Empowering Girls: First Salon Cut


I felt, after 6 years of free haircuts from NaNa, that $10 was an appropriate amount to spend for a first salon haircut.

After recently getting my own hair makeover, my daughter expressed an interest in getting hers cut “just like mine.”

Aware that a daughter’s desire to be “just like Mommy” is fleeting, I jumped at my chance.

I gave her highlights at home, while doing mine. (Of course, I wish mine had turned out as well as hers. The difference? I could see what I was doing on her hair. My own? I overbleached my bangs to a bad white, tried to cover it with a cotton candy pink, I had on hand from last year, that didn’t take. I had to wait till payday and color a solid brown and then bleach again.)

There is a story in the NY Times by Camille Sweeny about the trend for mothers to let their tweens get highlights. My friend Char from WearyParent is quoted.

Jezebel, of course, took issue with the fact that some children are being allowed to have highlights in a story titled, Bikini Waxes, Highlights & ‘Tramp Stamps’: That’s what little girls are made of.

I take issue with the fact that a feminist magazine uses the derogatory term “tramp stamp” in reference to women who get tattooed. Connecting a tattoo with a woman’s sexual promiscuity is like unto the old phrase, “she smokes, she pokes.”

I also think it’s a bit silly to equate hair color with a permanent tattoo. There is nothing permanent about hair, which makes it a harmless way to allow children, tweens and teens to experiment with their style, fashion or look and even rebellion. And the bikini wax – for starters, one is on their head which everyone sees and the other is . . . not. A bikini wax is also rather like torture, while a new hair color is, well – fun.

I allow Ainsley highlights for one reason only – because it’s fun.

Although I do agree with Jezebel, that the direct marketing to children by salons is messed up. I explain why I think so in this story, Girls For Sale.

Some of the hair professionals, in the NY Times story, advise infiltrating school and community functions where they have better access to young girls for their marketing. Gag me with a spoon.
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#1 Summer on 04.07.08 at 3:11 pm

I agree, hair is just hair. It’s the marketing, commercialization, and places like Libby-Lu that are destructive. Just getting a fun cut and color, not so much. But then. I did give my preschooler a pretty righteous mohawk so maybe I can’t talk. LOL

#2 Anonymous on 04.07.08 at 9:10 pm

I had a friend growing up that wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or shave her legs until 7th grade.. no dating until 16, and strict curfew until 19 yrs old..

At the time I thought they were harsh, but now I look back and I can appreciate how they were trying to encourage her to enjoy each stage and not rush things.. that’s pretty healthy I think. What happened to overprotective Dads who flip out when they see their 8 yr old w/ lipstick on?

I’m tired of seeing little girls walking around with words across their butts, with sombre, serious, broody, sexual expressions on their faces, bellies showing, shorts that barely cover their bottoms, heels, and more makeup then I wear.. They’re tan and shaved and plucked and have perfume on and even I have trouble telling the age of some of these girls. That’s not good.

But Tracee, I agree: hair is just hair, I don’t see how highlights are neccessarily provacative or whatever.


#3 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 1:05 am

That was ME! No dating until 16 – no make up till 12, no shaving legs or bra till 7th grade.

In a bizarro form of conformist rebellion I up and got married almost as soon as I was “allowed” to date (I had sooo been dating much before!)

#4 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 1:03 pm

My friend found a way around it by dragging me along – as a weird chaparone of sorts.. I guess her parents thought somehow my 15 year old self would keep them from having sex alone in a car..lol

I had pretty strict parents too, and we were each other’s parents’ friend of choice for that very reason. We resented the hell out of the 11:00 curfews, but now it makes me feel good that my parents at least gave a crap.. Other friends of ours (whose influence our parents were deathly afraid of) were always the popular ones who got to stay out late, have all the fun, etc.. but in reality they were the ones whose parents were wrapped up in their own thing and just didn’t care. I have to wonder how they feel about that as adults.

With my own kids I can see the immense value in appreciating and reveling in childhood – I don’t understand parents who rush their children through it.

#5 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 1:14 pm

Also, what is the point really of a bikini wax for a young girl? That’s VERY disturbing..


#6 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 3:06 pm

Bikini waxing for young girls is very disturbing.

But then, if girls are getting pubic hair at 9 – and wear a swim suit that shows it . . .

Which is more disturbing – that they show pubic hair in public or that they get rid of it?

Do we ban the swim suit (or make them wear shorts over it) because we can’t ban puberty? Do we ban waxing because it’s too “grown up?”

It’s a bizarre set of choices our girls – and their parents – face.

#7 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 3:10 pm

I was an oldest child and my parents were far too extreme, which made rebellion my only option. They were much more liberal by the time my sister was a teenager 6 years later. They FLIPPED over every single thing I did.

My sister turned out better than I did, less rebellion, less need for rebellion. Still lots of structure.

I tell my sister we had completely different parents.

Although, I do share your grown up perspective – at least they gave a damn where I was and what I was doing. I now understand that many parents don’t.

#8 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 3:31 pm

I had a friend who got boobs at 9 – big boobs.. she was the only one with them in our grade..

But here’s the thing – her parents didn’t suit her up in a string bikini for the summer. That’s what the thought of a bikini wax for young girls feels like to me. I see your point about the dilema of it showing or something,.. but it just feels like the waxing is preparing them to pose for playboy shots or something..

