Features » Metroplus

Updated: February 8, 2010 20:10 IST

Our little women

Bindu Tobby
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BABY STEPS? Too much, too soon
BABY STEPS? Too much, too soon

SOCIETY: Are pimple-free cheeks and fairness meter checks the core around which we want to shape and mould the character of our little lasses.

If the recent news of a celebrity mom straightening her two-year-old daughter's hair piqued me, seeing my neighbour's 10-year-old daughter refusing to have dinner in her attempt to lose weight, and her mom reminding her to stay indoors lest she gets tanned, downright irked me.

As a size-zero lauding, anti-ageing cream using, beauty-parlour lounging generation, are we so obsessed with looks and unconsciously passing it on to the future generation?

Are weightlessness, pimple-free cheeks, fairness meter checks, blemish-free skin and neat rows of (artificially-braced) teeth the core around which we want to shape and mould the character of our little lasses?

Says Piya Bose, mom of nine-year-old Rohan: “Though I don't have a daughter, this gets me all agitated. Recently, at my son's friends' party, I was shocked to see a nine-year-old wearing contact lens matching her party dress. The other young girls wore clothes that were garish, skimpy and way too ‘adult', and all these clothes had been bought by their mothers!”

She adds: “One little girl said she gets her eyebrows shaped at the salon regularly, and most of the moms there admitted they take their daughters along with them to salons. One of them even asked me: ‘If one can get braces for kids, to improve their smile, why not straighten hair, if that looks good?'”

Building character

“It is competition everywhere, with everyone striving to be like models and film stars. What we don't realise is that these people look like that since it's part of their job”, says Alice Leen Jacob, a former model.

Mom to a 20-year-old daughter, she adds: “Surely, we mothers have our own tips to help our girls look graceful, but ultimately, it is about building a strong character in our girls, and not misguiding them towards the rat race.”

While she says that a simple approach is all it takes to look beautiful, she adds: “Children should be left to be children; allow them to grow and bloom naturally, rather than tamper and expose them to the glam world.”

Agrees Rani Mathew, who has a daughter and two grand daughters. “Comparisons in all respects, especially about complexions or features of other children should be avoided. When we comment about external beauty and ‘good looks' of some children, we are automatically passing on the message to our little ones that fair is beautiful, thin is attractive and beautiful eyes and shapely noses are must-haves. We obviously want our kids to become strong, spirited, smart, and sensible, and not bleak, diet-conscious wafer-thin freaks, whose sole aim is to look good!” True. There was a time, just a few years ago, when anorexics didn't plague our world, and chubby was cute; when little girls and boys raced each other down empty roads or climbed trees, breaking a bone or scraping an elbow; when moms didn't bother to check on whether their girls were wearing the right shade of lipstick, nail polish or eye shadow to go with their party dresses.

As Piya adds: “The question is obviously how much is too much. I guess the answer lies in the changing cultural context and values. But, I find this trend very unnerving. To me, a whole generation seems to have lost its innocence.”

Mirror, mirror

  • We must stop our own obsession with beauty if we don’t want the future generation to do that!
  • Lets vow to encourage our to go outdoors, and get muddy, dirty and sweaty
  • While peer pressure, television and the Internet are bound to influence adolescents, infusing core values around internal beauty can go a long way in shaping young minds

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