Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Great Girly Fun

My daughter recently went to a birthday party at one of those just for girls makeover places. Neither of us had ever been, and in case you haven’t either, you need to be informed about what is going on under our very noses! Young girls are being dolled-up with make-up, nail polish, ball gowns and glittery hair-do’s and then forced to parade around like fashion models, all the while being told they’re fabulous.

In other words, having great girly fun.

The father of the birthday girl somehow couldn’t make it to the party. He was at home with the siblings, is the excuse I was told, but I know exactly what was going on. All that pink. All that girliness. He was, as my sons so aptly put it when faced with similarly overboard feminine situations, afraid of bursting into flames.

Personally, I’m surprised I didn’t. Dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans with no make-up and my hair in a messy bun, I still can’t believe they let me in the door. Several times throughout the course of the afternoon, the highly-fashionable young ladies, the Party Coordinators, who worked there would glance at me with a concerned look and eyes that said, “Ooh, a total make-over candidate” or maybe just “Doesn’t she give even a little bit of a crap about the way she looks?” All except for the one Party Coordinator who had her perfunctory I’m-so-bored-with-all-this look perfected to the point the only thing missing was a cigarette butt dangling from her lips.

But every one of them was terrific with the birthday party girls, helping them pick out sparkly gowns before doing their hair and make-up. With more blasting Hannah Montana music than a person should ever have to endure in a lifetime, the girls then walked to the end of a runway (yes they had a modeling runway) to strike a pose.

My daughter was so nervous. She’s basically a very shy girl (until she gets to know you, then watch out). When it came time for her to strike her pose, unlike most of the girls who vamped it up with hands high up in the air and hips bumped out, hair tossing, my daughter stiffly stood at the end of the runway. She just stood there. So I said, “Relax, Honey! Have fun!”

And as she walked around to join the back of the line I realized what a total jerk I was. This was not a time for any type of criticism. None at all. This was not about me and my heart aching for her in her uncomfortableness. The next time she came around and posed, in approximately the same way, I applauded wildly. And she gave me a timid smile.

Have you ever been to France, or met a French woman? Have you ever noticed how confident they are, the way they carry themselves? And let me tell you, they’re not all Brigitte Bardot clones over there. My high school French teacher said this was because, from an early age, adults in France instill in young French girls a sense of their own individual beauty. Wow. Wouldn’t that have helped navigate a lifetime of fashion magazines and movie stars?

As quiet as my daughter had been during the entire party, she didn’t stop talking about it the entire way home in the car and she proceeded to tell her father and brothers every detail of the day, which amused my husband no end but almost caused my sons to start smoldering. Later, my husband asked if having young girls aspire to be super models in such a way was a good idea. (I think his mind had already made the leap to freaky beauty pageants, but this was nothing like that.) Initially, I started nodding in agreement with him, Yes, lipstick on nine-year olds is bad. But then I thought about it. Telling young girls they’re beautiful and fabulous is not. Confidence in one’s own inner, and outer, beauty is a good thing. And so is a little glitter. Playing dress-up, with a little lipstick and some nail polish, never hurt anybody.

I stash some lip-gloss in my purse, and vow to keep this in mind the next time I run out the door in my sweatshirt and jeans.


  1. Anonymous5:38 PM

    This is a lesson I could learn as well. We need to prop up our girls to give them that 'confidence.' Great post.

  2. Thank you, Karyn! I know I could have used more of it growing up!

  3. Anonymous8:15 AM

    Vicky Tesmer October 9 at 9:38am I read your blog and thought it was great! Meredith and I spent the summer in Europe - Paris as our base but headed to Dublin, Geneva, and Munich for side trips. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR LINE ABOUT FRENCH WOMEN!!! But my reason for it differs a bit. After seeing all these beautiful, slight, highly coutured french girls and women - Meredith and I felt like Shreks. It wasn't until we got to Munich which was our last city visited before heading back to Chicago, did we feel attractive again! (Our trip began in Dublin. We felt confident of our looks then, believing our height and blond hair were assets!) Not for long, however.

    After a summer of watching massive PDA on the streets of Paris and Parisian girls and women with their noses tilted high towards the Eiffel Tower, we concluded unfortunately, the ladies main reason for their beauty was centuries old - to attract their lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc.! Plus their incessant cigarette smoking - look at the Parisian streets in the morning with thousands of cigarette butts! - makes you think they may be a bit high strung then add to that their diet of a leaf of lettuce and a glass of wine - that perhaps the reason they walk with attitude is - they're starving and miserable!

    Being an American there is something lost but something gained. Since I've been going to France for twenty five years and have great French friends - family really - I can say our society is quite different from theirs not only in the play of yin and yang but also the rules.

    I had a French lover - a french chef - for ten years and I can say from experience french men dominate!

    American women are not as seductive or chic perhaps as the french women, however we have our own savoir faire - like flying a plane or running a company! We tend to value hard work and loyalty above vanity (bar Hollywood), which doesn't leave as much time for primping.

    There is still a huge discrepancy with earning power in France - let's not forget the important stuff. Women earn far better here.

    BTW , we were so glad to come back to America where deoderant is mandatory not optional!) Those beautiful girls do use perfume but that, too, only goes so far. Stand next to one of those nymphs in a croweded Metro train and see if you still remember her beauty!

    Love you, Kim!