Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's the Message?

I'm confused. My girl has just finished 6th grade. She's a great kid, a great student and most of her friends seem to be the same type. They all make highest honors and are involved in athletic and/or artistic pursuits. They aren't among the "prostitots", to borrow a phrase from my ever clever niece, in heavy black eyeliner and barely there clothing. And, collectively, these "good girls" have mothers who bring them to the salon to get blonde highlights in their hair, eyebrow waxes, pedicures, and encourage them to wear makeup. They are 12 years old. They've barely started to get pimples. And the weird thing is most of the moms seem (or at least look) pretty down to earth to me.
What is this really about? Is the message that they aren't pretty enough the way they are without all the primping and spending? Or they are princess divas who deserve to be pampered? Is our culture so lacking in ritual that the salon and the spa now stand as rights of passage for girls on the verge of becoming young women? It's like they are being told it is not enough that they are dedicated students, athletes and friends. They should be all that and also be (or try to be) exceptionally "pretty" as well. How many steps will it be from Mom calling for beauty professional intervention at age 12 to eating disorders and other bad reactions to the nearly inevitable realization reached by every teenage girl-- OMG! I've got Mom's (insert unfortunate feature of choice) and Dad's weird (insert another unfortunate feature of choice) and I'm probably not ever going to look like the Hollister models no matter how many $50 sweatshirts I buy there.
What's the big rush to get past the natural beauty of childhood anyway? Who do they need to be so prettified for? Are we trying to sell them off into a good marriage match or something?

And you might be wondering, what about me? What kind of mother am I on that spectrum? My girl gets haircuts every 2 or 3 months. Sometimes she paints her own nails. She has an extensive collection of lip gloss. She owns but rarely wears clear mascara (heh. clear mascara.) and says she's thinking about asking me if it would be ok if she got some real mascara. I told her I'd think about it.


Kinuk said...

I see it a lot with my husband's girl asked her friend a few days ago why she doesn't shave her legs. They're 10 years old.

Some of it comes from the home, but I maintain that most of it comes from the media. The music videos, especially. Women in music videos couldn't be wearing less if they tried, couldn't act more sexual if they were in an adult film and couldn't be more made up if they were Tammy Faye Baker.

Whatever the reasons are, it's all pretty sad. Children are rushing through childhood to get to teenagedom when they rush through to adulthood.

Heidi said...

i worked in a place where there was a 2nd grade girl who got her brows waxed and routinely wore lip gloss and eyeshadow...and it wasn't mom who was encouraging this, but DAD, who thought he was going to have the next brittany spears.