Moms Talk: Acrylic Nails, Hair Color and Kids
We’ve discussed the inappropriately adult-like clothing marketed to young girls in this column in the past, but this week we’re discussing the alarming sight of very young girls sporting acrylic nails, hair color and heavy makeup.
Last night I was in the grocery store, and I dropped a handful of change on the floor. A little girl who was maybe 7 or 8 scrambled to help me pick it up. Her mother was laughing, but I wasn’t paying much attention.
Then her mom said, “She can barely pick it up with her nails! Look!” I glanced over, and the little girl was scrabbling to lift a quarter off the floor with her royal blue, rhinestone-encrusted acrylic nails that extended at least an inch from her fingertips.
Here's a visual aid. Just imagine these on the hands of a third grader.
I managed to squeak out a thank you to the little girl as she dropped the change in my hand, but I stared after that family as they walked away, trying to wrap my head around what I’d just seen. She had on a cute little sundress with a messy ponytail and a few missing teeth. Just a sweet little girl-- with dragon lady nails.
I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Pre-teen girls cruising the mall with tiny purses and loads of makeup on their faces, young kids with obviously salon-acquired highlights in their hair and kindergarten students wearing giant hoop earrings and high-heeled sandals.
It bothers me. Does it bother you?
I understand little girls wanting to dress and behave like grownups. I spent hours in my grandmother’s closet when I was young, trying on high heels and elaborate jewelry and fur. My own daughter used to play with my makeup and clothes. But that’s just it. It was play. She certainly didn’t wear it to the mall or to her third-grade classroom.
I blame it on a culture that is increasingly sending the message to young girls that they have to look just right to be admired. I mean, take a look around the “girl” section of a toy store sometime. Ever seen Bratz dolls? How’s that for giving the idea of smart, capable femininity a slap in the face?
Maybe I’m a prude, but I have this idyllic notion that little girls should look and behave like they just stepped off the Little House on the Prairie set until they hit their teens. Modest dress, fresh faces and flat shoes, for the win!
Childhood is fleeting, and it’s a time to focus on learning and growing and having fun. Not matching lipstick to your favorite pumps.
Girls should have time to grow and learn and be comfortable in their own skin before they start covering it up with cosmetics.
Makeup and dangly earrings and high heels are kind of a rite of passage for girls, marking stages in life. All these things can be introduced gradually, as a little girl becomes a young woman. Letting them have at it in elementary school robs them of feeling special when they’re in middle school and are allowed to wear a little makeup to a party for the first time.
And if I’m being perfectly honest, letting little girls wear all that stuff makes them look like tiny hoochie mamas.
What do you think, moms? What’s too much, too soon? When is it appropriate for a young girl to wear makeup? Heels? Have her hair colored?