March 25, 2006

Finally, A Takedown Of Club Libby Lu

libbylu.jpgFrom the first time I saw it in Tysons Corner Mall--the cheap one, not Tysons II across the street; but hey, what can you do? You go where the Ranch One Chicken is--I swore my daughter will never set foot in Club Libby Lu. It's a skanky, trampy little makeover store that turns tiny girls [they say 5-12, but there are 3yo's in the story] into glittery, prancing Paris Hilton wannabes. It stamps otherwise normal suburban girls with presumably responsible, intelligent parents with a rural middle school drill team instructor's vision of glamour, one birthday party at a time.

My usual approach to this kind of white trash cultural blight is to ignore it--or stare in disbelief at it on ESPN2 in the middle of the night. Which is why I haven't posted a remorseless takedown of it these last two years.

But my back is killing me today; the Robutussin's making the kid buzz instead of drowse, my wife's gone to London for a conference--and the Washington Post just did a remarkably even-handed-yet-still-damning [how can it not be?] article on this hot Hollywood-inspired phenomenon, so how could I resist? Especially when the CEO of Club Libby Lu headfaked the reporter and backed out of an interview in a predictably spineless way. She knows what it is, and she's still selling it.

How I'll go about maintaining this ban on Club Libby Lu, et al, especially in the crucial years to come, is still TBD. I mean, without saying anything to her one way or the other, the kid's already declared purple to be her favorite color. I think the main thing will be to stay out of malls, which I'm happy to do. You dads out there with the lawns and the driveways...I don't know what to tell you. Good luck.

Glamour Babes [washingtonpost]


Okay, that's freakin' scary, especially as the dad of a daughter. Never heard of that before. Ugh.

But being over in Cali in a suburban-sprawl of a town that votes Outback Steakhouse as "best restaurant" in the readers' poll (double ugh), I'm more intrigued by you going to a hated MALL-type establishment for something called "Ranch One Chicken." Do tell!

{Ranch 1? It's "the greatest grilled chicken on earth." A NYC classic. Why it's in a mall in Virginia, I don't know, but I'm all for it. -ed.]

I feel queasy, very queasy. Oh look, our emesis basins are pink. Really they are.

Suddenly, I don't feel so bad about living in the boonies, free from scary places like that. (Although, I am sure it's on the way.)

Among my favorite lines in the article:

"You don't need any more lip gloss," her mom tells her

MORE lip gloss? For a 3-year old?

I heard a horror story from an unsuspecting Dad who sent his daughter off to a birthday party only to have her returned dressed as Britany Spears. He also described his outrage at seeing several awkwardly heavy pre-teen girls packed into glittery hip-huggers and cropped tops and then forced to perform in front of the group.

I'm not going to worry. Libby Lu is expanding to two of my local seen-better-days malls - fortunately, both an hour's drive away. At any rate, my area seems to be where fast-growing mall-based retail chains jump the shark and start the downhill slide toward irrelevance. Libby Lu's will be toes-up in five years.

As a libby lu employee, I am still shocked when I hear people say things like "they sell thongs to little girls" which of course is NOT true. There is nothing wrong with a store where girls can play dress up (you didn't mention that our #1 selling item is a PRINCESS dress). That Club libby Lu donated an insane amount to St. Jude's cancer research hospital, or that we have been supporting Girl scouts of America for years now. Your the type of parent who doesn't let his daughters play with barbie because she isn't realistic. It's a doll! Blame yourself when your children hate you for being so over protective. Times are changing grandpa.

[actually, I complained about selling lip gloss to 3-yo's; the thong thing is what's known as a straw man argument, which isn't helped by pointing out princess dresses, st. judes, OR the girl scouts, any more than overtreated straw hair is helped by finger curls and glitter. And as for your ad hominem personal criticism, if you actually paid attention, I'm the kind of parent who doesn't want his kid tranformed into a tacky mall-prowling skank who lets her taste and sense of self-worth be defined by mainstream shopping culture. I see your self-unaware point, but I'm a snob, not a prude. -ed.]

ok well i have taken my daughter to club liby lu u can take her and u tell them not so much gliterr and dont want costmes i brought her clothes i aways do that they dont mind i take her for hairtyles pooch parlor and nails done and only lip gloss btw my daughter is only 12 so thats good and she is very smart and knows whats wrong she is disguisted by lots of makeup but she loves girly things execept the costumes the only way to get over it is we laugh about it look at those girls she has wayy to much make up on! and we all laugh its fun!

