A recent news item I came across says that a French label has decided to manufacture sexy lingerie for girls who are under 10 years of age. Another news article talked about a mother who decided to get plastic surgery done for her 6 year old daughter because, according to the mother, the kid was not happy with the way she looked. There is another programme that airs on Discovery Home and Health I think, called “Toddlers and Tiaras”, thats follows the lives of some toddlers and their parents who participate in the kids pageant circuit in the US. These kids actually get their hair and makeup done, get manicures and pedicures on a regular basis, even have their food monitored and are taught how to walk and shake their booty and what not. To say the least, all these above instances shocked me to the core. But then, in an age when a 13 year old boy and 15 year old girl have a baby together and their parents are apparently “proud” of the fact that their kids decided to “keep the baby”, you can’t expect anything lesser.
What is happening to kids today? What kind of examples are being set for them? Its a scary world. I have been married for a couple of years and am seriously considering having a kid but, I’m petrified at the thought of bringing a kid into a world where she/ he will start demanding a nose job or something at age 3. What kind of role models do kids have these days? I remember my childhood when I was never insecure about myself. True, I was quiet and preferred not to talk much, but I was smart and happy. In spite of being pudgy and hardly being able to see above the dining table at home, I never thought I wasn’t pretty enough or that my nose was too weird or anything. In fact, I still think there’s something wrong with my nose but I wouldn’t dream of getting any “work” done on me.
True, when you are kids, you want a dress that one of your friends wore, or you want to look as pretty as a “Barbie” or something like that, but I don’t know what kind of a parent would dream of getting surgery done on a 6 year old to enhance her features. I have seen countless TV programmes of kids who are sixteen wanting bigger breasts and their vain mothers going along with them. I have seen guys who are in their teens wanting more defined cheekbones or a better looking nose and having their parents actually shell out the money to get these things fixed for them. I can understand parents wanting to do this for a child who was born disfigured or has been disfigured because of some accident. But doing this for a kid who otherwise looks perfectly fine, is beyond my comprehension.
More disturbing is the thought as to why kids want to do these things. Why do these kids get the idea that only something that looks like a Barbie doll is perfect? Or that only a size zero is perfect. Or that you need to have perfect hair and looks to be considered popular or important. Maybe it has to do with the kind of environment we live in these days. There’s this incessant exposure to what is considered to be perfect. Movies always portray the herione as beautiful, size zero, looking smoking hot in a bikini. The hero has chiselled features, six pack abs and what not. And the pictures that come in magazines these days screaming ” ‘insert hero/heroine’s name’ spills secrets on how to look fab- his/her diet and exercise regimen” and the article goes on to give you every minute detail of their day. But the pictures of said hero/heroine will invariable be heavily photoshopped. Even pictures of actresses in their teens come with a lot of photoshop work done on them. And I wonder, how many of those reading the magazines actually realize that. And even if they why do they not accept the fact that it’s not normal to look like that.
There’s this belief that has been fostered in us that only thin is beautiful. This is especially true for the female half of the population. Look at the models who walk the ramps, whose faces fill magazines- they are all reed thin. How many times do we read about models who lose their lives because of excessive dieting? There is some hue and cry for a few days and then all is forgotten. Just look at Disney movies- Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine- are all stick thin and extremely pretty. I’m not saying that they should make these characters fat. I’m not endorsing obesity in any manner. But aren’t we sending the wrong message to the millions of kids who watch these movies? Kids idolize these characters and aspire to be like them. True, the obsession passes once they are out of their childhood but then, they have their tween idols and then teen idols and what not to look “up” to. And they are all invariably stick thin and pretty. Very rarely do we have stars like Jennifer Hudson or Amber Riley or Monique who are on the plus side. But even they, aspire to lose weight (case in point- Jennifer Hudson). It’s all in the way people are conditioned.
People say that kids should have the intelligence to know what is right and what is wrong for them after a certain age. They should know that aspiring to have an unrealistic figure or getting work done to achieve perfect beauty is not good. But at a time when peer pressure overrules all other judgement and in an age of super sophisticated cyber bullying when you have every chance of being bullied for being a little on the plump side, kids will want to confirm to the norm rather than have the courage to stand apart.
And today I came across an artice in HBR which said that better looking women have a higher chance of getting promoted and getting better pay packages in the corporate world. I was flabbergasted. I’m all for looking well put together in the workplace and being dressed professionally and not coming into work looking like you just rolled out of bed and all, but to think that that’s the most important critetion you are going to be judged on and not your ability to get a job done or your qualification is just plain humiliating. I’m all for dressing well and being confident about your looks but if you are going to tell me that’s the only thing that’s going to matter then what’s the point of being smart and intelligent? No wonder kids would rather be pretty than have anything else.
In this age when there’s lingerie for kids, having a kid at 13 is cool, teen moms are all the rage and plastic surgery is the way to go, I’m scared for all kids. I’m scared to bring a kid into this world. And when that happens, I can only hope that my kid (in fact, all kids) has the sensibility to understand all that is superficial and chose not to go that way.