Saturday, March 25, 2006

TMDI, Part Deux*

Upon seeing the Post's Style section this morning, I immediately thought, "I'm going to have to write a nice, long post on this Libby Lu thing."

There's a Club Libby Lu in at least one of the nearby malls, and when it first opened I just rolled my eyes and walked on by. This article, though, does a good job hinting at why this store really... and I mean really... creeps me out.

After the makeovers, the club counselors, as they're known, lead the girls [some of whom are as young as 3 and 4] in a dance, teaching them to "shimmy down" and to "shake it, shake it." ... Here, the girls fling one arm theatrically toward the ceiling. The song on the store stereo says: "Wet your lips/And smile to the camera."

It made me think of the South Park episode where all the 9-year-old girls decided they wanted to start emulating Paris Hilton. Especially because the article mentions Hilton:

They come here for the makeover parties, which start at $21.50 per girl, and they stay at least an hour, and they buy. They mix and bottle their own skin- and hair-care products. They head over to the corner known as Pooch Parlor, pick out miniature stuffed dogs, dress them in miniature T-shirts that say things like "The Royal Heiress," and carry them in "couture" dog carriers, just like Paris Hilton.

So, here I was, getting all pissy and starting to yell into the other room at my husband (who was quietly and unobtrusively engaging in his fantasy baseball live draft) about this store and why I will never let our daughter go to a birthday party there.** And then, I thought, that would really be unfair to my daughter if she was invited to a friend's party and I kept her from going. I wouldn't keep her from going to any other type of event. And I probably am odd in that I had no desire to even mess around with makeup until I was 11 or 12. So at this point in reading the article, I was still ambivalent and queasy on the issue of the relative harms of allowing my (non-existent) daughter to set foot in a Libby Lu.

And then I finally came to the end of the article, which inspired the title of this post:

At a table in a corner, a redheaded 8-year-old named Lexy Battista is getting a makeover.

"She made honor roll," says her mom, Megan.

Lexy comes here a lot. She had her eighth birthday here -- 25 girls getting "The Super Star" makeover with hair extensions, at a cost of more than $500. They arrived in a stretch limo: $600.

"It had a disco ball, huh, Lex?" says her mother. "This year you want a Hummer."

Mmmhmmm. $1,100 spent on a birthday afternoon for an 8-year-old girl. These are the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, .... What's really sickening is how it's not the girl who is happily and excitedly telling the reporter about the limo's disco ball (and she certainly didn't tell the reporter that her birthday cost more than a cool thou). This mother is standing in Libby Lu, bragging (and there's no other word for it) about the extravagances she is bestowing on her girl. It's the mother mentioning the price tag and the disco ball. And the comment about the Hummer isn't a question posed to her daughter; it's an imperative ("This year you want a Hummer.").

So, while I was feeling ambivalent and torn about my non-existent daughter going to Libby Lu, now I feel strong in my convictions that she must stay away, if only to avoid women like this (at least until she's old enough that Mommy can explain why there is something so very very wrong with them).

* My previous post on the TMDI (too much disposable income) phenomenon is here.

** For those who haven't heard, I am currently living up to my moniker 100% again. Don't know whether it will be a daughter or a son, but if television has taught me anything, the order goes boy, girl, boy, etc. (See, e.g., "Growing Pains," "Mr. Belvedere.")


Anonymous Lisa V said...

This is when I'm glad we live in the unsophisticated West. I've never heard of this place, or the concept even.

The nearest we come is make-up counters at girl's clothing stores.I have been always a killjoy and not even let me kids do that. Lip gloss is doled out only on special occassions. Apple (who is 14) still only wears lip gloss. My daughters wouldn't go. We would make gracious excuses to the hostess and birthday girl, send a nice gift, but be busy. I would explain to my kid why she wasn't going,and hope she would understand. I have found my kids do understand most of the time.

I wondered if this was your coming out post! In the Vindauga house it goes, girl, girl, girl, boy. But then we swear too much to have our own sitcom.

Congratulations again!!

12:06 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Addy N. said...

