I remember when I was a young girl in high school I hated so many things about myself. I hated my thick glasses that made me look like I was wearing Coke bottles on my face. I hated my hair because, although hairdressers loved its thickness, for me it just made it hard to do anything nice with it because at that age I possessed an ineptitude with anything that could be called styling; as a result, I had bushy hair. I didn’t hate my entire body but I wondered why I couldn’t have a little more cleavage, dammit. I was self-conscious about my teeth because my incisors were more prominent than the rest of them (actually, I’m still self-conscious about that).
In other words, I was a fairly typical teenage girl. Just about the only problem I didn’t have was an eating disorder because I was always thin. But I had all those other things, plus a horrible sense of fashion, an uncertainty about makeup (though that never stopped me from wearing it, which was probably unfortunate, what with all that blue eyeshadow and metallic pink lipstick that was “in” back then), and a burning need – like so many girls that age – to fit in, to cave to peer pressure, to follow all the trends so I could be as “cool” as everyone else.
I know this is one of the things lying ahead of me as the mother of two girls, having two beautiful girls who should have all the self-confidence in the world and who may not, no matter how much we both try to instill it in them. Look at the world around young girls – they see women on TV and in movies who are the size of a toothpick and they talk to magazines about what diet they follow or how many hours they work with a personal trainer. People call Jennifer Love Hewitt, a girl with a very normal and nice body (and awesome rack) fat after seeing her in an unflattering pose in a bikini when she was in a private moment – fat. FAT. If people think she’s fat just because she isn’t a stick figure with a bobble head, what do you suppose young girls think? Every few years, an article is released mentioning that eating disorders are hitting girls younger and younger. It’s disgusting.
And THEN I read this article called Why 10 is too young for your first Brazilian where it mentions that Nair released a special line of hair removal products which is ranged at girls age 10 to 15. Why? Why are girls as young as ten being encouraged to use a chemical to melt the hair off their legs and bikini lines? But that’s not the worst part.
Now an Australian website, girl.com.au has a big feature about Brazilian waxes – and in case you don’t know what that is, it’s when hot wax is used to rip off every inch of hair from a woman’s private region. Every hair. And the site is read by girls in the age nine to 14 range. On top of that, the site promotes the Brazilian with this phrase: “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal.”
IT HAS A CHILDLIKE APPEAL?
Jesus Christ. Is this what the media is teaching our girls? That no matter how much we tell them they’re beautiful, smart, funny, brilliant, wonderful, perfect, incredible, they’re never going to be anything unless they’re thinner, completely hairless for the sake of appealing to some sort of misogynist world, everything an advertiser says they need to be? Take your nine-year-old, toss her a bottle of Nair, give her a belly shirt and some spike heels, and there you go.
You know what? When I was nine, I was wearing jeans and flannel shirts that were dirty because I was out in the backyard, digging up dirt with my Tonka Trucks. I thought boys were cute but I was too busy riding my bike just a little further than I was really allowed to bother dressing myself up for one. I liked to put on my grandmother’s bright red lipstick, pale face powder, and clip-on sparkly earrings for fun, but then I washed it off so I could run outside to play hide and seek or a rousing game of tag.
I don’t want my daughters to live any differently. I want them to play and laugh and be the goddamn children that they are, not some miniature version of a sexed-up woman as described by magazines, and television shows, and websites that don’t see anything wrong with pushing a Brazilian wax job on pre-pubescent girls. For God’s sake, the article incredulously mentions fashion magazines “for five and six-year-olds that tell them how to look hot and find a boyfriend. There are pole-dancing classes for children.” What?! Since when is this all normal? Since when is childhood no longer a special and precious time that should be enjoyed and is now ignored in favor of little children acting like they’re on the latest “Girls Gone Wild” video?
The end of the article says this:
Encourage them to be children, just for a little while longer. And don’t worry. They’ll have plenty of time to learn to hate themselves when they get older.
And it makes me cry because what type of future are our young girls facing?
I’m angry. Are you angry? Then speak up.