Botox for 8-Year-Old Reminds Us of Beauty Messages Moms Send Their Daughters

Filed under: Opinions

My beloved grandmother Mary was a model in her youth, even doing a stint as the Lucky Strikes girl, appearing on the back cover of Life magazines in the '40s. She was, and, now in her 90s, still is, gorgeous and the epitome of a Southern belle. God forbid you go to the grocery store without makeup on and your toenails done.

Katherine and Grandma

Mary and Katherine. Credit: Katherine Stone

She influenced me a lot, and while I'm perfectly comfortable going to Publix with a baseball cap and sunglasses on to hide my dirty hair and unmade face, I still do it up when it counts. I have to admit that looking good matters to me. It always has. My mother tells me I used to get up an hour early when I was in junior high just so I could do my hair.

I often wonder how my 5-year-old daughter will view her own beauty. She sees me putting my makeup on, and has asked me several times to wear it herself. I realize this is because she wants to be close to me, to do what I do, but I feel both anxiety and dread when she asks to put on lipstick or wear eyeshadow.

Are you kidding, child?! Not a chance!

I usually give her a brush with nothing on it and pretend I'm putting it on her, and I've told her again and again that she is gorgeous and smart and wonderful just as she is, and she doesn't need makeup. Do as I say and not as I do, I suppose.

Today, on the radio, I heard the story of a mother who has been giving her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections. If I could have, I would have fallen out of the front seat of my car. Both the mom, Kerry Campbell, and her daughter, Britney, recently appeared on "Good Morning America," where Kerry explained, "I knew she was complaining about her face, having wrinkles, and things like that. When I brought it up to Britney she was all for it."

Brought it up? BROUGHT IT UP?! Who brings up the idea of giving her 8-year-old Botox? I realize -- or at least, I hope -- this isn't a common occurrence. I honestly cannot come up with any reason, other than ignorance, why a mother would think giving her elementary-school daughter Botox and waxing her legs would be a good idea.

Is Kerry trying to get attention through her daughter by using desperate measures to help Britney win a beauty pageant, no matter the cost to the girl's health or self-esteem?

This story made me think of the special series Own Your Beauty at The Own Your Beauty pledge reads in part:
Let's collaborate on a definition of beauty that celebrates what makes each of us unique, inside and out.

Instead of measuring ourselves against some airbrushed, Photoshopped ideal, let's tailor the standard of beauty to suit ourselves.

Instead of feeding our insecurities about our appearance, let's nourish our sense of self.

Instead of focusing on what we believe to be flaws, let's look at our reflection and smile with satisfaction.

Let's recognize the beauty of our strength, our dignity, our ambition, our curiosity, our quirky humor, our compassion and our passion.

Let's take all the energy we've spent on endless loops of negative feedback about everything from the way we live our lives to our butts, our hips, our boobs and, for Pete's sake, even our ankles - and use it instead to power something positive and meaningful.

I can't say I've lived that pledge. I try, and on some days I succeed. I have grown to become more comfortable with myself as a whole, and more confident in who I am and what I have to offer. I still don't like my butt, though, or my hips. I fret over my flaws some days, as I see my wrinkles growing deeper and my youth starting to fade. Why can't I more fully and comfortably celebrate the beauty that is me, inside and out?

More importantly, how do I change the conversation for my daughter? How do I help her to be comfortable doing the things the pledge extols? I don't care anywhere near enough about beauty that I would give my daughter Botox, or a wax, or an extreme makeover, but it would be wrong to assume that just because I'm not extreme like Kerry Campbell that I couldn't be doing a better job of teaching my daughter to own her own beauty.

Kerry may be hitting her daughter over the head with a baseball bat of beauty, but I think I need to examine any subtle messages that I may be sending my own daughter about whether she is good enough -- the kind of messages that could get passed on and cemented in a girl's mind when you aren't even looking.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.