Are Girls Too Image Conscious?

teen-girl-beauty-image.pngI recently discovered Sweet and and, was at first, a little horrified to see (what looks like 5 year-old) girls putting on lots of make-up, celebrating expensive clothes and fashion–materialism at its greatest! Sweet and Sassy is a salon that hosts birthday parties for girls. It seems that teen, tween and really young girls are becoming super body conscious.

Even though I scoffed at Sweet and Sassy off the bat and began to write a post about the downfall of girl’s self-esteem, I started to think about it and realized that the Glamour party culture and ideals might be better than the alternatives.

Lets review the pros and cons of the sweet and sassy culture and message:


  • It glamorizes the fashion industry. Models often have eating disorders and extremely skewed ideas about their bodies and beauty.
  • It puts outer beauty above inner beauty.
  • It promotes the idea that you need money to buy clothes and make-up.
  • It underplays natural beauty and being beautiful without having to wear make-up or get your hair done.
  • It can promote gossip about other kids who do not have the money, looks, parents to have an ‘ideal look.’
  • It can promote Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Anorexia, Bulimia, Compulsive Exercising or other eating and body issues so girls can maintain the ideal.

Yes, there are a lot of cons. I believe that if we can balance beauty related activities with activities that emphasize intelligence, creativity and inner beauty, they can have the following positive effects.

Pros and ways to balance:

  • It’s Supervised: I support the Sweet and Sassy birthday party culture because at least girls are experimenting with beauty and make-up with some parental supervision. If you take away these activities, they go underground and become ‘off-limits’ and exciting. When you forbid it, or make it ‘bad,’ simple playing with lipstick and a curling iron turns into secret gothic attire and make-up.
  • It’s better than the alternative: Girls are starting to experiment with drugs, alcohol and boys earlier and earlier. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have my sisters having a glamour party than a house party.
  • It’s Girl Bonding: Yes, it can cause catty-ness and gossip, but beauty related activities are perfect for girl time bonding and can make friendships closer and stronger.
  • It’s Mom-Daughter Bonding: My mom took me to get my first foundation when I was pretty young, but it is a great memory and it did not ‘encourage’ me to always wear make-up, but instead felt fun and grown-up and made me feel closer, and more like my mom. I think it was better for me to want to be more like my mom, than the women in the magazines (if she hadn’t of taken me, that’s what would have happened).
  • Opportunity to Talk: So you have a glamour party, or buy your daughter some make-up. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about body image, self-esteem, and eating disorders and not make it feel like a lecture.

I do think image obsessed girls are becoming more and more prominent and there is an increased interest in beauty and superficiality in teen girls. But I do think that balancing the activities involving primping, shopping or outer beauty with activities and discussions that encourage inner beauty and strength is even more important than banning or doing away with image conscious activities.

Yesterday, this article was posted that found:

“A survey by GfK NOP for the Children’s Society showed that out of the 1,225 adults questioned, 89 percent felt that children are more materialistic now than in previous generations.

Evidence submitted to the inquiry from children themselves suggests that they do feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends, the society added.”

We have to work together to balance these feelings of pressure and show youths that materialism and image is as important as what is on the inside.


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10 Responses to “Are Girls Too Image Conscious?”

  1. Katy
    February 28, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    I just can’t understand parents who push their little girls to be so conscious of what they wear and how they look!

  2. Kristen
    February 28, 2008 at 6:21 pm #

    This is almost a family culture issue; some parents would never in a million years do a “sweet and sassy” party, while for others it would be just the thing that their daughters would want most in the world, and fun for them. I think that as long as it stays an “occasion” thing, and doesn’t bubble over into an everyday obsession, there’s no harm. Kind of like dress up, taken to an extreme for a special occasion.

  3. Vanessa
    February 28, 2008 at 9:51 pm #

    absolutely true, some girls have no interest in these kinds of parties at all!

  4. Reach For The Stars
    February 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    I just really feel like kids are trying to grow up to fast these days. My 8 year old wants to wear makeup, wants name brands, wants cell phones, ipods, computers and all this grown up stuff. I just want her to be a little girl.

  5. Maggie
    February 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    oh, I know! mine too. I nearly died when she asked to ‘highlights’ her hair at 10. I don’t even think she realized it wasn’t done with a highlighter marker. Unfortunately, they think all of the grown up stuff is cool. I did to, at that age, but somehow it all seemed less threatening.

  6. Vicki
    April 28, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    I’m a parent of a young girl who is about to have a birthday. I looked into having a birthday party at Sweet and Sassy. First of all the price is outrageous! At least for the one in Omaha. What really turned me off was that I talked with a girl on the phone that was on the snotty side. I mentioned that her manager should know that they are posting one price on the internet and giving out another price over the phone. She stated that she was the manager and that it was a franchise and they all charged what they wanted to. It wasn’t so much her answer as her tone and snottiness. It brought back memories of when I was a teenager and some of the snotty girls from back then. It was a wake up call and I wouldn’t have a Birthday party there for my daughter even if someone offered to pay for it.

  7. Vanessa
    April 28, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    ew. I really really do not like snotty people at all. I also think it is crazy to list prices at all on the website if it is a ‘franchise and everyone charges what they want’ do not give them your business and do an at home spa day instead.

  8. Jolene
    May 13, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    My girls were treated to a day at Sweet and Sassy recently, and while one part of me fears that it may encourage emphasis on outward beauty and glamour, I can see where it can be a good thing too. Like someone else mentioned, you need to look at it as playing “dress-up.” My 12 & 10 year olds were thrilled with the whole experience (beginning with being picked up in a hot pink limo) — but the key is that it was an out of the ordinary experience. Also, I think it’s important to note that SAS also incorporates workshops on skin care, nutrition, self-esteem, manners, etc into their programs. I am much more concerned about the kids who are constantly playing virtual reality games that are violent and/or sexual in nature. These are the kids who will be a harm to society later, not the ones who are applying lip gloss.

  9. virtual worlds for kids
    April 14, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    this kind of problem happens to me once when i was a kid.. But i think as a kid, you can always say no if you think that it doesnt suits you well. That’s what happened to me, so I stick with my own style where i feel more comfortable with it. All I need to do just give a good reason to the parents..

  10. chickencheese
    November 12, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I’m 13, and I only recently became really interested in fashion. I never wear makeup, I don’t want to and we’re not allowed it at school anyway. I’ve read a lot about adults who are worried about children and teens being under pressure to look like celebrities, have boyfriends etc. I don’t think it’s something to worry about- sure there are teens who do silly things- get drunk, film each other doing things they shouldn’t etc, but there have always been people like that, surely. Me and friends care about how we look; my friend’s ten-year old sister has a boyfriend. Most adults probably think it’s silly, but we’re all happy with how we are, and we’re not harming anybody. We all know the dangers of drugs, alcohol, trying to look like celebrities- that’s what PSHEE lessons are for! Adults are worried about us being influenced by TV and internet- well, all I’ve seen is people doing silly things and facing the consequences; I found out what these things were, and found out they weren’t good!

    We are clever enough to say no to things we aren’t happy doing, and we know the dangers of doing silly things. Adults only need to worry about specific people who CHOOSE to do these things.

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