Journalist and blogger Sally Whittle says we should encourage our little girls to play

T here’s no need to tell me kids grow up fast these days. Thanks to reality TV, YouTube and social media, my daughter Flea has been exposed to a multitude of glamorous role models – before she’s even out of primary school. It’s no wonder that girls of this age want to be just like these stars – who wouldn’t want the glam life of Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande? But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to turn our daughters into mini-popstars, complete with beauty salon sessions, hair extensions, and painted nails. Model behaviour ‘Oh, it’s just harmless fun,’ say moms like actress Tori Spelling (who recently let her seven-year-old daughter dye her hair).

Journalist and blogger Sally Whittle says we should encourage our little girls to play Photo Gallery

Perhaps it is fun – when it’s a game, being played at home. But to encourage your pre-teen daughter to be fully madeup, then having the pictures plastered all over social media? Is that really wise? When you teach your children that it’s fun to ‘improve’ their appearance by changing themselves with hair spray and makeup, that’s a pretty powerful lesson they’ll take into their teenage and adult years. Wouldn’t you rather teach your child that they’re amazing when they run around and their eyes sparkle with fun? That the way they laugh when they’re playing a game is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? That they’re perfectly gorgeous just the way they are? Popularity contest Lots of moms love manicures and facials, but I was pretty shocked to discover just how many mothers allow their daughters, under the age of eight, to have professional beauty treatments.

I make it clear to Flea that those are treatments for saggy grownups like me, who have tummies that wobble when we run, and skin that isn’t perfectly peachy. More importantly, I think treating girls like adults and encouraging them to have beauty treatments sends a damaging message. We’re telling them their self-worth is tied to their appearance. Have your nails done, we say, and you’ll feel better about yourself. Is it any wonder these girls turn into teens who spend hours each day taking selfies and posting them online in the hope of getting ‘enough’ likes? Nowadays teen girls would rather have a ‘like’ than a hug. How sad is that? Beauty from within My daughter loves to surf, and do karate, and play video games, and walk our dog on the beach – and none of those things need her to be ‘pretty’.

My daughter, thankfully, knows that she and her friends are all perfectly gorgeous just as they are, and while it’s natural to look forward to growing up, it’s something that happens in its own sweet time. Childhood should be a time when girls feel unconditionally loved. As moms, our job is to show them their value to the world is about how kind they are, how hard they work, and how much they love friends and family. It definitely isn’t the time to tell them they’ll be perfect if they just wear the right shade of lip gloss.

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