My step-daughter Julia was here last week for half term. She is fourteen and I thought that she was old enough to come along with me for a manicure and a pedicure. We eased into our comfy chairs feeling jolly pleased with ourselves. Then I spotted her. A girl who could have been no more than seven years old having her nails painted a glittering silver colour.
“What on earth is that child doing here?” I asked my manicurist.
“Oh her,” she said, glancing over her shoulder, “she comes every week.”
Apparently lots of them come every week, especially when they have a party to go to at the weekend. They come with or without their mothers and they have their little fingers and their little toes done and then go off for more I assume; facials, hair extensions, belly-button piercing, massages…..
Is this normal behaviour I ask myself? I wasn’t allowed to have my ears pierced until I was sixteen. I didn’t even know about lip liner until last year. Call me old-fashioned, but does a seven-year-old really NEED perfect nails?
I am going to write a feature on the topic so would love your views, experiences, comments etc. Is it just harmless fun or is it deeply disturbing to see little girls dolled up? Is it industry driven or can we blame the likes of Hannah Montana? Should Olivia and Bea have a manicure and join the crowd, or should they remain natural?
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008
I think it’s deeply disturbing. Little girls should remain natural and should not feel under pressure to get dolled up. Take the negative example of Boris Becker’s daughter (google Anna Ermakova -you’ll see what I mean).
Natural is beautiful. Let girls be girls and keep them away from all the pressure to be what marketers want to sell!!
Well, most little girls love getting dolled up and putting on Mum’s
stilettos and make-up and making an entrance and everyone goes ‘Oh my God’ but now the attitude to take it all so seriously
is sad – and what about the clothes to go with the glittery nail
polish? What’s left to look forward to when they grow up except
more of the same? All this competitive parenting robs kids of their childhood just so their parents can show the world ‘WE CAN’
I can understand that kids want to be grown-up and that’s why certain behaviour is copied. Unlike smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, having a manicure is probably harmless and I suppose that it is easy for parents to say “Oh let’s give in to this – it’s perfectly harmless”.
However, the whole point of this behaviour being “grown up” behaviour is that it’s done by grown ups who understand the wider implications of what happens when you wear make-up/certain clothes/smoke cigarettes. I’m not equating make up with cigarettes, but I do think that some behaviour should be kept out of children’s hands until they (should?) can understand what the consequences are.
I made my daughters wait until they were 14 before they were allowed to have their ears pierced. In fact one of them chose not to have them done when told that she could. (She had passed the stage of wanting them done!) I notice many young girls dressing too old for their ages and although I understand the ‘fashion’ I really think there are dangers associated with ‘sexualising’ these youngsters way before their time.
It’s a little scary that here in France, at the last few 6-year old birthday parties I’ve been to with my daughter, the biggest hit has been the ‘make up’ counter.
My girls are always asking me to paint their toe nails (fingernails not an option), but to let them go down to the manicure parlor on their own, hmmm, not sure about that one.
This jars with me for a few reasons- Who pays for it?, What kind of pattern is this setting/instilling?, Are all her friends doing it?.
Maybe she’s a child hand model? I guess we should be relieved she wasn’t getting a full set of acrylics….
to Helena: who’s Hannah Montana anyway?
to Hazel: I am at a rather advanced age when guessing a woman’s age is extremely perilous as I notice many oldish girls dressing too young for their ages
Hello Jacques – Hannah Montana is an American TV show, I think she is a secret pop star or something. She is prettty dreary but my girls are crazy about her. I can only console myself with the fact that I used to be mad about the Bay City Rollers and am not any more.
Rachelle – why do you think the make-up counter is so popular? Because they want to be like their mothers/older sisters/idols? Or because they want to be pretty? Or is it the novelty of it?
Who is this Jacques? has he heard of Brigitte Bardot?
here in florida we have age specific spa’s and beauty salons for girls 6-13 they are a big draw for bithday parties
I only get a mani/pedi when I ‘m in the states and I’ve often thought about taking my 6 year old with me, for a mani only, as a kind of mother-daughter bonding moment but for some undefined reason, have never followed through. I do have a friend who has taken her now 8 year old for years to have manicures. She’s the same friend who told me once when I was contemplating botox that one plastic surgury leads to another, ‘after botox it’ll be lipo. The next thing you’ll look like a younger version of Joan Rivers.’
As it’s vacation time for the girls, yesterday, upon their request, I painted their finger nails and toe nails. I let them choose the color – hot pink of course.
Manicures don’t seem sexual or overly adult to me, especially when the color chosen is a sparkly silver.
Wearing makeup is a different story, I think, unless you’re just letting your kids play around with it.
I have really fair skin, but my mom’s Native American, so she has a darker skin tone. I remember getting into her foundation and making my whole face look orange. It was horrible, but I thought I was GORGEOUS.
