Dannielynn and Larry Birkhead (Getty Images)
Larry Birkhead says there is nothing wrong with his 6-year-old daughter striking a pose for Guess.
Birkhead, 39, appeared on "Good Morning America" to talk about Dannielynn following in her late mother Anne Nicole Smith's footsteps by launching a professional modeling career as the new face of Guess Kids. Although there are many critics of his parenting decision — the biggest being that the young schoolgirl should be kept out of the limelight, which essentially destroyed her mom — Birkhead noted that modeling is actually a way for Dannielynn to connect with the mom she never knew.
"Dannielynn has always looked up to her mom's image and said her mom's an angel," Birkhead, a photographer, told "GMA" on Tuesday. "I think that this is kind of Dannielynn's way of paying tribute to her mom in her own special way. ... To see her mom's picture next to hers as a Guess girl and say, 'Hey, I was a Guess Kids girl, my mommy was a Guess girl,' that might be her only connection with her mom."
Dannielynn Birkheard models for Guess. (Courtesy of Guess)
Dannielynn was only 5 months old when her mother — who catapulted into the modeling world after being named the face of Guess 20 years ago — died of a drug overdose in 2007. Birkhead then had to go through a nasty court battle with Smith's lawyer/occasional boyfriend Howard K. Stern to obtain custody of the girl. A DNA test proved Birkhead was Dannielynn's dad and, following the trial, father and daughter moved to his native Kentucky, where they have lived largely out of the spotlight. Now that is all about to change as the Guess Kids ad campaign rolls out in January and Dannielynn's image will appear in magazines and on billboards and busses.Anna Nicole Smith was the face of Guess in the 1990s. (Guess)
Paul Marciano, the creative director for Guess Inc., released a statement in which he described Dannielynn as having the "same playful spirit that her mother had on a set" in the early 1990s. "[Dannielynn] is a second-generation Guess girl, which makes this campaign a first for us."
While Dannielynn's campaign may be a first for Guess, there are many people who hope it will also be her last. After early photos of the little girl striking a pose hit the web yesterday, many omg! readers blasted Birkhead's decision to put Dannielynn into the modeling world after watching what the spotlight did to her troubled mother, whose life fell apart before the eyes of the public on reality TV and in disturbing interviews. "[Dannielynn is] a very beautiful girl, but let her be a little girl and don't make her grow up so fast," writes Yahoo! commenter CORavensFan. Meanwhile, 12know worries that Dannielynn is being exploited with this ad campaign, noting, "Just because she looks so much like her mother doesn't mean the family should be cashing in on her looks." And Doodlebug adds, "I would hope her dad would see Anna Nicole's life as a cautionary tale, but instead, he's encouraging to follow in her mom's footsteps. Sad."