Tween Fashion

There was an article in Saturday’s Herald Sun (11th August, 2007) about girls as young as eight to twelve being heavily into fashion, cosmetics and basically everything to do with personal appearance. Titled “The High Price of Primary School Chic” the young girls featured in the photograph looked like miniature teenagers, yet they were only 11 years of age.

The article described how girls that come under the new term of ‘tweens’ wear makeup, have facials, go to hairdressers just for kids and undertake modeling and grooming courses. The article said that some girls “as young as 12 even have their prepubescent bust measurements listed on modeling cards.”

I try to remember how old I was when fashion and make-up became important and as far as my memory stretches back I really don’t think it was a measure of ‘coolness’ or ‘acceptance’ until I hit high school. Then again, there were the beginnings of it in grades five and six. I remember wanting my hair permed and Mum finally compromising on having just the ends done. I remember getting up the guts to finally tell Mum I didn’t want to wear clothes from Target any more. But this was all around age 11 to 12. Then by year 7 a girl wasn’t cool unless she wore Levis, a bit of lip gloss and shaved her legs.

Is it then a natural progression that this is all happening a couple of years earlier? As we all grow up faster in a faster world, is the ‘tween’ media hype such a big deal or is it a real concern that girls are acting like teenagers at a younger and younger age? The implication is that this results in pre-pubescent sexualisation of girls. There is concern over body image, and disorders like anorexia and bulimia occurring at a younger age. How true is this? Do you worry for your kids? What do you see happening? Is it the norm that girls are becoming worried about their looks at an age where they should still be engaging in imaginative play and running around in their backyards?

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