In the first thousand words of a story I just read:
1. An eight-year-old receives a bikini wax.
2. A ten-year-old gets microdermabrasion.
3. Numerous children under ten get highlights.
Funny you should ask! This is not dystopian work of satirical science fiction. (Though there is a stylist who finds himself in a sort of Guy Montag type of role when a woman asks him to relax her 12-year-old's "beautiful, wavy hair.") (He now "hawks an all-natural product to moms who want to lighten their five-year-olds' locks; applied daily, it brings out subtle highlights.") No, this is a story in Philadelphia magazine, a place I used to work in a city I used to live, a city that always seemed disarmingly normal and unmaterialistic relative to my current place of business. So reading it was kind of personal for me, especially since I know its writer, Carrie Denny, and I have to say, it was weird reading sentiments of such earnest dismay as "Without the ugly years, when do you learn to accept yourself?" coming from her.
(Carrie is, like, fun and blonde and normal. She grew up in the area she's writing about. She is one of those girls who probably inspires suitors to draw lame "sunshine" analogies to her personality, but the analogies would not be inaccurate. She is really super friendly. I always figured she thought I was weird. Because I am, but you know. Anyway, I point this out only because, like, lately I feel like I am hearing feminist outrage in my life from all the last people you'd expect to hear it. Such as my mom, and my friend Angela. What does it mean? I think it means the apocalypse is really here this time! Wolf! Wolf!!)
Anyway, Carrie's theory is that somewhere girls lost their boy-craziness. It's not a bad one:
When I was in my teenybopper heyday, there were no pop chicks who I aspired to be. There were boys I aspired to marry. The media world surrounding us made us boy-crazy — maybe not a fabulous thing for a 10-year-old, but at least it didn't lead my friends and me to inject botulism into our foreheads before we could legally drink. It was innocent: We giggled, swooned, hung posters of Joey Lawrence and Luke Perry, giggled some more. And our moms were ... uninvolved. They didn't drop us at the playground with instructions to bring home the boy who looked the most like Kirk Cameron. They rolled their eyes, bemusedly shaking their heads as they passed by our rooms: Oh, you silly girls. End of story.
Not anymore. Today's girls aren't looking at posters; they're looking in the mirror. They have a new obsession — a self-obsession — and it's being aided and abetted by their mothers.
Their mothers who need to find something better to do.
Pretty Babies [Philly Mag]
Related: Never Too Young For That First Pedicure [NY Times]