It’s never too soon to start!

// 24 March 2011

In All the Things You See

[Edited to add: Trigger warning: this post involves abusive behaviour towards a child and possible body dysphoria issues]

On the Botox injections and pubic waxing, that is.

Here is a story about a little girl who has been regularly subjected to such procedures since those tell-tale signs of ageing set in on her eighth birthday. (I know it’s a bit rude of me to give a lady’s age away, and so publicly too, but we feminist types are notoriously without an appropriate sense of shame when it comes to these things.)

This little girl is also really looking forward to her breast implants. One can only assume that whatever size it is her breasts will eventually reach without surgical assistance will by definition be too small – because they don’t contain implants, of course.

When will I hear about the first breast implants for babies? Surely pharmaceutical companies need to get cracking on marketing pre-natal beauty products, so that anxious parents can rush out to empty their wallets once they think they’re caring for a female foetus? There’s an important market to cater to here!

I’ve heard some strange arguments, in my time, that “anti-ageing” beauty treatments capitalise on the anxieties women feel about become older – and therefore marginalised and invisible in societies that devalue them and promote an ever more unrealistic vision of idealised youth. It’s also been said that pubic shaving simulates for adult women a return to pre-pubescent youth – and that the popularity of the practice is related to the widespread tendency to infantilise women. How wrong all these people have it! It’s not that women are being judged according to impossible and dehumanising values, since even actual pre-pubescent girls are deficient and need to be fixed, the sooner the better. I mean, what business do they have, developing “fluffy leg hair” as children, and failing to remain “baby-faced” past the age of being, well, babies?

No, no, the problem doesn’t lie in the artificial, stifling and exploitative requirements of beauty. The problem is, quite obviously, women and girls. Women and girls are all wrong, always wrong: and beauty is the answer.

Every three months Kerry Campbell sits her daughter Britney on a beautician’s table and injects botox and fillers into Britney’s face, The Sun reports.

The 34-year-old mum from Birmingham, UK buys the substances online and from a local “beauty supplier”.

She also takes Britney to have her body waxed in a pre-emptive bid to stop her growing hair when she does hit puberty.

“What I am doing for Britney now will help her become a star,” she says.

“I know one day she will be a model, actress or singer, and having these treatments now will ensure she stays looking younger and baby-faced for longer. […]

“She also has her virgin wax monthly, which gets rid of her fluffy leg hair and makes sure she wont develop pubic hair in the future,” said Ms Campbell.

“It will save her a fortune in waxing when she’s older.”

Britney also wants breast enhancements and a nose job soon “so that I can be a star,” the child said.

“My friends think it’s cool I have all the treatments and they want to be like me. I check every night for wrinkles, when I see some I want more injections.”

Image by Thomas Hawk, used under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Laura // Posted 24 March 2011 at 5:25 pm

Wow- child abuse?

Dasha // Posted 24 March 2011 at 6:15 pm

Such actions towards underage girls should be punished by law. The girl in the following article is too young to decide whether she should have any of the procedures performed or not.

Mary Tracy // Posted 24 March 2011 at 9:27 pm

I suppose this doesn’t constitute child abuse, does it?

As for waxing the child so she won’t develop pubic hair in the future… I’m willing to bet it won’t work. And it reminded me of the movie Carrie, with the mother secretly hoping her daughter would never get her period if she avoided telling her about it.

polly // Posted 24 March 2011 at 11:57 pm

It appears from the story that the 8 year old girl and her mother live in the USA. I have no idea whether what the mother is doing is legal there, but I can’t imagine (and would certainly hope) that this wouldn’t be investigated as child abuse if it was taking place in the UK. Apart from anything else Botox is toxic, and can cause harm if used incorrectly or inappropriately.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 25 March 2011 at 10:05 am

Rather than focusing on this particular case we need to take a look at how malestream media and male-dominated beauty industries have successfully promoted the lie that all women are in essence overgrown babies.

This misogynistic message has existed since time immemorial and the lie all women are subjected to as children is that their bodies are innately faulty and always in need of constant monitoring and altering. Needless-to-say male bodies are fine because male supremacy deems them to be the gold standard of what it means to be human.

So rather than blaming this mother which male supremacy wants us to do – focus on the powerful males who constantly promote the lie ‘but you’re worth it as long as you buy my beauty products and subject your body to dangerous chemicals. If that fails why you women can always resort to cosmetic surgery’ and who benefits? Why it is the beauty and fashion industries of course – never women because our bodies are never acceptable as they are to male supremacy are they? It is a deliberate ploy of male supremacy to keep women focused on worrying ‘is my body acceptable to the critical male gaze and I know I must ensure my body is sufficiently “sexually hot” to males because that is my only value and worth.

Such lies ensure that women remain oppressed and continue to be viewed as ‘innately faulty’ because no matter how intelligent a woman is – she is always according to male supremacy just an overgrown baby and that means women are not as intelligent or as capable as men which ensures males continue to be more highly valued than women. That is why it is so hard for women to be accorded dignity and their human rights – because we are adult babies and only want to meet male approval.

What happens when male supremacy declares us to be ‘redundant’ because we are no longer ‘youthful and childlike?’ Well we can be discarded for younger and younger models of course because only men are individuals and human – never women.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 25 March 2011 at 10:53 am

I wonder whether this would constitute child abuse in the UK (not disagreeing on a personal basis though!!)

