When did it become acceptable for society to abolish childhood?
Looking at recent news stories, it seems that the whole notion of youth and innocence has evaporated completely, leaving behind a disturbing world in which young children, particularly girls, are left vulnerable to the pressures that face grown women everyday.
The idea of 'baby beauty pageants' filtered through to the UK a few years ago, but thankfully hasn't taken off in the extreme way that it exists in the US. While it seemed bad enough to parade little girls around in swimsuits, fake tan, false eyelashes and caked in make up, all with the intention of winning a cheap plastic crown, what has happened more recently seems much worse.
'Trendy Monkeys' is a beauty salon based in Brentwood, Essex. Not unusual, after witnessing the antics in TOWIE, you wouldn't be mistaken for expecting to see one on every corner with the amount of fake tan consumed by the cast. However this business caters to one specific clientèle, little girls.
Kids as young as three can be pampered just like the celebrities they aspire to be, getting a variety of treatments including fake tanning and manicures. We all know that the days where a board game or a doll can keep a child happy are long gone, replaced by television and computer games. But this idea of beauty treatments, designed for adults, as recreation for youngsters just doesn't seem right.
Most little girls have an awareness of their appearance, and today especially care quite a lot about it. But I thought that the furthest that went was a cute headband, or maybe some sparkly nail polish. Not falsies and a St. Tropez.
I remember reading an article in The Guardian where a 6 year old girl had written in her diary that she thought she was fat and ugly. Children that age shouldn't be thinking these things, this is the time when you don't have to worry about what you eat, or how you look. Magazines and television bombard us (all of us, children included) with images of 'perfect' celebrities, of women who are celebrated for their thin figures and slaughtered if they have an inch of cellulite. While these glossy images may make us feel rubbish on a bad day, a child can't understand that this isn't reality, as far as they're aware this is how they should be. And if they're not, well now they can visit the salon, to be fake as their idols.
After this revelation, another far shocking story has emerged, about 'Little Spinners' dance classes. Parents can pay £5 an hour to have their toddlers learn how to pole dance. This sleazy and degrading act that, personally, should never have become an acceptable form of 'exercise', is being offered to children as a fun after-school activity. Little girls are imitating the sexualised moves without having any idea of the connotations behind them, and it's completely sick.
Although you can't wrap children up in cotton wool and protect them forever, they shouldn't be pushed into this adult world so quickly and with such little consideration for the repercussions. With such concern over paedophilia and the child sex trade, it seems like a huge contradiction to be encouraging young girls to learn provocative dance moves, and dress them up to look older than their years.
I dread to think what will be available for children if I decide to have any in the future, make-up designed for baby's? High heels for toddlers? A few years ago high street stores were reprimanded for having padded bras for girls as young as three, but in a few years time will Ann Summers be stocking lingerie sets for school girls?
Whatever happened to NeverLand...