Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Libby Lu vs. Legos

I was in the mall this weekend (big shock) and passed a store called "Libby Lu." For the uninitiated, Libby Lu is a store aimed toward 7-12 year olds that pops up in malls across America, decorated in fushia with some purple thrown in for good measure, with the tag line "It's a girl thing."

The store markets itself as (and I swear I'm using their own words) "a special secret club for [sic] super fabulous girls can get makeovers parties, play games, get advice, and find really cool princess paraphernalia." One of the most popular words on its website is "sassy." Not surprisingly, the website also features many, many exclamation points ("Our fun, funky Club Counselors will create the perfect look for you!!! A sassy celebration!!!") and deliberately poor spelling ("shop 4 cool stuff;" a haircut called a "Libby du"). A peek into the store reveals young girls--never older than 10--trying on make-up, wearing crop tops, doing their hair, and trying on more makeup. There isn't a boy in sight. The store even has different types of makeovers: "rocker," "tween idol," "priceless princess," "super star" and "royal heiress." So even the makeover itself contains all of the creativity of a multiple choice.

I guess this is what women have decided to tell their daughters is important: make-up, all things pink and "princess paraphernalia." The mothers who allow their daughters to paint their faces and run around the mall with their bellies bared invariably say that the store is just "fun" and "harmless." Yeah, it's harmless to encourage your pre-pubescent to care about looks; it's harmless to encourage "shopping" as one their favorite activities; it's harmless to tell them that there are "girl" things like having makeover parties that boys aren't a part of; it's harmless to tell your daughters that they should get a makeover, but only if it is in one of five predetermined acceptable categories, so that you look just like everyone else.

Right next door to the Libby Lu store in the mall was the Lego store. A store where kids can use their imagination to create buildings, towns, and whatever else they can conceive. How many boys were in the Lego store when I walked by? At least 20. How many girls? One. I guess the sisters of all those boys playing with Legos were next door, applying mascara and asking their friends if they liked the sparkly blue eyeshadow better than the sparkly pink eyeshadow (actually, maybe that's too much choice--perhaps the more relevant question is whether they want to be "priceless princess" or "royal heiress").

Harmless? I don't think so.


Blogger Laura Holt said...

Not that I don't think this is really obnoxious, and no doubt an indictment of all society, but I think you're a little harsh on parents here. I've read a couple of articles recently (don't ask me where, can't find the links) by parents bemoaning this princess-ification of their daughters, and saying that no matter how hard they try to pull their daughters away from princess paraphernalia and toward, oh, I don't know, erector sets or something, they still face endless appeals for hot pink boas and daughters using their lincoln logs as magic wands and the collander as a tiara.

I'd like to think that I'd resist taking my (hypothetical) daughter to a store like this, but if that's what she wanted for her birthday, would I?

6/27/2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Yes, I guess there is a point at which society has pushed these images on girls so much that parents are dismayed to find their daughters want to wear makeup and sparkles all of the time.

But I also think parents need to set limits. If a parent is really appalled by the idea that this is what her daughter wants, then she needs to stand firm on said daughter's birthday and tell her no Libby Lu.

I know it is possible--my parents did it with me, and I didn't always like it, but I also didn't grow up to be a twit idolizing Paris Hilton.

6/27/2006 4:50 PM  
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