I've been lurking for a short time, but thought I would speak up today. Congratulations on your 'status'! How many kids do you have already (I haven't read all of your archives).

I was quite disturbed by that Libby Lu thing- I checked and the nearest one to me is about 2 hours away. It's not even the money that disturbs me the MOST about it- but encouraging girls to be superficial, materialistic, consumers is very disturbing. We live in a small town, so we'll never have one of those here- of course, they could open one in the nearest mall (about 30 minutes away) eventually.

Keep up the great blogging!

P.S. I hope you are not feeling sick or anything. I had fairly wicked morning sickness with my daughter...

6:49 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Songbird said...

I think I'm going to be sick, APL. The Princess once went to a last day of school manicure party. It was at the Cosmetology School and cost $5 per girl, and I didn't even like that. Bleh.
And, it's Boy Boy Girl at our house.

7:42 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Simba's Mom said...

That place scares me too.

Congrats on the new addition!

8:42 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh my frickin' god. Thank you so much for this one, APL. You are our early warning system. We just had a nice long family conversation about how Baby Blue will never be allowed to go to a party at Club Libby Lu.

10:09 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Gina said...

Congratulations, APL!

I actually walked right by a Libby Lu yesterday and had no idea what dastardly plans they had for the girls of America. Hold me, I'm scared.

11:19 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger LawMom said...


12:20 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger liz said...

Congratulations on "coming out"!

Statisticly if you already have a child of one sex, you are likely to have another child of the same sex.

12:36 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger KLee said...

I have never even heard of this place. Thank the gods we are behind the times on this one. It souds perfectly dreadful. And you're absolutely right about the parents with TMDI. Ick!

Oh, and congrats again about the bun in the oven! :) I hope you get what you wish for! Although at our house, it's just "girl."

12:41 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger reverendmother said...

I read that article too--and I had the exact same reaction: ambivalence that turned to disgust at that Hummer quote.

1:19 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger jo(e) said...


And as for the Libby Lu thing -- ugh.

I don't think I know any parents who would allow their kids to go to such a party, but the thought that parents would actually PAY for that kind of thing really amazes me.

1:20 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Jenevieve said...

Oh, sick.

While I am a person who usually has to pay up the wazoo for jeans (what, old navy doesn't carry a 37" inseam? why not?), I think that this TMDI thing is nuts.

I went to a prep school, and I loved the looks of horror and disgust that the other kids would give me as I pulled my (lemon) old Ranger in next to their Escolades and BMWs. They thought I would infect them!

And congrats on the status! I, for one, hope it's a girl so there can be a parent like you to combat parents like Megan Battista.

2:02 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger kenju said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! You-know-who didn't tell me that! I do hope you have your girl this time. And please do all you can to combat the likes of the Battista woman! You know they might not have TMDI, either, they may be up to the eyeballs in debt!

6:27 PM, March 26, 2006  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Congratulations!!! How are you feeling?

I saw that article in the Post. How very scary.

I have a 6 year old daughter...but she wouldn't go to a place like that, ever. She is much to busy playing with dinosaurs and insects and mud and worms. She won't even wear a dress.

Still, that article and the quote by that mother gave me the chills.

6:33 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger liz said...

Go Mason!

7:10 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Lawmummy said...


8:59 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

Ok, that store just ticks me off!

Anyway, congrats girl! Can't wait to find out who the latest addition is!

9:23 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Bridget said...

Hi- I'm a new blogger but i love your post and just had to write.

I have heard of this place. I used to live in Minneapolis- home of "The Mall of America" so we had all kinds of atrocities. Now we are living in Ireland, but it is still my constant hope that my son and any future children are never even aware of the existence of such a place.

5:36 AM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous terrilynn said...

Congratulations! What happy news.

I read that article yesterday and then wished I hadn't. Besides the obvious TMDI implications, the whole sexualization of little girls just turns my stomach. And anyone who finds Paris Hilton a role model for anything other than DON'T BE LIKE THIS is a whackaloon.

