Girls as young as 6 to 9 years old are a hot market for cosmetic companies. See, they want to look like Hannah Montana and get makeovers like contestants on America's Next Top Model. The New York Times reports:
In a study last year, 55 percent of 6- to 9-year-old girls said they used lip gloss or lipstick, and nearly two-thirds said they used nail polish, according to Experian, a market research company based in New York. In 2003, 49 percent of 6- to 9-year-old girls said they used lip gloss or lipstick.
Youth market analysts say this is part of a trend called KGOY, “kids getting older younger,” and cultural observers describe a tandem phenomenon, more-indulgent parents.
Increasing in popularity are birthday "primping" parties in which girls go to salons for manicures and pedicures or do makeovers at slumber parties. The Times sat in on one mani/pedi birthday party for a 7-year-old, who told her mother, "Look, we’re reading an adult magazine" while holding an issue of People with Britney Spears on the cover. Um, anyone else disturbed by this?
The chain Club Libby Lu offers makeovers and makeover parties to young girls like these, and Hannah Montana transformations — makeup, accessories, clothes, and wigs included — are especially popular. The Libby Lu site is plastered with images of the pop star, née Miley Cyrus, and excited girls around age 10 are pictured donning blonde wigs and fake microphone headsets. You can even see one disturbingly young girl's transformation in a series of YouTube videos.
So we're teaching girls that appearance is quite important from a very young age — that they're not fine just as they are. If we may: The last thing the world needs are more girls who don't think they're good enough.
And as for Hannah Montana: It's not that Miley Cyrus isn't great and cute and talented and doesn't look fabulous in pink and blonde wigs and hasn't remained pretty much wholesome for young girls everywhere up to now. But we find her level of fame and wealth at just 15 years old frightening. Britney Spears was an ancient 17 when she came out with "Baby One More Time," and to say she did not weather her early 20s well is a gross understatement. Yet Cyrus's female fans seem to love her more than we remember Britney's loving her when she debuted. So what will Cyrus's fans want to dress and act like if she becomes sexy or drunk or druggy in five years and her fans are only 12?
The parent of that girl with the People magazine says of past primping parties her 8-year-old attended:
“Of course, it was alarming … But I’d rather my girls try it and decide they don’t need all these products to be beautiful, and then do something more vital with their time and money and efforts, like write a poem or take a walk or save the world.”
And why would they do that again? Is Miley Cyrus famous and loved for writing poetry and taking long walks on the beach? Of course not. No one would pay attention to her if that was, you know, her thing. We'd guess that this mother's choice to bring her girls to the salon for more primping parties isn't helping them decide they "don't need it" either.
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