The Feeding Doctor on Pinterest

“girly girl”

Posted by on Apr 25, 2011 in Blog Posts | 18 comments

This makes me crazy. We go to a nearby inflatable play area that is totally awesome. M and friends (or just M many times) bounce, run, jump, giggle, slide for two hours for $6. Last time she was practically drenched in sweat she was playing so hard. (BTW, I bounced with them for about three minutes in one of those bouncy houses, and I was whipped! So much fun…)

Anyway, this flier was sitting on the table:

They will come to your house (if you have a girl…) and give “Glamour” parties… Hair art, nails, face-painting, hair beading, makeovers, dancing, photo-shoots. Ugh. Why can’t the girls just have a party at the bouncy place like the boys, run around, not care how they look and just have fun?

I hate this pervasive glamorization, fetishizing spa/beauty treatments for little girls. It’s bad enough for us women, can’t we let our preschoolers have a little more time of innocence?  (I am at least relieved to see bikini waxing was not yet on the list…) Why can’t we just let them run around care-free, with ketchup stains and scabby knees? What need do we adults have that we fall for this? (Apparently folks are making a lot of money, Bratz dolls, makeup kits etc…)

Sad thing is, I think M might  enjoy it.What does that say?

Check out this crazy diagram of advertising  words that are aimed at boys and girls around toys. What kind of socializing are we doing here… for girls and boys…

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  1. Kirsten

    i don’t think there is any problem with little girls being intersted in makeup, dressing up, nail painting, playing ‘grown up’……like so many have said, it’s simply a case of imitation of what they see every day.

    But i think a party geared strictly towards this type of thing isn’t healthy. I mean, first of all–aren’t there any little boys invited to said birthday party? And if so, little boys want to join the Girly Girl Club? and if he does, is he not allowed to because he is a boy?

    I think have the facilities there to do the hair, makeup and nails thing, but also other things too. I know quite a few little girls who aren’t exactly tomboys, but just aren’t that interested in hair and makeup and whatnot. they love to just play, running around laughing giggling and getting dirty……all the while in their pink shorts and tops with glitter butterflies……

    I just think, give them a choice, you know?

    • katja

      right on… I just bought M a pink sparkly cell phone with makeup in it. She makes one eye pink, the other blue. So, I do get letting them play with it, but you hit the nail on the head when they are pushed into it with no other options and others are excluded…

  2. Trish

    As a little girl with an older sister, we (like others here) loved girlie stuff AND loved rough & tumble play with our boy cousins and neighbors. Most of the games and fun I remember as a kid was both my barbies & animals (typical girlie stuff) and the cops & robbers, cap guns, bows & arrows, and that ilk.
    Now as a parent of a toddler boy who is for the moment completely obsessed with trains (being exposed to all sorts of stuff but trains is what he always focuses on if left to his own devices) it *is* interesting to think about whatmight be “innate” vs. learned. I think it is impossible to know really given how pervasive mass culture is AND how subtly & unconsciously we as grownups may steer or influence our kids.
    All that said, I do have to say that IMO it is MUCH less acceptable for a boy to be into “girly” things than for a girl to be into boyish things. I think the J Crew ad furor encapsulates that nicely. Frankly, if the ad showed a girl playing with GI Joe or trains or dinos or transformers etc… and the mom (or dad) saying something about how they were glad they had a daughter who liked blue… would anyone care? I think, hardly not.
    And that, I think, is terribly sad. that is one way I think that boys really do have it worse than girls as far as being able to express all of their potential interests while still being socially accepted by their peers (and adults).

    • katja

      great points. Girls do have more freedoms in that regard. It is so hard to know nature vs nurture anymore, for sure!

  3. KellyK

    The activities themselves sound fun, but “Girly Girl Club”? Ick. I agree that there’s a fine line between encouraging girls to be themselves and devaluing things that are seen as feminine.

    I like the idea of giving girls a chance to play with hair, nails, and make-up without making a big deal of it, but also without implying that they aren’t sufficiently feminine if they don’t like those things.

    • katja

      I agree. It feels like a fine line. When I do workshops, I do put on a little mascara and color in my otherwise blonde eye-brows, so M naturally wants to put on make-up too. It’s such a strange balance… I just wish it wasn’t rammed down their throats so much.

  4. jaed

    I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here. I think things like this are a normal part of child’s play: wanting to Act Like a Grownup. Children will play at going to work, sitting in an office in front of a toy computer, doing construction, caring for “baby” dolls, etc., and this is completely normal and probably necessary for development, this modeling what they know of what grownups do.

    Little girls know that adult women often wear makeup, have their hair and nails done, etc. So naturally they’re curious and want to make it part of their play, and would like a party where this happens. It doesn’t usually have anything to do with caring how they look, at least when we’re talking about little girls – it has to do with doing something grownups do. I don’t see anything wrong with this.