10:03 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Hurray hurray congratulations! I can't wait to hear what #2 is. No matter, I'm sure this baby will be as adorable as AB.

This article is BEYOND disturbing. I'm so upset and sickened.

11:22 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Quinn said...

Go APL and your growing fandambly! And go George Mason!

11:36 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger liz said...

Can I steal the term whackaloon? I love it.

12:10 PM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

The article was so appalling - especially exactly the part you cited, with the stretch limo and the Hummer. WHAT are these people thinking?

J. saw me reading the article and asked me about it -- without ranting about inappropriate sexualization of children etc., I said it was a place that did birthday parties for girls that made them look like "that" (pointing to the picture, with disdain), and J. was just horrified that some of his classmates might some day have a party there.

Dressing up is one thing -- I'd happily sponsor a dress-up party (though hopefully not with makeup, when we're talking early grades -- and even preschoolers in this article, which is what I found really ooky). But carrying little dogs in purses like vapid socialites? Dressing up like Baby Bratz (the worst of the dolls I've seen) and being told to "shake your booty"? SO wrong.

(and GOOOOOOO Mason!)

1:13 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Congratulations, APL!

And I suppose even I am rooting for Mason, now. :)

2:02 PM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous Amy said...

Libby Lu is alive and kicking in my town and has been for a few years. Of course, in a world where we have to choose between Buzz Lightyear and Disney Princesses for our toddler's diapers, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

It horrifies me on so many levels, but even worse, to me, is that the TMDI thing isn't always what it looks like on the surface. We know too many families with huge debts who still think they have to buy all this crap for their kids--maybe it's Wanna Act Like We Have Too Much Disposable Income?

6:55 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Summer said...

Congratulations!! Can't wait to read about stories of your new little one and AB's "big brother" stories!!

9:23 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger kiwi said...

In defense of Libby Lu...

Like you, I grew up with no desire to ever don makeup. Even now as an "adult," I only put the stuff on maybe 2 or 3 days a week. I preferred grass stains and a baseball mitt to all things girly.

But, through some genetic mutation, my little princess popped out pure girly girl. Nothing on earth delights her more than dresses and sparkles. She doesn't even watch girly TV -- Jimmy Neutron or Gilmore Girls or the Discovery Health channel. (Who knew abdominal surgery could be so fascinating to a kid so delighted by daintiness?!)

She's done the Club Libby Lu makeover thing a few times and she loves it. Never a party, mind you -- and I'm not sure how anyone justifies $25 per kid for more than just their own kid. But don't let the TMDI parents who bring their kids in a Hummer or the parents who would bring 3 and 4 year olds to "shimmy down" color your total perception. Some kids (and their parents) aren't there for the sexualization of the little girls but simply for the good old-fashioned allure of sparkly things.

Congrats on the impending new arrival!

9:01 AM, March 28, 2006  
Anonymous Kristen said...

YIKES! I found you through mamazine. I had not heard of these "lovely" establishments - although it doesn't surprise me. We have way to strong of an emphasis on pop culture for our daughters.

I have to search far and wide to find typical kids clothes that don't involve halters and cutoffs for a 20-month old.

Thanks for enlightening me. I'll be on the lookout now.

11:00 AM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Yankee T said...

Pukin' like I've got morning sickness over here...

11:57 AM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Mommygoth said...

I'm going home to dress my daughter up like a boy. Is it too late to convince her that boys have vaginas and girls have peni? UGH! Congrats on the pregnancy, tho.

1:02 PM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger D-Day said...


5:19 PM, March 28, 2006  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Yay, you outed yourself! Congrats again!

This concept is really gross. I don't think I would have any trouble not letting Frances attend such a party--any more than I would have not letting her go to a strip club or sneak into an R-rated movie when she's 8 years old. Like our mothers always said to us, just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, are you going to jump too?

7:25 AM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger mc said...

Holy crap, that is scary. I'm really glad this place hasn't made it to Maine yet, though I'm sure there are other things just as insidious here. And congrats again on your pregnancy! What great news!