There’s more to makeup than just makeup. How it’s presented is what matters, the attitudes surrounding it, etc.
Unfortunately Mothers are sending the WRONG messages to their daughters at far too young an age. It is my observation from going through the childrens clothing department at a large department store. Should we really be encouraging our daughters to dress like Brittany Spears? Children should be allowed to be children for as long as is possible. Mothers should also be encouraging their daughters to develope their intellect and mores rather than just their looks. Setting age appropriate behavioral goals for their daughters developement is a parent’s job. Beauty is an arbitrary objective. That’s just my opinion but it is what I would want for my great-niece.
Jacques raises a rather interesting point as he too has noticed that the make-up and fashion obsession thing exists at both ends of the scale of lunacy.
La Contesse du Beurrier, or Lady Butter Dish as you know her, Is a prime example. She is 62 and has just had her belly button pierced. This, along with the inch long nails, some with small rings and bells attached, nose and boob jobs, wigs and war paint and those ridiculous clothes, 5 inch heels and ankle and tummy chains… She could not be thought of as growing old gracefully. But she’s a sweetheart, and I love her for it. She told me last week that she wants to be the first topless corpse.
As for the kids, my own daughter at 18 months demanded earrings – we were often in Spain in those days and all little Spanish girls wore them from birth. I held her as the jeweler put the pistol to her ears and she screamed the place down. For a month she hid from me. My son decided he wanted an earring when he was 9; all the other boys on the soccer team had them. He chose a swastika, but I refused. The little gold stud lasted about 6 months and he has never worn one since. But I suppose it’s better to let them have one at 9 rather having them come home with one when they are 19. My daughter secretly had her belly button pierced when she was 19, I do wish she had asked me first, I wouldn’t have said “no”.
I’ve seen a 8 years old girl wearing string underwear, with make up, like mumy, I was really scared… Let them be their age, play with dolls or whatever
when I was this age, of course I played with my mom make-up (looked like a clown but anyway) but she would never have let me go out with make up or nail polish,
A bit of make up for a birthday party or new year eve, that’s all.
And I survive well
when I was 14, I wanted to dye my hair, my mom showed me the cellar door saying “if you do that , it’s where you gonna sleep”…
I was 22 and 23 when I did my piercings, I didn’t ask for permission because I was leaving on my own but even if it was something I wanted for a very long time, at least I had time to really think about it.
of course, everything changes, but I can’t understand parents who want to have a younger copy of themselves.
what about enjoying childhood, being “stress-free”, they’ll have to grow up and pay attention to all this kind of stuff..
(and please, I don’t know if your daughters already have earrings, but if not , PLEASE don’t go to the jeweller , the pistol is the worse thing ever(you can’t sterilize it, and it damages the tissus) , go to a professionnal piercer.
It will be more expensive but at least it’ll be well made.)
My – you seem to have touched several chords with your female readers.
Having had 2 two wives, 3 daughters and 4 granddaughters I know absolutely nothing of course.
For Heaven’s sake – play painting faces, dressing up etc., but at home with your children, and others if you like. They love dressing up & painting various parts of their anatomy – all good fun and quite harmless. Just don’t drag them off to spas, beauty salons etc; that’s for much later. They are not adults. It’s an error to treat them as such.
Would I want to take a young son to a Turkish bath house for a steam massage? I might spray him with the garden hose at home.
It’s raining in France and turning cold, Arthur B.
I think it is deeply disturbing too.
In today’s society where there are so many noises sending our children mixed messages, and making these “sponge” learners confused, I think parents play the most critical part in a child’s growth. Not just feeding them and sending them to school, but more important, getting to understand your children, getting involved in their lives, in their mental and psychological growth.
But in a two-income families, where both parents work, maybe the children nowdays are more neglected?
Arthur B for President! The first voice of reason I have read on this blog. Personally I yearn for the golden age when children were profitably employed as chimney sweeps or pickpockets!
I hate it! I’ve noticed how many mothers are dressing their small girls in rock star t-shirts and outfits similar to theirs. I really like smalll children to be dressed as children, not with Groupie and other slogans on their t-shirts. I do see it as a form of child abuse and also the pathetic parents wanting to look cool and trendy. Don’t get me started on children wearing nail polish etc. I will go along with ear-rings as some cultures do like to pierce them young but that’s about my comfort level. My daughter is dressed as a three year old should be and I think she looks adorable. A woman stopped me on the street and said, ‘I love it! I used to dress my daughter like that all the time and now she’s grown up she’s become a goth, so make the most of it.” There’s enough time for them to be adults – let them be children. When my daughter is old enough she can express herself and be what she wants but for now she’s my big doll and I want her to look like a little girl.