#9 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 3:51 pm

I agree the idea of waxing provokes weird feelings. Especially if you’re thinking Brazilian. I’ve written about how gross it is for Nair to market directly to children – http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/12/lourdes-bashing.html

I don’t let my daughter suit up in a string bikini to begin with. She has to wear a one-piece. Because the two-piece falls off easily when being active.

But I have to shave – even in a modest one piece, or I’m going to show some hair. I think most women do something about it. Shave, wax, Nair.

I have a negative memory of realizing my hair was outside my suit when I was about 12. I was trying to tuck it in and talking to the boy I liked. Very embarrassing. I did not wait for permission to take care of that – I took the razor and figured it out myself.

Thus began my long quest to find the right method for a clean bikini line. http://www.blogfabulous.com/clean-bikini-line/
I didn’t give up until last year when I started wearing shorts over my suits.

#10 Violet on 04.08.08 at 3:55 pm

Grown women are waxing off all their pubic hair in droves – is it really that surprising that young women want to be just like us?

I had the strict parents also, and it backfired in a lot of ways. I think you have to walk a fine line between protecting your children and giving them room to experiment. Hair grows back, no biggie.

#11 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 4:03 pm

Am I crazy to hope that my daughter when she’s 10 or so will have no knowledge that grown women are waxing all their pubic hair off in droves?

I didn’t know until I saw porn or when taking requests from partners.

I admit I’ve been caught – by Ainsley – doing it to myself before going to the lake or pool. But, how pervasive is our little girls’ knowledge of Brazilian Wax trends in the general population?

#12 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 4:11 pm

Tracee – that post was the most hilarious thing I’ve seen since the malcolm in the middle forward clip. I still get tickled when I think about it.

Okay but, would it be so bad to let young girls wear shorts, or at least more conservative bathing suits? It seems like we’re just pushing pushing pushing them to be teenagers –

I have boys Tracee, and it seems like we’re supposed to dress them like little frat boys instead of boys. Even when they were babies I felt strong pressure to put them in big boy clothes for an outing instead of the sweet little onesies. Somewhere I think we gotten off track with what’s “cute”…there’s something novel and cutesy about a child in an adult’s clothes – but the clothing manufacturers have decided to make this the norm. It’s yet another way to rush children through CHILDHOOD. My clothing as a child was NOT a smaller copy of what my mom was wearing. My outfits were made for a little girl – hers were made for a grown woman. I had pastel shorts sets, jelly shoes, puffy, lacy church dresses with lacy underwear… She had long skirts, heels, tucked in button downs, big jewelry, pants suits..There’s no difference now. I don’t know WHAT message that sends – but I don’t have a good feeling about it because this is just another area where the timeline is blurred.


#13 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 4:12 pm

Hopefully little girls don’t have any idea what that is – but honestly and sadly if probably depends on how much tv they watch..

#14 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 4:20 pm

I don’t think it would be so bad to have swimwear cut more modestly for girls. But, they would have to be cut like the suits of the 1920s probably. Is that a step backward?

The modern swimsuit is nothing new. I mean, remember the French cut suits from the 80s? They went way up the hip.

They introduced those hipster suits in a 2 piece but they ride into a wedgie and I think you still have to shave.

#15 Anonymous on 04.08.08 at 4:25 pm

But should bathing suit fashion for women always apply to girls’ swimming attire? Isn’t it alright for them to NOT immulate every sexy style Victoria’s Secret comes up with?

All I’m saying is – why shouldn’t there be styles just for children.?


#16 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 4:39 pm

I think there is a common assumption that there is less cause for modesty in young girls.

My parents – definitive NO bikini suits parents – allowed one when I was 2 or 3 (I used that picture to prove it was okay for years).

Girls have no more or less reason to hide their bodies than boys.

I think we’ve raised the expectation about modesty for girls than when I was a kid. Because we’re seeing girls as “sexy” younger and younger. I think it’s because of porn and sexually explicit advertising not because of girls.

My cousin and most other girls were allowed to wear tube tops and halter tops when I was a kid and no one thought anything about it (except my parents, but they were unusually preoccupied with modesty for religious reasons.)

Short shorts were no big deal, neither was a mini-skirt in young children. The younger the child, the less reason they had to cover up is the way I remember it.

I think the difference is our perception and our perception has been altered by explicit advertising. We have a new connotation for “juicy” in connection with girls cause we’ve seen so much porn advertising that says “eat me” over a young girls’ picture.

We see porn ads all over the internet that say “barely legal” and she’s in short shorts and it translates to “short shorts are sexy we should stop letting girls wear them.”

#17 Violet on 04.08.08 at 5:35 pm

Yes, you are crazy :) Okay, naive. I’d venture to guess she has already heard about it from other kids. If not, she will before age 10!

It’s all over beauty mags and tv. Even if you don’t allow Ainsley to watch shows or read beauty mags that reference it, it’s doubtful that all her classmates mothers will do the same.

Oh no, not the shorts over the swimsuit. I’m glad my mom didn’t think of that one. I was only allowed very modest suits though. No bikinis, no french cuts etc. She let me start shaving my legs when I was 12 though.

#18 Violet on 04.08.08 at 5:44 pm

These suits are all the rage among the ultra-modest Mormons:


I can actually imagine my mother making me wear this. I would have been so embarrassed!

#19 Tracee on 04.08.08 at 6:12 pm

Who knew my parents would turn out to be kind of liberal? Those suits are pretty awful.

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