I’ve run across a slew of articles bemoaning the trend of beauty treatments aimed at girls. One recently criticized the opening of a salon for girls in the U.K (“Don’t primp children out of their innocence,” The Telegraph). Another one was downright frightening. A mom gets her 7-year old daughter a voucher for– kid you not — a boob job! (“Girl gets boob job voucher for her seventh birthday from surgery-addicted mother dubbed The Human Barbie,” MailOnline)
Like any sane person, I abhor the idea of plastic surgery for kids and, even for adults, certainly don’t think it should lead to what Jenny McCartney writes in The Telegraph as a “full-time job, spurred by a virtually permanent state of anxious self-loathing.” BUT I think society’s criticism of ANY beauty treatments/activities for kids is downright silly. For one thing, many mothers and daughters bond over beauty, just as they bond over baking with the Easy-Bake Oven (me included, as inedible as the treats turned out).
I realize there is sexualization of girls and teens in our society. I’m lucky enough that my daughter doesn’t see her appearance as a way of attracting attention, but I know the tendency exists.
Yet, I still don’t think the solution is to ban all elements related to beauty.
If our girls find the art of beautification somehow intriguing, creative and fun, should we still do away with it all together? And if we do, won’t they still find ways to satisfy their interest?
I liken it to boys and their fake guns. Banning these guns as a way to steer our boys away from violence is a worthy notion. But totally ineffective. Many boys, like mine, will still play-act their war games. Instead of limiting their exposure to water guns or laser guns, we often remind our boys how destructive/dangerous real guns are then let them play — often with a big group of friends. The result is that they’re able to channel all of this obviously innate interest in a social, creative way.
Rather than ban make-up or beauty play, why not encourage our girls to see the positive sides of this kind of play, i.e., the creative and bonding aspects of it. And all the while, encourage them not to use their appearance as anything but a form of self-expression.