BUENOS AIRES – Girls in the 5-13 age group are increasingly inviting friends to parties at spas, a booming fad in Argentina that child psychologists warn can lead to the “early sexualization” of young females.
Spa time in special rooms or at girls’ homes features makeup and hair styling, massages, manicures and pedicures, and fashion shows.
Girls “are pushed to skip developmental phases and activities linked to the building of their psyche and subjectivity, they are pressed into something else, the early sexualization they are not ready to handle,” Maria Ines Pastore, of the Childhood and Teenage Psychiatry and Psychology Association, or ASAPPIA, told EFE.
Pastore and her colleagues contend the fad is being “driven by adults” who do not take into account age differences and girls’ psychological development levels, leading girls to “consider their bodies as the top priority.”
This may lead girls to feel “anxiety about keeping their bodies in perfect condition,” and a refusal to accept the passage of time, ASAPPIA experts said.
“Spa party” is “the option most demanded” by families, said Romina Yñiguez, owner of Angeles y Glamorosas.
Yñiguez was one of the first business owners to offer spa entertainment for children in Buenos Aires.
As the public “becomes increasingly demanding,” Yñiguez said her company must respond by offering a variety of options, but she argued that “there is nothing wrong” with entertainment sessions presented as games or workshops that can even help younger girls learn about personal hygiene.
“We focus on this as games and not trying to perpetuate a stereotype of what a woman is, I don’t consider it to be that way,” said Eleonora Valladares, owner of Fiesta de Princesas.
Parents who pay for these parties say there is nothing harmful in them, an opinion shared by Nadia Sosa, the mother of a 6-year-old girl.
After attending one such party, the girl asked to celebrate her 6th birthday at one of the spas, and Sosa agreed.
“It was all like a game, artistic and aimed at young girls,” Sosa said. “There was nothing adult about it and it was a satisfying experience that the girls enjoyed a lot.”