For a child to be a child.. Post 12

..seems to be almost impossible..

Sandhya and Monika shared this link on Facebook, and I had to add my two cents. Apparently, a mother gave her 8 year old daughter Botox, apart from treatments like waxing her legs. All for a beauty pageant.

I can’t help wonder what motivates mothers(or parents) to even think of such treatments for a child. How can a parent be obsessed by the way their child looks? How can a beauty pageant be so important that their child needs to go through such ‘treatments’ to compete?  In the link, the child talks about having Botox to get rid of ‘wrinkles’. Wrinkles? On an 8 yr old child? What, how? I mean, I am running out of words here.

Here I flinch when I take my daughter for her regular immunizations, which, I know, is no comparison, but how could a mother inject her child with Botox for purely cosmetic reasons? What is most saddening and horrifying for me, is that the little girl believed that she has wrinkles! And that it is ‘unladylike’ for a girl to have hair on her body! This is an 8 year old talking, by the way, just in case we forget, in the face of all these adult treatments.

Why are we robbing our children on their childhood? While most parents would not go to the extreme of Botox or waxing, but the emphasis on beauty and looks is pretty much there. I was in a beauty saloon about 6 years ago, in Bangalore. I was pregnant with daughter at that time. While I was getting my hair cut, there was this little girl, not more than 4 or 5 years old, who had professional make-up applied on her. They were on their way to a wedding, and the little girl was delighted with her make-up.  She looked horrendous with adult make-up and lipstick on her, in my opinion, but people were cooing on her and telling her that she looked like a movie-star.If only I could have given them a piece of my mind. The staff of the saloon told me that it is routine. Parents get their children to have make-up applied, hair straightened, curled, set, the works. Now, I see people I know, doing the same. My little girl is curious about make-up too, but I am careful not to glamourise it, and thankfully, apart from the cursory look at what I am upto, she is not really bothered. And I would have it no other way.

It is not just about makeup either. Some of my daughter’s friends have shoes with heels. They wear delicate shoes, with straps, and bows and all sorts of things, which just about allows them to stand without tripping over. What happened to sensible shoes? Sandals which allows them to be children? I might be considered an ‘unfashionable’ mother, but I much rather have my child playing, running and doing everything she wants to rather than wear ‘fashionable’ shoes and get shoe-bitten or just stand in a corner. No wonder the boys seem more active, because they are dressed appropriately. When on holiday, I just take sturdy, sensible shoes for her. Yes, she might not change shoes with every outfit, but at least she is able to walk miles, and not have shoe bites, and aching feet.

I have heard new-born babies being lauded as ‘She will be a Miss Universe’. A woman’s need for beauty is stated right from the beginning of her life. I am yet to hear someone say that of a baby boy. A child(girl) who is tall is told, ‘She will be a model, when she grows up’. When we put such ideas into their heads, is it a wonder that little girls get obsessed with their looks and their clothes? Yes, not all of them might be worried about their wrinkles, but some are definitely worried about their complexion.

Here in the UK, there is an initiative called ‘Stop Pimping our Kids’, which is part of a TV programme. They try to take on retailers who sell inappropriate clothes targeted at children as young as 6/7 years old. While it is great to make the retailers accountable, I think the deeper question is, who buys these clothes? Clearly these clothes are on the rack,because parents are buying them.. Isn’t that a bigger problem?

If only I could cocoon daughter from all these influences. I know I can’t but I can try to negate them by deflecting her attention, and by explaining why heels are not such a good idea. Not just for children, even for adults. And by focussing on things that lets her be a child.