8:07 AM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

I can't pick my jaw up off my keyboard long enough to type much of a comment.

11:14 AM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

No wonder they have attitudes of entitlement by the time they get to college.

9:21 PM, March 29, 2006  
Anonymous heidi said...

Came Via POW...Can this be for real?! Who ARE these people that hope thier children aspire to be Paris Hilton? WTF?

11:35 AM, March 30, 2006  
Blogger Jody said...

I'm just sticking my fingers in my ears and humming la-la-la-la really loudly to avoid thinking about that Libby Lu thing. I'm moving right onto the cool part of the post, which is: Congratulations! You hadn't mentioned this before, had you? Because I'm so behind with blog reading, I could have missed it....


1:50 PM, March 30, 2006  
Blogger pink letter law said...

I WISH that I had TMDI!!!!! That being said, this whole Libby Lu thing is completely foreign to me. I can assure you that I live in a Libby Lu Free Zone (Vermont). Hopfully it will still be a Libby Lu Free Zone when I start a family in a few years. Although I am a huge fan of all things pink, and although my name (Sara) means Princess, I am not a fan of what Libby Lu means for little girls. What will we do when little girls stop wanting to be lawyers, teachers, doctors, and chefs and instead dream of shopping all day, every day?

2:16 PM, April 02, 2006  
Blogger jen said...

I think, actually, that it's really TMAC - "Too Much Available Credit." My bet is that Aunt MasterCard is really the one paying for that little girl's birthday party.

Congratulations on your little one on-the-way.

3:45 PM, April 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! You know on another board we both read, people would be interested to hear the news too, but I'll let you do the honors :)


11:37 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger liz said...

Yipes. I just saw your comment on CD's site that you were getting bombarded with pro-LibbyLuers. And holy guacamole, here they are. What a buncha wackaloons.

I'm so impressed by their logic. Look! So brave! Tiny little anonymice.

I'm completely squicked out.

4:03 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger BernieRA said...

I'm a dad with an 8 year old girly girl. She would love this joint, and I have no problem with it.

However, she would tell me that $21.50 is a lot of money for that deal. I would have to convince her it was okay for a treat. She would also never ask for a party knowing it would break the bank.

The place in and of itself is OK. Unfortunately, anyone can have a child (no license required- even hairdressers need a license!) and they are woefully unprepared to make them into humans. Parents who don't think they need to set limits are ruining an entire generation of children, and may well have a devastating effect on future generations as well.

I'm a middle school assistant principal. I see it all day, every day. It terrifies me.

11:49 PM, June 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 3yr old DD went to a party at Libby Lu this afternoon. When we got there, she got to choose an outfit to dress up in: a fairy or an immodest pop singer. She choose the pop singer one, influenced mostly I think by the birthday girl, who already had one.

This outfit gave me the willies. Low pants with sequins, and a matching one-shouldered belly shirt. My poor little one kept trying to tuck the top into her pants as I watched ten other little girls, between the ages of 3 and 8, run around with their navels hanging out.

Long story short, by the time we got out of there, she was wearing make-up and pink hair extensions. I wasn't even sure I wanted her daddy to see her like that. Like I said, I don't mind a little dress up, but who are we imitating here? Pop singers, movie stars, and Paris Hilton (what exactly does she do, anyway? She seems pretty much famous for nothing) who live thoroughly disgustingly lives completely out of touch with the real world. She can pretend to be a princess, or a fairy, but please not Britney Spears.

I thought the mixing your own lotion or lip gloss bit was fun, but they had every beauty aid under the sun, all in glittery packaging. Since when does a child need a facial? Body butter? Perfume spray?

They were not asked to shimmy and shake, btw. They did the Limbo.

Bottom line: There are cheaper ways do to the fun dress up things at home without making our children into mini hoochie mamas. And there are much better things to get them to think about than their outward appearance. I wouldn't necessary ban her from ever going to a party there again, but I wouldn't take her there otherwise. And there are definitely better things to spend any extra money (???) I might have.

1:18 AM, February 18, 2007  

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