Even as you tempt your six-year-old with a teddy or fairytale book at the shopping mall, don’t be surprised if you catch her eyeing a two-piece bikini on the mannequin.
After star kid Suri Cruise surprised the world with her striking ‘high-heeled’ fashion, a recent study of elementary school-age children in the US also found that girls as young as six are beginning to think of themselves as sex objects.
The scenario is no different in India, where kids are seen sporting every ‘sexy’ item on the block, be it tube tops or high heels. And not to forget, those raunchy moves and loud makeup on kids’ reality shows.
“I have girls as young as seven and eight coming with their mums for facial, upper lips and eye-brow threading and waxing,” says Richa Agarwal of Cleopatra Spa. Beauty expert Shahnaz Husain agrees. “Little girls love to look like little ladies. They love to wear heels and carry fancy mini handbags to look like their mother,” she says.
Hair and makeup expert Aashmeen Munjaal says that kids are also quite brand conscious. No wonder American fashion designer Michael Kors’ three-inch heels for six-year-olds is already a topic of discussion among tiny tots. What’s more, it’s not a blunt or bob that these kids want to sport. “Our Star Kids hairstyle is a huge hit. They are inspired by star kids such as Harper Beckham, Suri Cruise, Willow Smith and more,” says Munjaal.
Psychologists feel that six-year-olds today are part of the same culture as 16-year-olds, they watch the same films and have unlimited access to the internet so it’s natural that their impressionable minds will be attracted to everything that’s supposed to be ‘cool’.
“Kids feel that the glamorous attires adorned by kids in reality shows will enhance their ‘self image’,” says psychiatrist Dr Neatu Narang of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. “Kids feel that by dressing up sexy like elders, they’ll attract attention and be popular,” says psychologist Dr Avdesh Sharma. “Showing off a cleavage that doesn’t exist, wearing heels and makeup and having diva hair robs kids of their innocence,” says designer Bharat Grover.
Adman Prahlad Kakkar, however, says, “Innocence is all in the mind, not about what they wear.”