Media Monday – From Make-Up To Waxing – Girls Growing Up Too Soon
“Growing up fast-tracked” was the provocative title of an article in the weekend newspaper. It was written in light of controversy sparked by a range of children’s deodorant being released in the UK. As discussion surrounding this topic followed, it became apparent that more and more parents are encouraging children (girls) to undergo adult beauty rituals such as using make-up, manicures, waxing and spray tans.
Although we can agree these procedures are unnecessary for children, not all parents agree that they are harmful.
As with everything written on MUMmedia, this isn’t about criticizing individual parenting choices. I have friends who allow their young girls to wax their legs because they have dark hair and I don’t judge them. This is about discussing a cultural trend and how this ‘trend’ impacts a child’s experience of childhood and their developing self-esteem and value system. MUMmedia is about analysing popular culture not individual preferences or parenting choices.
It is important to consider that cultural trends are driven by the fashion and beauty industry. These industries work toward creating insecurities in our children (and ourselves) in order to create a desire for their products. Advertising works by identifying a problem and then offering a solution. For example, in order to create a market for eyebrow waxes we need to first believe there is something wrong with bushy, misshapen eyebrows. Therefore, the problem is not the actual procedure of waxing but in the belief system that there is something wrong with us or our children that needs to be fixed.
When we realise how insidious advertising and marketing is within the beauty and fashion industry we are more inclined to reject the message they are trying to sell us about what is beautiful and where we should draw our worth.
Australian psychologist Steve Biddulph has said, “The current generation of girls is continually being bombarded with images that tell them how they are supposed to look. Not only that, but the range of what constitutes attractive appearance has grown narrower and more sexualised with each passing year!”.
In this article one parent said, “It’s just like playing dress-up and I think she is growing her identity through it” in regards to her 13 year old wearing high heels and make-up.
This is precisely what we DON’T want to happen – our children to develop their identity through the lens of popular culture. We DON’T want our child’s identity shaped by the desire for the right appearance or look, body shape or fashion.
“We don’t want to be feeding them (children) the message that they’re not good enough unless their legs and waxed and they’re wearing perfume,”
- Maria Passalaris (author of beautiful minds)
Childhood should be a time where children are free from the adult pressure to conform to the unrealistic, unattainable perception of beauty. As women and mothers, we should know better and spread our wings far and wide to shelter our little girls from what becomes potentially a life-time of insecurity and self-loathing.
Let’s not let our little girls grow up too soon!
advertising, beauty, beauty and fashion industry, childhood, Children, girls, make-up, marketing, parents, spray tans, waxing