The Smith children are making a splash. While the Hollywood ”it’ couple’s youngest son Jaden Smith stars in the remake of ‘The Karate Kid,’ nine-year-old Willow Smith is rocking a mohawk with animal prints. After red carpet pictures surfaced of Will and Jada’s only daughter wearing leopard-print harem pants, a cheetah print cropped jacket paired with combat boots, thick gold chains and her already double-sided shaven hair, a new style debate emerged, is Willow’s look too grown?

The press unsurprisingly weighed in.

The Washington Post said Willow Smith is a “misled elementary-aged girl” and that there’s a fine line between individuality and caricature. A Huffington Post headline read “Willow Smith, 9, Looks Twice Her Age.” The emerging child star is already getting a taste of the media’s punches.

Our first question is, in the making of a child star, when does a call for shock value and competitive image branding go too far?

News the Smith family plans to launch a recording career for Willow makes her outfit more make-sense–or at least more understandable.

Reports reveal Jada Pinkett Smith, who stars in the TNT drama “Hawthrone” has put her own music career on hold to help her daughter pursue a recording career. Jada shares after many years of hoping for her own music career to take off, she sacrificed her stage dreams to help her children launch their careers.

Admittedly, I took a deep sigh of relief after hearing the news. But no real shock here–Jada has been welding Willow into the Smith family franchise for sometime now. In 2004, the actress featured a four-year-old Willow on the cover of her first children’s book Girls Hold Up This World. Not long out of the tiny-totts stage, the family introduced the child into Hollywood. Willow made a cameo in her father’s film “I Am Legend,” and in 2008, quickly accepted roles in “Madagascar: Escape to Africa” and “Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl” for which she was awarded a Young Artist Award for “Best Performance in a Feature Film.” Somehow hearing the recent news the Smith family plans to launch a recording career for the budding actress makes her outfit more make-sense–or at least, more understandable. Child stars from Justin Bieber to Miley Cyrus are big business and surely no easily feat, and if Willow is to become the next Rihanna (open the gates Lord!), the Smith parents have to start early.

And early they have clearly started. Willow walked the red carpet dark rounded sunglasses and all like she owned it.

But can teaching or allowing (we can only guess here) a child to openly express their creative instincts through racy hair and clothing be healthy? Many of us imagine the Smith couple to be largely unorthodox. From their rumored or sometimes confirmed open marriage practices to their alleged Scientology membership, it isn’t surprising the Black star couple with staying power would have a new age approach on parenting–heck, I for one, couldn’t dare think of wearing any form of animal print at nine. Children used to sneak to change clothing or hairstyles in the school bathroom, now it seems, child style with edge is a new and accepted norm. And if we’re thinking of isolating the Smith family in ‘misled child’ Tinseltown commentary, guess again. We can give side-eyes and place child protective services on speed dial for a number of Hollywood parents.

When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ three-year-old daughter Suri was spotted wearing high heels at a charity event last year, the press spun in a quick and short frenzy. The actress immediately defended her daughter’s pumps for tots stating, “She’s loves my high heels, and wanted her own.” Holmes said the heels are safe and little Suri continues to be spotted wearing them. In 2007, Maddoxx, adopted son of actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was pictured with a temporary tattoo. A dinosaur head with added designs, some said it was innocent child art, while others warned it was prepping the young child for an early fetish for skin ink.

For these celebs with children not long out of huggies–like Mel B.’s half-hair shaven daughter Phoenix Chi–it’s obvious these are intentional parenting choices. For Willow Smith however–whether her rocked out style is a matter of nature or nurture is yet to be determined.

Could Jada be playing out her rocker persona through Willow?

In a recent interview with Oprah, Jada said Willow asked to have her hair half-shaven. No doubt the retro trend swept the nation from Rihanna to Cassie– and if Willow was anywhere near a television or a celebrity blog–she was likely to be easily inspired. But how sure can we be the hair and animal print match up are not the style choices of people outside of nine-year-old Willow? Daughter like mother or mother like daughter? Red carpet Willow could easily be the second vocalist in Jada’s Wicked Wisdom hard rock band. While the actress claims she’s placing her singing career on hold, could Jada be playing out her rocker persona through Willow? Red carpet Jada and Wicked Wisdom Jada are an unconventional polar opposites. Jada walking an Oscars red carpet hand and hand with husband Will gives sleek, feminine and demure while rocker Jada gives edgy, butch and dark. Don’t mistake, a multi-layered Black woman is refreshing, and I live Wicked Wisdom’s ‘Taste Your Fruit,’but will a suppressed rocker warp Jada into a stage Mom?

On the other hand, it could be better for Willow to experiment with style–much like discovering ourselves– at nine rather than 30. Fashion faux pas or quarter-life backpacking to Amsterdam in efforts of ‘finding yourself’ in between open-legged Britney Spears car exiting and Lindsay Lohan drug binging might be an avoidance for Willow. Who knows? But after the child star’s official leopard debut, we’re eagerly waiting to see what happens next.

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