August 25, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Posting - "Not On Our Watch" Division

Last evening, in the course of a call from the mother of one of the Llama-ettes' little friends, we were extended an invitation to a birthday party at a place called Club Libby Lu.

The Missus very politely but firmly said that she was sorry, but we don't allow the gels to go there. Period.

I could almost hear the sound of consternation at the other end of the line.

You may have heard of this place. It's a dress-up birthday shop in the mall that caters to the 5-12 year old little girl set. But rather than costuming them as, say, storybook characters, ballerinas or princesses, this place specializes in turning the little darlings into skanks:

Mostly it's birthday parties at Club Libby Lu. A girl turns 6 and she wants the Tween Idol makeover for herself and her friends, complete with makeup, punky hair and a pink headset like Britney Spears might wear onstage. All the girls get to borrow party costumes. Many choose low-slung pants and sequined spandex tops cropped just under where their breasts would be, if they had any. Sometimes, the girls are so small their pants legs drag under their sneakers.

After the makeovers, the club counselors, as they're known, lead the girls in a dance, teaching them to "shimmy down" and to "shake it, shake it." Sometimes they arrange a fashion catwalk. The girls walk down the aisle of the store till they reach the front, where mothers hold cameras. Here, the girls fling one arm theatrically toward the ceiling. The song on the store stereo says: "Wet your lips/And smile to the camera."

(What this WaPo article doesn't tell you is that men strolling around the mall sometimes loiter around the place to watch these "shows". If that doesn't creepify you, you've got some serious problems.)

The parents who do take their daughters there sound as if they need a healthy whuppin' with a cluebat:

The mothers are ambivalent. Some say their daughters would be trying on makeup at home if they weren't trying it on here. Some say this is okay, but only on special occasions. Some say this place troubles them, but so does the notion of banning something because that might cause their girls to want it more. ("I wish they were excited about a Lego party," says mom Rebecca deGuzman. "Do they have to show their bellies?")

Some of them, like Leigh Wilson, say, "Oh, Natalie! You look beautiful!"

Natalie Wilson is 4. She's here for the birthday of her older sister, who's turning 6. Earlier, she had her makeup done: blue eye shadow and lip gloss. For a while, she keeps rubbing her lips together, feeling the strange stickiness. She holds her hands out from her sides to keep her blue nail polish from getting on her clothes. She wears a tight black sequined top.

Her grandmothers are here, too, admiring the scene.

"I would've loved it as a mom," one of the grandmothers says. "Somebody else does all the work."

What on earth is wrong with these people? I tell you truly, there is very little that reduces me to snarling, spitting anger more than the way in which our culture attempts to sexualize girls at younger and younger ages. Unfortunately, Club Libby Lu is just a symptom of a much larger malignancy:

Club Libby Lu sells the particular fantasy of a culture that has given itself over to klieg lights and red carpets, to cheap celebrity and expensive childhoods, to girls who dress like women and women who act like girls.

Meanwhile, "Who Let the Dogs Out" plays on the store's stereo system, and a little girl holds her freshly painted nails out and sings feebly, "Who-who-who-who."

Who, indeed. I dunno, but they better stay the hell away from my children.

UPDATE: I see that I have fumed about this place before. Sorry, but I'm getting progressively crankier about this sort of thing, what with the need for ceaseless vigilence. (I've recently had to put the kybosh on the four year old saying, "Shake yo booty.")

(Just you wait, Mr. Wookie!)

Posted by Robert at August 25, 2006 09:43 AM | TrackBack

Whislt channel surfing the other night I stumbled across Gene Simmons' reality show. The brief moment I watched was a scene in which his 13 year old daughter was dressed like a "streetwalker" (his word, not mine IIRC -- but entirely true). He later complained about it to Shannon Tweed (gal pal, not married.) She informed him that 13 is the new 16. Not, mind you, that Gene did anything about it, but when Gene frickin' Simmons is complaining about the sluttiness appearance of girls, then you know something is wrong.

Posted by: rbj at August 25, 2006 10:17 AM

You are not helping my blood pressure!! My little girl's not even born yet and I'm all verklempt about Chubby Libby whats-it-called and catwalks and boyfriends and the wedding I'll have to pay for eventually.

If only daughters weren't so damn cute and wonderful...

I need a drink...

Posted by: jwookie at August 25, 2006 11:04 AM

I am with you, brother. My daughter is 19 months old and I am already trying to figure out how we are going to afford that convent boarding school in the Alps.

Posted by: LMC at August 25, 2006 02:42 PM

Ack. Don't worry, guys. Stay the course and steer clear of the Club Pr0stit0ts of the world. They'll come and they'll go.

Posted by: tee bee at August 25, 2006 03:24 PM

And here I was, thinking the South Park guys were kidding about the "Stupid Spoiled Whore" chain of stores.

Egads. It's things like this that make me glad I haven't reproduced.

Posted by: Russ at August 25, 2006 06:54 PM

This makes me glad we have a very small mall where I live....and I'm too scared of P'burgh traffic to even go to Build a Bear.

Daughter will be three in two weeks and she's more interested in playing with her brother's dinosaurs!

Posted by: GroovyVic at August 26, 2006 06:52 AM

Thank you, God, for giving me a boy. Thank you, God, for giving me a boy. Thank you, God, for giving me a boy.

In other news, as a parent in general:

What this WaPo article doesn't tell you is that men strolling around the mall sometimes loiter around the place to watch these "shows".

Two words:

Louisville Slugger

Or Twelve Gauge.

or Tire Iron.

Or Double Tap.

Take your pick. I was in deadly earnest the day I decided that if anyone touches The Lad sexually while he's a minor, or harms him in any way, they won't face a jury, but I will.

Posted by: Memento Moron at August 27, 2006 12:45 AM