I recently discovered Sweet and Sassy.com 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.