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Culture Lust by Angela Carone

Kiddie Mani-Pedis

How disturbing is this article from The New York Times?  Seven and three-year-olds getting pedicures, thumbing through People, putting on MAC make-up which, by the way, is very expensive.  I didn't start having pedicures until my late twenties.  When I was seven and running around Florida beaches, my toes were for elaborate sandprints.  And at three, well, at three is was all about "this little piggy games," not "Jungle Red" or "Passion Pink."  And let me make a distinction here, I'm not saying that glittered kiddie toenail polish is a bad thing.  I'm saying that actual child pedicures and group pedicure outings involving OPI and heated whirlpools is going to far.

This excerpt only confirms a trend well underway: 

But today, cosmetic companies and retailers increasingly aim their sophisticated products and service packages squarely at 6- to 9-year-olds, who are being transformed into savvy beauty consumers before they’re out of elementary school.

“The starter market has definitely grown, I think, due to a number of cultural influences,” said Samantha Skey, the senior vice president for strategic marketing of Alloy Media and Marketing.
Other trends laid out in the article have left me agog:

Sweet & Sassy, a salon and party destination based in Texas for girls 5 to 11, includes pink limo service as a party add-on, which starts at $150 a ride. And Dashing Diva franchises often offer virgin Cosmos in martini glasses along with their extra-virgin nail polish, free of a group of chemicals called phthalates, for a round of services for a birthday girl and her friends.

Now, it seems to me that a fair amount of child's play is about mimicing adult behavior and experience, like the easy bake oven (do they still make these?), baby dolls, doctor kits, playing school, etc.  But why would you construct play experience around adult consumer-driven behavior?  And worse, adult forms of partying, letting loose, and physical adornment?  For me and I suspect for many of my friends, pedicures are about many things:  luxury, maintenance, reward, and, it can't be denied, sexuality.  These are not the concerns of a 7-year-old unless we make them so.

Looking back, I wouldn't have wanted to be so conscious of my body at age seven.  The psychological weight of such body consciousness would have distracted my growing mind and curiousity.   I'll admit my imaginative play sometimes involved a pink Barbie corvette (which I put tons of stickers on) but it never included a ride in one.  

February 28, 2008 at 07:34 PM
Although my girls will be getting no limo rides or cosmos, we've promised our eldest a mani if she'll stop sucking her thumb. The promise is a year old... still no painted nails.

aaryn b. from the fantastic, aweome WOOHOODUDES! college area
March 03, 2008 at 01:16 AM
Does it count if you just take them to pick out pink and purple polish and have the nice lady with the steady hand put it on? Am I still a jackass? Does it mean my daughter's gonna go for a cruise in the corvette (of all cars! ewww!)? Cuz if so? I totally didn't take my pre-three year old to have her toes painted for the first time today...


Just Jamie from San Diego
June 03, 2008 at 09:28 PM
I echo your sentiments exactly. We just had our first taste of such a party, for ... a FOUR year old. I blogged about it in a defeated sort of way. I guess I wasn't expecting such luxurious nonsense until the teenage years, but I forgot ... this is Southern California.

Jonty Bai from Canada
March 28, 2009 at 10:19 AM
What is the issue if teenage girl doing pedicures in her early age..?? Is this harmful to society or other people.? Teenage girl doing some illegal offense against the society.? Are they killing people ?? Why not you discuss about teenage boys buy a gun and shoot at school on innocent student..??? Forget pedicures...they are not harm anybody at all... CodVenture