Battlepanda: Club Libby Lu-- what does it all mean?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Club Libby Lu-- what does it all mean?

Hi folks, Katie here. I've been thinking about the spookiness that is Libby Lu for ages. So it's good to see an article taking it seriously in the Washington Post:

Club Libby Lu sells fantasy in 83 locations across the country (including one in
Columbia), and that fantasy is pink and fluffy and smells like "Role Model," a
perfume 7-year-old Vicenza Belletti is right now spraying over and over into her
hair. Libby Lu sells T-shirts and tank tops that say things like "Local
Celebrity" and "My {heart} Belongs to Shopping." Mothers and daughters wander
the aisles, looking at the feather boas and the clip-on hair extensions, at the
sequined handbags, at the Super Smooch Lip Gloss and the Diva Du Shampoo.

Michelle Cox, accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter, Makayla, rolls her
infant son's stroller. She's not here for a party. They're buying Makayla a
purse, but Makayla keeps seeing more things she wants.

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

It would be foolish to ignore a phenomenon like Libby Lu, whose target audience is disturbingly young-- the article mentions girls as young as 3 or 4, and I've never seen anyone remotely close to adolescence shop at the store. It's perhaps part of the same phenomenon as the infamous Bratz dolls, but for some reason it seems to have received less media attention.

Several years back (seven or eight, perhaps?), there was a mania among pre-teen/young teen girls for things like body glitter and navel piercings, and a lot of corresponding articles on "tween" culture and the overt sexualization of girls who hadn't yet reached puberty. At the time, the trend was unnerving enough, but it's gradually seeped down to an age group who knows nothing about chapter books, let alone sex. Stores like Libby Lu take advantage of the enthusiasm small children have for playing dress-up, providing items of a cultural significance that girls this young can't possibly grasp. I wonder where it will all lead.

(I mean, what's next, thongs for toddlers?

Wait, I've already seen that...)