In the last ten days or so I’ve seen some crazy go on in the world of girls. First it was Monster High, which we’ve talked about before, but is in the news again. You recall Mattel’s newest creation of undead dolls and cartoon that look like oddly colored, vamped up prostitutes walking around on stilts-like legs. Sure it is a direct play by Mattel to cash in on the current culture crush of vampire/monster love right now thanks to the Twilight industry. And yes, you better believe your child’s classmates have seen the movies and maybe even read the books….about manipulative and controlling relationships between a teenage girl, a vampire, and a werewolf. I don’t get it. You know, I’m just uncomfortable with the idea of my child playing with a doll that looks like a sex worker, packaged with pathetic character story lines about boys, partying, and body beautification treatments like waxing and applying massive amounts of lotion.
But with girls aging out of Barbie by age 7, Mattel needed another line of add-on toys for these girls to consume. So, with the marketing practice of age compression, a development team at Mattel would look at what 14-15 year olds are into, and then turn that into a product for a 8-9 year old. Undead streetwalker-looking dolls was the logical next choice.
Then there was the story of the British mum who relocated her and her daughter to San Francisco to be closer to the children’s beauty pageant circuit. This mother is determined that her daughter is going to become a teen star and earn her millions. Which is why, naturally, she is injecting the 8 year old with Botox, saline, and giving her virgin waxes. I’ll just let you go ahead and Google that. The story broke in The Sun, which is a tabloid, but has since been verified by other news outlets.
Cheeky little Britney (aptly named) is quoted saying, “My friends think it’s cool I have all the treatments and they want to be like me. I check every night for wrinkles, when I see some I want more injections. They used to hurt, but now I don’t cry that much. I also want a boob and nose job soon, so that I can be a star.” I want to weep.
What’s worse, mom defends herself saying, “I know one day she will be a model, actress or singer, and having these treatments now will ensure she stays looking younger and baby-faced for longer. I’m sure people reading this will think I am being irresponsible…All I want is for Britney to have the best start in life, so it is easier for her to become a superstar.”
And then, for the win: “More mothers should do it for their daughters.”
Well, Kerry, I tell you what. I’m excited that my five year old has her first loose tooth. I’m in no rush to grow her. I like the idea of childhood. I like it very much. You would have to tie me down or knock me out if you came near my child’s face with hot wax. This weekend when I was blow drying my hair, I let her sit on the floor in front of the mirror and put on some very light-colored make-up. She had it all over her face, little iridescent shimmery powder, because she didn’t know what she was doing. And you know what? I didn’t correct her or show her how to do it. I sorta think five year olds really shouldn’t have any idea how to put on make-up.
We talked about the idea of giving an 8yo “beauty” treatments like this on the Pigtail Pals facebook page ALL day on Wednesday and into Thursday. We discussed, among many things, that using invasive and routinely painful cosmetic procedures to physically alter the way your child will grow into an adult and inject toxic self-hating thoughts into her little mind to the point she is anxious to surgically alter herself with the wild hopes of someday becoming a megastar earning millions should constitute as child abuse. But it doesn’t. The cosmetic use of Botox on kids SO new, there aren’t even laws on the books to make what this messed up mama is doing illegal or child abuse. It sure as shit should be, but it isn’t. I think mama and baby both need some loving therapy.
We finished up last week with the latest from repeat sexualization offender Abercrombie & Fitch – a new push-up bikini top that is sold in their KIDS shop, available in sizes Small to XLarge. Now I’ve been working with kids for about twenty years, and I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet a seven year old with breasts developed to even be pushed-up. And let’s say I had a 12 year old girl who did have breasts and she was allowed to wear a bikini….would I want that bikini top to be a triangle cut push-up that shoves her baby boobies front and center for all to see? Aside from self-esteem issues that go with sexualization, we also have to give some thought to the idea that when our daughters walk around like little Lolitas, they attract the sexual attention from men and boys that they are not mature enough to handle. This also becomes a safety issue.
A padded bikini top sold to children sells the feeling of inadequacy about their baby boobies that aren’t done growing yet and the message that they need help in the form in strategically sewn padding to ensure they are constantly sexy.
Here’s a great quote featured on Racked (I know, ironic.): “Blogger Kdiddy at Moxiebird eloquently explains: It’s not that kids in the 7 – 14 age group aren’t aware of their bodies and have no sexual feelings or thoughts until they’re 18. We know that’s not true. But there’s a healthy way to explore those feelings that doesn’t turn a young girl into another object to be ogled. If that’s how she wants to display her sexuality, then she can make that choice for herself when she’s older. When she’s a kid and, presumably, her parents are paying for her clothing, they need to make the call as to what is appropriate and protect her from crap like this while she’s still under their care. Navigating one’s early teens is hard enough. We don’t need to add another layer of confusion by making a young girl wonder if her cleavage looks appealing enough.”
The bright spot in all of this was a brilliant post titled “Slut Shaming on the Playground”, and gave such a wonderful and easy example of how parents can talk to their kids, guide them into a healthy place to have their sexuality develop at a normal and age appropriate place.
This isn’t about keeping our daughters forever young. This is about allowing them their natural born right to a childhood, a girlhood, and a safe passage into the teen years with a strong sense of self and confidence. This is about keeping sexualized marketing practices and products away from our kids. There is a time and a place for sexy and experimentation. That time and place IS NOT grade school.
Our friend Dr. Robyn Silverman added to my statement with her own: “When we allow our young girls’ childhood about being sexy, we take their attention away from developing their true sense of self and how they can affect the world and we put it on what others want them to be and what the world demands of them.”
Dr. Robyn was on the TODAY Show this morning talking about Abercrombie’s move. What do you think of the clip? Her post also contains some great advice for parents on how to parent around all of this nonsense.
I do not accept the sexualization of childhood.
I will continue to fight it.
I will continue to hold firm to the belief my children have a natural born right to a childhood.