Its amazing that most men who scoff at these types of things are the Same men who gawk and drool over the Victoria's Secret Runway show, or who take their family to 'Hooter' because 'it's a family restaurant' etc.
Little girls Love sparkles and girly things. Thats what makes us girls. It doesn't mean they will become less intelligent, unless they keep observing their daddie's gawk and praise the paris hilton's, britney spears, etc etc etc, and grow up thinking to be admired that they 'Have' to look and behave a certain way to feel beautiful. Geesh just get over it and let girls be girls. We took our five year old neice to libby lu and she had a blast. All it is is 'Wholesome' dress-up. No lingerie, or indecent costumes. You pick a theme, princess, rocker etc..and the girls there fix your hair, put a few stickers on your face, then you can play sing or create a stuffed animal ala build a bear. Men take little boys to football games where they gawk at the cheerleaders and drink beer. That Sure is wholesome.*sarcastic*

[I really need to start checking ID's before allowing comments on this post. -ed.]

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. I was browsing, and came upon this particular page by accident. Please delete my post. I thought this was an open forum to discuss the topic that you, the owner, initiated. I just now noticed your blog is specifically for new dads only. Have a good and safe holiday.

Right on brother... Having a daughter changed everything for me. Before I merely disdained BS and her ilk, now I see her as an out and out threat. It's not that I want my baby girl (28 days!) to stay virginal for her whole life, but the whole culture of sexualization of pre-teens makes me sick.

I'm already plotting on how to raise my daughter to be enough of a snob to reject this crap and yet down to earth enough that I can tolerate her.

"I'm already plotting on how to raise my daughter to be enough of a snob to reject this crap and yet down to earth enough that I can tolerate her."

I have a little neice that has competed in pageants since she was very little. Your close-minded self would probably find this unthinkable to even do. These girls probably wear way more makeup than the girls at CLL's do (although, not glitter, that would be tacky in pageants, just different eyeshadows) They put lipstick on, lipgloss, eyeshadow, eyelashes, mascara, and minimal eyeliner (all put on by a very good makeup artist). They also put their hair in curlers, then, take them out and tease them.

I just have to say that I my little neice is the most well behaved and unselfish little girl I have ever met, and I am not just saying that because I am her aunt--I have alot of bratty nephews as well. She is extremely outgoing due to pageants and will talk to anyone. She loves everyone she meets and has the biggest heart for a little girl. Taking a girl to CLL for a special occasion or letting them compete in pageants should not affect how down to earth they will turn out to be. How YOU RAISE your child on a DAY-TO-DAY BASIS WILL AFFECT how your child will turn out to be, though.

I have also done pageants since I was little, and it hasn't affected me one bit. I don't think wearing makeup at 2,3,4,5,6 or 7 is something that is that bad! I did not make me into a crazy adult or anything like that. You shouldn't judge without deep and thorough FIRST hand research.

Oh, and I only included my experience with pageants because it was somewhat similar to CLL. Also, to the next person who says that it is horrible for a parent to "push" their child in a pageant (because I promise, someone will). I wasn't pushed, nor is my neice. I SWEAR, if a kid does NOT want to do something, they WONT do it, no matter how much you push and bribe them. Do you know how stubborn a kid is?? You might be able to tell a kid to go in a corner when they are upset, crying, yelling, and acting up, but if they do not want to go on stage and compete, there is no way the child can put on a big natural smile and perform a routine. A parent will also NOT pay BIG bucks to buy ALL the outfits, pay for hair/makeup, coaching, the pageant fees (which can get up to 3000+), lodging at the pageant, wiglets/hair falls, pictures (which are about 2500-3000 total)..if the kid does not want to compete.

[a 2, 3, 4, 5-yo has no ability to make a rational, informed decision about what she "wants" to do, especially for something as all-encompassing as pageants. It is a lifestyle, a family/parental activity, and for a kid, it is their reality. Reality that is formed by the parents. Does a baby choose which wiglets to wear? How she does her makeup? My daughter does not know what pageants are. (of what CLL is, for that matter) How does a 2-yo find out what the thrill of being onstage is? She's introduced and prepped and prodded into it. From the outside, the pathologies of pageants are obvious, just as they are invisible/imaginary from the inside, I'm sure. Suffice it to say, it will not be an option for my kids. -ed.]

a 2, 3, 4, 5-yo has no ability to make a rational, informed decision about what she "wants" to do,
That is true, but they do have the ability to make a decision about things that they LIKE and enjoy doing. Pageants do not hurt a kid in any way because each kid receives a crown, banner, and toys--so they never feel like they lost. They make MANY friends, and it actually helps the child gain confidence to get up in front of many people (--this would be later on in life, and I know this first hand since I have done them since I was little, and I am now 35)

Other parents put their little kids in mini cheerleading, softball--those kind of sports. I know in cheerleading they put makeup and glitter on their faces, I've seen it--what's the difference? They go on stage, wear makeup, perform. Albeit, they are judged on a few different things in pageants--such as their outfit, hair..etc BUT they are BOTH judged on how well they performed while on stage. I've judged many pageants before, I know what they score on, do not try to correct me.

How does a 2-yo find out what the thrill of being onstage is?
They find the thrill when people are clapping and yelling their name out in an encouraging manner. After years of being on stage in front of many people, later in life it becomes easier for them (and myself) to get up in front of many people without getting so nervous before.

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