I had my first-ever manicure at age 19, using a gift certificate given to me by the woman I had been interning for that summer as a thank you for my work. The whole process made me feel nervous and uncomfortable: some stranger pouring over my hands, studying them, holding them, painting them. I had made it all the way through high school and my first year of college with no deeper knowledge about "beauty" than whatever I was able to discern by reading what came with the giveaways I got with my Clinique face soap and toner. (I had a lot of that bronze lipstick, suffice it to say.) And I think I was lucky: Cosmetics companies and spas are making greater and greater efforts, reports the NY Times, to convince young children and their parents that they cannot live their lives without regular manicures, pedicures, cosmetics and, sometimes, full-out makeovers. Six to nine-year olds are, apparently, the latest demographic that the beauty industry is trying to entrap.
What to do with your 3-year old for her birthday? Take her and 10 of her closest friends for pedicures and virgin daiquiris. Or better yet: Pack the kiddies all up and ship them off to Club Libby Lu for a makeover party, where make-up tips are dispensed and wigs can be donned so that your still-developing child can see herself as she might someday (ought?) to be. And yet, as the Times observes, if a toddler is having a "makeover," what exactly is there to makeover? These children aren't even old enough to read: Are they old enough to realize that their current "look" is no good and needs major, professional help?
Says Queen Bees & Wannabes author Rosalind Wiseman:
Mothers and fathers do really crazy things with the best of intentions. I don't care how it's couched, if you're permitting this with your daughter, you are hyper-sexualizing her. It's one thing to have them play around with makeup at home within the bubble of the family. But once it shifts to another context, you are taking away the play and creating a consumer, and frankly, you run the risk of having one more person who feels she's not good enough if she's not buying the stuff.
I couldn't have said it better myself.