The Lost Girls: A Generation of Little Women Growing Up Too Fast
Grown women are waging a war on girlhood. Gone are the days of styling Barbie hair and baking cookies in your Easy Bake oven. Now little girls are clicking away with lacquered nails on the keys of the latest cell phone and fussing in the mirror with lip gloss and mascara. No more playing dress up in mom’s high heels and sultry dresses. Now sex appeal comes in size 6-14. Little girls are growing up way too fast. They are womanish, but not mature; the distinction between the two is immensely significant.
Maturity is a matter of understanding responsibility, grasping life lessons, and handling situations gracefully and wisely. A girl who is womanish has the appearance of a woman, in dress and manner, but she is really just a lost child. We are facing a generation of Lost Girls, but unlike Peter Pan’s companions, these girls are desperate to grow up long before they need to.
From the toys and clothes marketed to these impressionable girls, to the “role models” picked out by the media, the pressure on young girls today is incredible, it’s everywhere, and it’s doing damage. Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child and teen development specialist writes, “Even our daughter’s clothes and favourite dolls and toys are getting a boost, a lift, a pout, and a “push” to grow up sooner and sexier than ever before . You just have to wonder, are the retailers kidding?
Apparently not. On my sister’s eleventh birthday she requested a crop top. I was shocked that she wanted such a provocative piece of clothing , and a little pissed that Justice, “a virtual clothing candy store for the smallest Fashionista” (according to their website) carried crop tops as well as bikini tops and press on fingernails. What the hell does a girl between the ages of 6 and 14 need a French tip manicure for anyway?
I left Justice $25 poorer and with an ill feeling. It wasn’t the sickly sweet smell of their signature scent or the glare of garish colours and far too many sequins. I was weighted by the sinking feeling that little girls today and our future seem doomed to inescapable insecurity brought on and perpetuated by a market that is selling them an ideal of beauty and promoting an image of sexiness before they get their first training bras.
While I agree that retailers have just about lost their money-centred minds, selling makeup and bustiers to teenyboppers, I have to question the judgment of the parents who buy these things for their daughters. There would be no supply if there wasn’t a demand, that’s a fairly basic rule of economics. Who is responsible for the deterioration of girlhood: the ones who sell the products and ideals or the parents who help their kids buy into it?
These are popular trends for the contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras...and Playboy models. There is nothing right with this picture.
Case in point, TLC’s hit show (a hit for reasons I am still unable to comprehend) Toddlers and Tiaras. Mothers dress their children in provocative little outfits and teach them to prance and preen for a panel of miserable looking judges in hopes that they would be crowned a pageant winner. And while these pageants have been around for decades, the competition of today has crossed all sorts of boundaries.
It isn't enough to be cute anymore. Today's Grand Supreme pageant princesses border on plastic. I have watched enough episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras to be traumatized by the plucking, tanning, combing, waxing, tweezing and general torture these poor little girls endure at the hands of their parents. But what appals me most, even more than the atrocious attitudes these little girls have (after all, it isn’t hard to see where they get them), are the tears some of those girls shed when they get fed up with the falsified glamour and preening and parading. It breaks my heart to see a little girl lose the battle with her mother to just be a kid.
Generations of little girls in the past got a chance to experience girlhood for what it really should be—a learning experience, a freedom to be wild and careless, a chance to long after womanhood but still enjoy all the perks of being a kid. It saddens me to know that women who got to enjoy being little girls are robbing today’s little ladies of the opportunity to do the same for something as petty as financial gain and thinly-veiled selfish ambition.