    (I do see something wrong with it when it’s encouraged for older girls after the Official Age When You’re Supposed To Start Hating Your Body – which seems to get younger every decade. But even then, the real problem is the body-hating, not the part about learning how to wear makeup or playacting older than your age. If you got rid of the body anxiety part, tween girls would still want to do such things – they’d just have more fun at it.)

    Sad thing is, I think M might enjoy it.What does that say?

    Probably that she might like playing grownup and having a party – nothing bad about her or you, in other words!

    • katja

      yep, i wrote a little about that above. I think a whole party for painting nails etc seems so limiting. Maybe at the bouncy place, if a bunch of kids were having a party and if there was a table where kids could have their hair or nails done if they wanted (boys or girls, hey we can dream, can’t we??)
      You’re right. I’d just like to see a little more balance, a little less aggressive marketing.

  5. Michellers

    Scary, isn’t it? I have a 5-year-old “girly-girl” who is obsessed with makeup and dresses but also likes to play with the boys at school. My husband and I decided to let her have play makeup (not to wear at school but to play with at home) figuring that indulging her obsession would make it less interesting, which seems to be working. Kind of like with food, right? Don’t make desserts and candy or makeup more alluring by forbidding them.

    Loved the Jon Stewart reaction to JCrew.

    Here is another great resource:

  6. Kirsten

    When I was a little girls, I loved all that stuff, but I also loved playing in the dirt/mud with Matchbox cars and Tonka toys, and building stuff with Lincoln Logs and Lego. There were more boys than girls in my neighbourhood, and my sister and I were the only 2 girl cousins out of 20 until we were in our mid & late teens, respectively, so if you wanted someone to play with, it was the boys or an imaginary friend.

    So I grew up liking pink stuff, sequins, rhinestones and my mothers Mary Kay Complete Face Pallette (although we never had parties devoted to that kind of thing, closest thing being the occassional Barbie themed birthday party….), complete with bruised and scabby knees, knotty hair with leaves and twigs stuck in it, and competing with the boys to see who leave the longest locked-up-bicycle-brakes tire mark on the sidewalk.

    I’m all for little girls being girly if that’s their thing, or being tomboys if that’s their thing (preferably a healthy combination of the two) but I agree that parties like this are just abject sexualisation and creating unhealthy body & gender images. It’s too close to that whole Toddlers & Tiaras crap, which is, in my personal opinion, tantamount to child abuse.

  7. Kate S.

    I end up in a quandry with these things too. My daughter is quite “girly” loves wearing princess dresses and dancing and nail polish, but she is also wild and loves big movement activities. And I admit I would like it if their were more emphasis on girls playing rescue ranger and less on girls playing fashion model. BUT then I get to that place where I also dislike it that only gender neutral or “boyish” things have value and things that are inerently feminine are disdained – and what kind of message are we sending there? (I don’t have an answer for this, it is a quandry as I said.)

    One thing that worries me is that as cute as a spa for little girls might be – what are we leaving to be special when they are grown, we seem to rush them towards teenagehood.

    • Anne

      “BUT then I get to that place where I also dislike it that only gender neutral or “boyish” things have value and things that are inherently feminine are disdained – and what kind of message are we sending there? ”

      This is a really good point. I don’t have any girls, but a lot of my friends do – and a few of them are very anti-princess, pink, etc. and I often wonder that same thing. Are we replacing one message with another possibly just as harmful?

      • katja

        I’ve tried not to be anti-anything, I didn’t introduce princesses, but when she discovered them at a neighbors, I also followed her interests. It’s interesting that make-up and beauty are considered “inherently” feminine. How do we decide what is “feminine” or not?

  8. Kristy

    When I was a little girl, I would have loathed the things that are listed in that ad (Who am I kidding? I still loathe most of them as an adult!). What does it mean if you are a girl who doesn’t like those “girly girl” things? Is your “girlness” somehow called into question as though yours isn’t as valid or is less than?

    Sheesh! This sort of thing just puts me on edge and still makes me feel as though my own femininity is being questioned.

  9. katja

    I thought that diagram was really cool! Have you seen the whole hoopla about the Jcrew ad with the boy with pink toenails? I will post the link to Jon Stewart’s hilarious response on my facebook Family Feeding Dynamics page…
    It’s all pretty ridiculous. Why put kids in skulls? For the kids? Why would a 2 year old enjoy getting her eyebrows done? What does that even mean?

    • Anne

      That Jon Stewart response is fantastic – thanks for posting it! I had heard about that and rolled my eyes, because heaven forbid a Mom spend quality time with her son and not be rolling him in mud or making him tune up the car engine 🙂

  10. Anne

    That diagram is so telling, but I wish I was surprised. Ever since my son moved out of little kid sizes his clothing choices seem to be skate rat, skulls or street thug. And his favorite color is pink – so we’re always banging up against that gender stereotyping.

    Also – a mom’s group I belong to was talking about these spa parties for girls (one of the women had asked for party suggestions) and someone mentioned a two year old who “loves” getting her eyebrows and nails “done”. I suspect it’s less the two year old that loves it as the parent…