Just when we think that youngsters are maturing faster than usual nowadays, big-box giant Wal*Mart is adding a new Geo Girl make-up line to its shelves - aimed toward girls aged eight to twelve. The new brand will include blusher, mascara, face shimmer and lipstick, along with anti-aging products, and will be released in stores March 2011.
The question is: why would an eight to twelve-year-old need anti-aging products, or even cosmetics at all, "mother approved" or not? I can't help but wonder what the marketing team at Wal*Mart were thinking when they developed such an idea. While "play" cosmetics have been around for as long as I remember, and there were the days some little girls dipped into their mother's make-up as part of "dressing up," manufacturing 'authentic' products at such young age demographics is only part of sending out the wrong message to today's girls.
More important, what kind of mother would buy this product for their daughters? My own mother wouldn't even think of letting me use make-up until I was thirteen, and only then, it was just lip gloss until I reached high school.
Some dermatologists expressed disapproval with the coming Geo Girl make-up line, stating that if the cosmetics aren't properly washed from the face, acne can result. Most parents are well aware how much a struggle it can be to get their youngsters into the bathtub at night, so the concern of preventing future skin problems as the result of not being taught the proper use and removal of make-up is valid.
Make-up for little girls, along with child beauty pageants and clothing lines based on everything from TV characters to pop stars, have attracted criticism for contributing to the over-sexualization of youngsters. Some mothers have gone as part as put their children (as young as seven) on diet pills - even if the child wasn't overweight by health standards.It appears that the days when eight-year-olds wore cartoon character T-shirts and jeans as they played softball or with Barbies, caught fireflies in a jar and chased the ice cream truck are long gone.
What is the hurry to grow up? Is it now unacceptable to just enjoy one's childhood? Why it is important to have little girls don short dresses, tube tops, short shorts, fake tattoos, and wear make-up before they reach adolescence? Instead of telling our daughters to discover their strengths and be themselves, it's more important to have an oversexualized appearance because the media or a major retailer says it's okay?
Even on social network sites such as Facebook, I can't express how aghast I am when I see girls as young as eleven heavily made up and exposing cleavages in their profile pictures. With the never-ending danger of pedophiles wandering such sites, I can't help but fear for the safety of these girls and the message they're sending, intended or not. Surely, they have a safer and more positive way of drawing attention to themselves.
I know things have changed since most of us were in the eight to twelve-year-old age bracket, but even with our own busy lives, once in a while, it won't hurt to sit down with our children and tell them that everything they read, see on TV or the Internet, or even the messages stated in their favorite music doesn't mean they have to grow up right now.
Teach them to enjoy their childhoods, that liking Barbie, playing Little League, and earning straight A's are perfectly normal. Wearing make-up and a tight dress at age nine won't get them into Harvard when they're eighteen, but those A's might. Playing Little League may not get them into the major leagues when they're older, but neither will wearing saggy pants and fake "bling bling" when they're ten.
Childhood comes only once in life. Isn't it time we went back to having kids enjoy it? There's plenty of time to grow up.