Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mall World

My daughters and I got to be 'ladies who lunch' yesterday. We went to the local shopping mall and looked in stores and then had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe with my mother, who is probably the World's Best Grandmother (this is no surprise because she is the World's Best Mother). The lunch worked out well, I was a bit nervous that the 2 year-old might be spooked -- for those unfamiliar, the Rainforest Cafe is heavily decorated and creates the look and feel of being in a (simulated) jungle. There are large, realistic animals that move and make noises at various intervals during the meal. Luckily, we were not seated near any of these and were in the front of the restaurant where we did not feel completely immersed.

I couldn't help but notice a table of young girls, perhaps 8 years-old. They were clearly having a birthday party and all had their hair done up like Greek goddesses -- which was a curious juxtaposition with their sweatpants and otherwise sloppy attire. I took a peek at the goody bags as they passed to see the words Libby Lu. Interesting, I thought, a makeover party accompanied by lunch. I'm a no fuss kind of birthday party hostess so it was like a glimpse into another world.

When we returned to that mall after lunch, we wandered past Club Libby Lu, the place that spawns the mock Greek goddesses. Only this time it was spawning mock Britney Spearses. [UPDATE: apparently, the mock Greek goddess look has been dropped in favor of the rock star look; the website no longer shows the flowing ringlet hairpieces that were once offered] There were a half dozen midget divas with punky styled hair, glittery faces, dressed in short, tight, black sequined dresses, some of which bared midriffs. These kids were vamping it up to pulsating music in the front of the store at the direction of one of the employees. The proud mama and papa of the birthday girl were joining in the fun, with papa asking the girls 'how low can you go?' and snapping photos. I tried to picture my DH doing this but could only come up with a vision of him filling out application forms to send our girls to Catholic school.

As the mother of a 4 1/2 year-old, I realize that we haven't yet reached the age at which Club Libby Lu has become a driving need. However, I cannot help but wonder whether this is a harbinger of the decline of our civilization or whether I've just lost my sense of humor. Is it simply just a public form of playing dress-up or are we paying to have our daughters sexualized at a young age? Is this no big deal or is it the modern version of child sacrifice to our gods of consumerism and materialism?

I need chocolate.


david said...

That's pop culture fer ya: can't live with it can't live without it -- and if ya don't keep yer head above the water ya might just drown in it.

But I agree. Chocolate is a good panacea.

clanlally said...

Karen, official wife of clanlally, would do a better job responding to this post. I'll give it a go... She works for a brokerage firm where keeping up with the joneses takes on whole new meanings. These kind of parties are de rigeur (look at me speaking French!) They rent limos nad think nothing about dropping huge amounts of money. I personally dont get it. RESIST! People....fight the power! American Girl parties. Build a Bear! What happened to BOWLING? Criminy. Erin is going to a party at the local YMCA. They have some kind of climbing apparatus set up. Think obstacle course complete with spotters. I can live with that. That sounds like fun. And I know, I know, I am a guy and just dont get it. I am not in favor of sexualizing my 4 year old. Erin is going to hate us, but I dont care. My philosophy is this: She will probably not do anything worse that I ever did unless she kills a man just to watch him die. If she can beat me, then god bless. But we ain't stupid. :) Im not going to put her in situations where the risk is too great. Karen and I just had the conversation of when it would be ok for her to go to the mall on her own. My adamant answer is: "When she can demonstrate to me on a consistent basis that she understands security. Both personal and environmental." I use the military term Op Sec or operational security to over-dramatize my point. But the underlying stress is there. If she isnt AWARE and cant protect herself, then I will be going with her to the mall walking 10 paces behind her and her giggly friends, twirling a baseball bat and making menacing gestures at any male 3 years old and over. :)

Larry said...

I stand four square with Mike here. Resist! It's the
domination system we're confronted by everywhere we turn. If we acquiesce, we're as guilty as the Emperor.

Suzanne said...

I am so dreading this---my daughter is 16 months old, and already the clothes for her size seem age-inappropriate, at least for this fuddy-duddy mother. Like your other commenters, I am definitely planning on fighting against this trend toward earlier and earlier sexualization of girls.

Marjorie said...

Alright, the votes are in and no one has attempted to tell me that I'm making a big deal out of nothing. The fight for our daughters is on, let the rants continue!

Anonymous said...

We have a new rule: NO attending birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese and though Libby Lu hasn't come up yet (my eldest is almost 7) It goes without saying the answer is NO! If it makes you feel better, I have talked with other moms who agree that Libby Lu makes the girls look like little sluts, so we won't even go into the store. J.D.G.