Botox is used as an effective treatment for certain medical conditions in children (which was what it was developed for), so at some level we have agreed that it is ok to give it to children. So, it really becomes a question about what society thinks is an acceptable ‘beauty’ treatment for children. We do prohibit tatoos for those below 18 (in theory if not practice), but botox isn’t permanent, so arguably has a less significant physical impact on the body. We do allow ear-piercing, sexualised clothing, make-up etc. We do allow ‘girls’ to shave and wax their own legs from whenever they want to do it (currently, it seems from ages 10-12). The creepy bit here is that the mother is imposing it on the child and that she wants it to impact on her adult body- but we also make children eat veg and exercise for their own good and for their adult health, so we aren’t against imposing on children’s bodies. Would the state intervene, when the lines are so blurry?

maggie // Posted 25 March 2011 at 12:07 pm

Polly they are from England and it was reported in The Sun.

This sounds like a piece from The Onion. Is this really true? If it is then it should be investigated. Now!

JP // Posted 25 March 2011 at 12:14 pm

I find it difficult to imagine how this could not be regarded as child abuse. As Polly says, this woman is seriously endangering the physical health of her child.

Hazel // Posted 25 March 2011 at 2:36 pm

The original article in The Sun says they live in San Francisco.

Caroline // Posted 25 March 2011 at 6:13 pm

Given the source of this story, I have to say I’m not 100% confident about its veracity.

If true, it’s hideous, but somehow it just doesn’t have the ring of truth about it to me.

polly // Posted 25 March 2011 at 10:07 pm

Feminist Avatar, as far as I can tell the use of botox is restricted in the UK – cosmetic providers have to be registered with the care quality commission.

So the mother would be breaking the law unless she was a registered practitioner and – arguably – assaulting her child.

Botox is used as a medicine, but this is clearly not a medical use, and if it was, it would have to carried out by a suitable practitioner.

But, as already pointed out, the original Sun article says that the mother and daughter live in San Francisco.

The defintion of child abuse in the UK is fairly broad and includes physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. The giving of botox when not appropriate by an unlicensed person could constitute physical abuse, however I would argue it can also consititute emotional abuse.

“”Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.

It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. “”

I think we can certainly argue that this treatment is inappropriate to the child’s age.

I’m also concerned however for the mental health of the mother in this case – not that I’m seeking to excuse her behaviour in any way, but it would seem that she has personal issues which are affecting her ability to parent a child.

aimee // Posted 26 March 2011 at 11:17 am

I actually feel like crying after reading this… is this what we’re doing to children now?! They’re not just ‘wrong’ when they’re adults, they’re even ‘wrong’ at 8 now?! Their pre pubescent body hair is ‘wrong’ and must be removed? Their future body is ‘wrong’ and must be curtailed as early as possible? That’s SICK! What the hell are we doing to eachother!? This needs to stop.

Kristel // Posted 26 March 2011 at 12:45 pm

I agree with Caroline’s comment.

LB // Posted 27 March 2011 at 10:56 am

Am I the only one who reads this piece as a “joke” -I know thats not quite the right word but I just got up. It seems like a piece that might happen in the future if things are left to continue in the vein that they are at the moment.

Jolene Tan // Posted 27 March 2011 at 11:04 am

@polly and everyone else (because quite a few comments have come in which contain ableist language), can we please refrain in this thread from speculating on the mental health of the mother in the story. We can’t diagnose anything from a news story, and even if we could, I think it’s very problematic to equate controlling behaviour with mental illness and vice versa. Goodness knows there are enough abusive and unpleasant parents with no mental health problems – and plenty of good parents with mental health difficulties. This automatic connection between the two is ableist. Thanks.

Jolene Tan // Posted 27 March 2011 at 11:13 am

There’s been discussion elsewhere on the authenticity of the story. Someone else has found more reason to doubt:

However, “virgin waxes” are definitely a real phenomenon:

Kit // Posted 28 March 2011 at 10:03 am

To those hoping this is a joke, perhaps you should see one of the many programmes on toddler and child beauty pageants in America (there’s one series currently called “Toddlers and Tiaras”). The girls on those programmes look nothing like the ages they’re supposed to be :( I can fully believe there are some mums making their children take part in such things, who’d go even further and get them waxed and give them botox. It’s gross >:(

Louise // Posted 1 May 2011 at 12:55 am

@ Jennifer Drew I really don’t think that you can seriously argue this mother isn’t to blame. Women aren’t helpless beings with no rational thought, and this is clearly something that this child now wants because of her mother’s position on it-not the media’s.

In fact the media is making more money out of presenting this woman as a freak show (as it is doing elsewhere with “My big fat gypsy wedding” beauty pageants and all those other “talent shows” full of kitsch beauty ideals) than it is out of the botox injections she is buying. And our thirst for looking at the most extreme examples of everything all the time in the same tired documentary format which tells you only what was in the previous show and only thinly disguises what people really watch it for : to see the most extreme freak available, is probably something we should be critiquing with a feminist lens. Sorry for the tangent.

Parenting is the one area where women do hold most of the power and while that has often been used to blame women when they didn’t deserve it (as with the cot death cases and the maternal rejection thesis for the cause of autism) this seems to me to be a case of one woman being stupid.

Any woman capable of understanding what a botox injection IS, and how to administer one is capable of understanding that injecting it into your 8 year old child is a bad idea.

Sometimes women are stupid. It goes with being people. And yes, the particular way in which that stupidity manifests itself in this case is gendered, and that is the patriarchy’s fault. But it doesn’t change the fact that the instrument of oppression in this case is the girl’s MOTHER. And yes it is her FAULT. And yes we should blame her.

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