"A beauty parlour has become the first in Britain to offer makeovers, fake tans and facials exclusively for children and toddlers, it has emerged," says everybody's favourite Conservative broadsheet The Daily Telegraph before going to list the services available at the salon, Trendy Monkeys of Brentwood, including "fruit smoothie facials, mini pedicures, manicures or make-up application, hair “up-dos” and haircuts." And all this in the same week as the Government's new proposals to combat the sexualisation of children! Keen eyes will note that brazilians and vajazzles do not appear.
Trendy Monkeys. Doesn't look all that sexual, does it? Unless monkeys in tutus do it for you. They probably do for some people, but we'd prefer not to Google anything like that just in case we see images.
Apparently, girls as young as one year old can be treated to ""Princess pamper parties", which costs several hundred pounds" which begin with them and up to five friends being "picked up in a pink limousine" and taken to the salon, where doting parents "can pay for extra services including spray tans while having a photographer follow them around."
Professor Judy Hutchings of the Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention told the paper that the salon represents "not just the sexualisation but the commercialisation of children." We dislike the sexualisation of children as much as any other normal adult, but the commercialisation bit is stretching things a bit far. The same could be said about The Beano, Ladybird books, Dinky cars and all the other kiddies' products that were with us in that delightful bit of the 1950s with the rosy glow around it, when children were innocent creatures of joy and light and went around with scabby knees saying "brilliant!" and drinking lashings and lashings of ginger beer. Precisely the same thing is going on in the half-timbered cottages of the Black Forest where Geppetto hand carves toys for sale to tourists, in the Tridias shops that were so beloved among the upper middle classes for their traditional toys and lack of the latest kill-em-up videogames, and everywhere else that toys or anything else marketed at and for children has ever been sold.
Tellingly, the Toryrag points out early on in the story that the salon, which opened last weekend, "is located in an area featured in the ITV reality television show The Only Way Is Essex." Two members of the cast were in fact at the opening of the salon, as revealed by The Daily Mail which, predictably, takes a similar line to the broadsheet and has a picture of the celebs in question in Marbella ("Marbella? How vulgar!"). Which rather begs the question: what do we have here? A story which raises legitimate concerns over the way children are being raised in modern society or an opportunity for the newspaper's readers to enjoy a spot of "haw haw, look how tasteless the working classes like the ones in that dreadful programme (which none of us watched, of course, because we're much too highbrow) are, aren't we so much better than them?"-style upper middle class snobbish solidarity over their breakfast coffee this morning?