My 5-year-old is invited to a birthday party organized at a spa and massage parlour for kids. I am bowled over to know the transition from ‘baby products’ to ‘beauty products’ can be so quick. Girls are excited! They will be treated with manicure, pedicure, make-up and hair styling. Until today, manicure just meant trimming scraggly nails with her bandsaw teeth. Except after the invitation she knows there is a paid service available for it. And make-up! It means messing up with mommy’s dressing table. Although, post invitation my darling daughter is allured by the prospects offered by the ‘little Lolita’ architects.
Birthday parties have always tortured me and this bazillion gazillion parties with weird themes will surely drag me under the ‘expenditure cascade’; of course you can’t gift cheap plastic crapola from China at such parties and expect to dodge the ‘spa fad’ among these little girls. These days, diseases don’t constitute an epidemic; it is the comparison, competition, and imitation that is contaminating our lives. Three hours of a superfluous splurge and I am sure to be welcoming a décor and not a daughter. And massage for kids? Soon, mercenaries will start selling braces and wigs for newborns and I anticipate customers already queueing up.
Why is everything zeroed down to looks and physical appearance? “Children desire to imitate Anna and Elsa from Frozen”, says a Tiara birthday party organizer. Aren’t we brought up on a diet of stories revolving around Cinderella and Snow white? The story of Princesses propels the moral and righteous virtues. However, we are busy focusing on imitating the costumes and not the character. Princesses don’t pout and pose for selfies. They are known for perseverance, endurance, generosity and astuteness. And these money-making machines which are worse than the toxic plastic suppliers from China are not going to teach this to our children. It’s us.
Renowned child psychiatrist Dr. Bhooshan Shukla warns parents, “Be aware of consequences of such actions that are termed just for fun. It is not surprising when a 14-year adolescent tries to be attractive and perceives herself as merchandise.” Parents are substituting money for time and love. ‘I have no time however I have a tab’, ‘I can’t play with you in the park, but I can buy an expensive toy that you will be busy with for a week’. ‘I am not here on your birthday, yet I can throw you a lavish party’, ‘I can buy you a fancy bike, except I lack time to teach you how to ride it, and ‘as I lack parenting skills, I will surrogate my presence with all the products and services that are sold under the tag ‘for kids’ to patronize you.’