Monday, January 17, 2011

How Young is Too Young?

This video has shocked me, and others. It is of a five year old girl being forced to have her eyebrows waxed for a toddler beauty pageant.

This got me thinking, how young is too young to start waxing, dying, primping and preening? 5 is definitely too young and, for the record, i think beauty pageants for children are just plain disturbing. Pedo central.

I remember when I was in primary school (for the record, about the year 2000) and I was 11. Most of the girls in my year was dying their hair, getting top-of-the-ear piercings, nose piercings, and going to friday night discos. No exaggeration. I was one of the unlucky ones who were not allowed to do any of these things, and were then outcast from the social group. This was ten years ago now, I wonder what it's like for girls these days.

Of course it will differ from school to school, but it was at 11 that I was expected, socially, to be growing up and dating boys. I still had no interest in boys at this point! I just wanted my friends to like me. I didn't have the cool clothes, hairstyles, anything like the "popular" girls. It seemed I was lumped in the group with the people who were too fat or dumb (no offense to them, but that was the group they were in.) to be invited to the cool things. I was invited at first but, not being allowed to go, stopped being invited. In a year group of 58 people, that's a big deal.

I was not allowed to shave my legs or pluck my eyebrows then either. But in the first year of high school (the first week, actually.) I had the unfortunate experience of being called a "hairy gorilla" by some girls who then threw fruit at me. This resulted in me sneaking around my house trying to shave without my parents knowing. I felt that, because I wasn't allowed, I was somehow going against them by doing this.

Thinking about it now, I have received a lot of critisism for my appearance before I entered into plucking, dying and shaving. In fact, I have a distinct memory of being told my hair was "brown with a dirty grey shine" and looked "like poo". This is probably the reason I have such ridiculously unnatural coloured hair now.

The pressure on girls and young women to conform is enormous. I, for one, have never had a bikini wax, mainly because my mum wouldn't take me as a teenager (and I never asked), so I learnt to take care of it myself, and still do. I remember at my dance school a girl at 12 had been taken for a bikini wax and tan by her mum in preparation for summer. Her mum said to mine "I just dont want her to be embarrassed." Really, what was there to be embarrassed OF? She's 12 for crying out loud! I don't know, I guess being bought up the way I have makes me think things like that are crazy. But then again, if she had asked her mum and her mum had said no, she would have spent the whole summer being ashamed of herself. Low self esteem is the biggest problem amongst girls and young women... it's such a delicate balance that it's hard to say what's wrong and what's right sometimes. I guess it all depends on you.

Then again, there's pressure as an adult too. Last week I had let my legs grow hairy because I was busy and hadn't had time to do anything about it, and my mother turned to me and said "have you no shame? Do you hate yourself that much that you want people laughing at you?" I thought that was a bit harsh but it's true: if you don't constantly conform to society's idea of how you should look, you are ridiculed for it.

The world is a harsh place. Sometimes, I don't like it at all.