoax in exchange for $200 from the British tabloid, the Sun . There are conflicting reports as to whether she might have also received money from Good Morning America and/or Inside Edition . But money, however much or little it was, doesn’t appear to be her motivation. RadarOnline quotes an anonymous "insider" saying that "Kerry is obsessed with reality television, and wants to become famous."

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One of the many disturbing aspects of the pageant culture that we all thought Upton was submitting her daughter is that so often moms seem to be living vicariously through their children, subjecting them to garish makeup and hairdos and way-too-mature clothing in pursuit of … fame? If not fame, then at least attention.

Upton might not have actually put her daughter through the rigors of the pageant circuit. But what she actually did wasn’t so different. She got an 8-year-old to lie about taking Botox, and about worrying over wrinkles, on national television. For what purpose?

It would be nice to say that Good Morning America comes out of this looking the worst, for hyping the story with shoddy journalism.  (Did they ask to see videos of her pageant performances? Did they Google "Kerry Campbell" or "Britany/Britney/Brittany Campbell" to see if any pageant photos came up? There’s a lot you can learn about even nonfamous people with a quick Google search.) And to be sure, GMA deserves whatever criticism they get for this.

But I’m still more bothered by the actions of the mother.  Using your child as the means toward fulfilling a bizarre wish to be famous is a bad idea, whether it involves Botox or hoaxes.

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.