Saturday, February 26, 2011

Advertising to Children: Geo Girl Make-up


Does an eight-year-old girl need an anti-aging face cream? WalMart thinks so.

Geo Girl is a line of "natural make-up and skin care" in recyclable containers. The target users: girls eight to twelve, also known as "tweens." The products were scheduled to launch in WalMart stores this week but have not yet appeared on the shelves.

Make-up for kids is just a slight modification of a phenomenon started with the 2006 make-up line from Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. It was successfully marketed for teens although it also proved to have pre-teen appeal. But the twins extraordinaire have grown up and refocused on a fashion empire, and their followers are now all old enough to pop for "real" make-up. Marketers needed to move on, but this time why not include an even larger group of potential customers who already spend about $24 million per year on make-up? Most of this tween money is spent on lip gloss, eye shadow and mascara. According to an ABC News report, mascara use in that age group increased from 10% to 18% in 2009.

The report has much more to say on the subject of young girls and make-up, including concerns about skin damage from inappropriate use of exfoliators on youthful faces and possible psychological damage from pressure to be beautiful and sexy at an age when those demands are premature. You can watch the entire 6-minute video in the link, but here's one obvious conclusion:
"We are raising another generation of girls who kind of measure their self-worth based on what's on the outside," Dr. Logan Levkoff, author of the book Third Base Ain't What it Used to Be said to "Good Morning America."
Make-up is just part of the challenge. Young girls are confronted daily with advertising and media input that insists that they should be concerned with how they look. The NYU Child Study Center offers this disturbing information in an article entitled "How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem:"
  • Eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression are the most common mental health problems in girls. 
  • 59% of 5–12th grade girls in one survey were dissatisfied with their body shape.
  • 20–40% of girls begin dieting at age 10.
  • By 15, girls are twice as likely to become depressed than boys.
  • Among 5–12th graders, 47% said they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • Health risks accompany girls' drop in self-esteem due to risky eating habits, depression, and unwanted pregnancy.
  • Girls aged 10 and 12 are confronted with "teen" issues such as dating and sex, at increasingly earlier ages. 73% of 8–12–year-olds dress like teens and talk like teens.
  • 20–40% of girls begin dieting at age 10.
  • By 15, girls are twice as likely to become depressed than boys.
  • Among 5–12th graders, 47% said they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • Health risks accompany girls' drop in self-esteem due to risky eating habits, depression, and unwanted pregnancy.  
  • Girls aged 10 and 12 are confronted with "teen" issues such as dating and sex, at increasingly earlier ages. 73% of 8–12–year olds dress like teens and talk like teens.
The countermeasures to all these sad statistics are in the hands of parents. There's a list of specific suggestions in the report (such as open communication about the issues, good role modelling, avoiding stereotyping), but the conclusion is:
"It is within the family that a girl first develops a sense of who she is and who she wants to become. Parents armed with knowledge can create a psychological climate that will enable each girl to achieve her full potential." 
Make-up for children is more than a consumer issue; it's an ethical issue. But how young is too young to wear it? I was surprised to learn that some parents don't find Geo Girl products objectionable. And, for the record, WalMart marketers have said that they'll be targeting the parents, not the kids, offering the make-up as a "green" alternative. Somehow that seems as disingenuous as toy manufacturers saying they target parents with their advertising.

I can't imagine the pressures that little girls feel today to be sexy. It seems such a sad loss of innocence and childhood years that should be enjoyed without that kind of burden. I'm not a parent, so I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I'll try to keep an open mind, but I don't think anyone will be able to convince me that an eight-year old needs anti-aging cream.

© 2011 Cynthia Friedlob
Image credit: Sonia Castro at StockXchng

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just a Little Bit More About Clutter



Sandy Banks is one of my favorite columnists at the Los Angeles Times, so I was particularly interested to read about her struggles with clutter:

"But I finally hit rock bottom last weekend, as I pawed through my collection of boxes in search of a receipt my tax man needs. My problem isn't containers or labels or color coding. It's the fact that the thickest folders in every bin are MISCELLANEOUS and TO BE FILED."
Oh, how I sympathize!

Her solution was to hire a professional organizer, a great idea for someone who feels overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of her. Of course, she was embarrassed, like many of us would be, to let the organizer see things in a state of chaos, so she cleaned up a bit first, in spite of the organizer's request to let everything remain just as it was. This is about as silly as cleaning up before the cleaning lady comes, but it has the added disadvantage of not giving the organizer a true picture of your problems.

I suspect that a professional organizer would have some useful insights about my clutter, whether I cleaned up a bit first or not. But I also suspect that the ultimate solution would require adopting the famous Nike slogan: Just do it. As much as I'd like to believe that there's a short-cut to improving the situation, I doubt that the useless papers will leap into the shredder on their own nor will the clothes choose to fly from the closet and into the nearest charity collection box. However, like Sandy, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right at the moment, too, thus this short blog post. So, I'm adopting the viewpoint of Scarlett O'Hara instead: Tomorrow is another day.

Read the entire article by Sandy Banks here. Clean up tomorrow!

© 2011 Cynthia Friedlob
Image by datarec at stock.xchng