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Club Libby Lu

We went to Tysons Corner Center this weekend to let my eldest son spend his allowance money on Legos. And boy, did we get an eyeful. Walking through the food court were about a dozen girls with their hair teased sky-high and their faces covered in more makeup than I've worn in my lifetime.

I made a mental note wondering why there was a group of girls with such odd hairdos, then let it slip my mind and moved on. As we approached the Lego store, a light bulb flashed: right next door was Club Libby Lu.

I've read plenty about Club Libby Lu in the past, but nothing could have prepared me for this sight. Young girls dressed in crop tops and tight pants parading around the store striking sexy poses with boas. This is not appealing and it's not appropriate -- and it's not something I wanted my boys to see as we were entering the Lego store. It makes me thankful that I have only boys.

Plus, tween girls now have another reason to nag their parents to go to Club Libby Lu: Disney's smash TV show "Hannah Montana" has partnered with Club Libby Lu to provide Hannah Montana-inspired products. And the club's holding a sweepstakes to win a trip to the set of "Hannah Montana."

So, parents of girls, please explain this one. What parents have let their girls go to Club Libby Lu and why? And which ones of you have rejected the notion of going there outright? How have your girls responded to that?

Today's Talkers: Wikiality in My Classroom ... When Moms Take Leave, Bosses See Opportunities ... Pediatricians Voice Anger Over Costs of Vaccines ... We Protect Our Kids From Everything But Fear

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 26, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Tweens
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Comments


My daughter went there for a party and got HEAD LICE! Apparently it's completely unregulated. It's not a hair salon, since they don't cut hair -- so they're not required to have a license, nor are they subject to health department regulations for hair salons. Did you know they don't even have a sink for washing off the combs and things before they use them on the next girl? They use 'hand sanitizer'. I found this out after all the girls in my daughters class got head lice. Pee-yuw! Don't go there!

Posted by: Rather Not Say | March 26, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing that! Now I have even more reasons to keep my daughters and their friends out! And the prospect of head lice will gross them out enough to cut the arguments.

Posted by: Blithe | March 26, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I have two daughters, ages 5 and 8. Fortunately, we have not been invited to any parties at the "club". I hope that if we are invited that I will be able to explain to my girls why they cannot attend. I do plan to take my girls on a walk by at some point to explain "trashy" and inappropriate dressing to them.

We have our fair share of sparkly t-shirts, but our rule is no words on the shirts. We are not billboards. My girls have to learn to respect themselves and understand that what they wear is how people will perceive them.

As a parent, and a mother, it is a complicated path. I wear makeup, high heels and pretty clothes (not all the time!) and I take pride in my appearance. That said, it is well within the bounds of taste -- and that is what I want to teach my girls.

Little girls like sparkly, colorful, feather covered -- generally tacky things -- usually in flourescent colors. It is my job as a parent to teach them that these are merely marketing techniques directed at the lowest common deonominator and not appropriate for who they are and who they wish to become.

Posted by: AKB | March 26, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I have a daughter and have been waiting for the invitation for one of these parties. Thankfully, none of her friends have done it. I have made such a point of throwing gender-neutral parties (swimming, gymnastics) involving exercise that this idea is sickening. The head lice is great to know. It will be my key to refusing as well. Thanks so much for sharing. So sorry you had to deal with lice!

Posted by: PT Fed Mof 2 | March 26, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Fortunately, we don't live in the DC area, so I don't need to worry about this unless Libby heads south. I would have a really hard time with letting my daughter to go to a party there. I'm wondering if any parents on this blog have ever told a child he/she can't go to a birthday party because of the venue or something (although I suspect that if it came to that, I'd tell a white lie and say we were going to be out of town).

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 26, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I have taken 2 of my girls to Libby Lu and I agree that some of the clothing is inappropriate however my girls know that I am the parent and what I say goes. When we went I didn't just let them run wild in the store and put on any and everything they wanted, they selected what they wanted to wear and I approved or disapproved. If I disapproved I told them why it was inappropriate. I did the same with the make-up (they had minimal on just some glitter and lip gloss) and the hair. I will say this about the hair if anyone does decided to go, don't let them do it!!! We are African American and the people who work there are only familiar with Caucasian hair they were literally tearing and ripping my daughters hair until I told her that is not how it should be done, I actually complained on the girl because if this service is going to be offered they should be familiar with ALL hair types.

Overall I let me kids go there with my supervision because they wanted to go so badly. I am personally not fond of it and would not go again, funny thing is my girls have not asked to go back I think it was just something that they wanted to experience so they wouldn't feel left out when having conversations about this with their friends. Although I agree with most parents about Libby Lu I think we all need to keep in mind who the parents are, us. Yes they have make-up and racy clothes there but it is up to us to show our daughters what is appropriate and what is not. Just because they go doesn't mean that they get to wear a crop top and a ton of make-up, lol! ;)

Posted by: Angela | March 26, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

At age 3 to 4, my daughter liked to pretend she was a Disney princess. At 5 to 6, it was a rock star. That's what Club Libby Lu does, for an hour they get to do the over-the-top dress-up stuff they don't do at home. My daughter has been a couple of times, and then was totally over it. I tend not to make a huge deal out of stuff like that -- I find it blows over much more quickly than if I decide to make it a crusade.
So yes, my daughter went to Club Libby Lu a couple of times. You know what I *wouldn't* let her do, though? Read your blog.
I'm not sure how I could explain to her why a *woman* would write such a thing as "makes me thankful I only have boys."

Posted by: NoVa Mom | March 26, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Lowest Common Denominator?! Please. Man, you people all need to lighten up. Kids don't stay hooked on Thomas and Dora forever.

My 8-year-old daughter's Brownie Troop had a party there. Their troop leader let them pick a place (skating, gymnastics, etc.) to celebrate all of their hard work selling cookies and that's where they wanted to go.

They had a great time and I don't think any of them have winded up becoming "trashy" since their visit last month.

Listen, little girls like to dress up. Little girls like to have their hair done and little girls LOVE it when someone lets them put on makeup for fun.

Too bad about the head lice. That really does stink but it could have just as easily happened at a Science Museum exhibit.

For those of you who say things like -- I hope they do get invited so I can explain to them why they can't go -- I hope you do have to explain why they can't go to a harmless party where they get to dress up. What exactly would you say though? That they can't go because Mommy is a snotty and uptight woman who likes to suck the fun out of life? I bet their Daddy's would agree with that too.

The problem with Club Libby Lu isn't the outfits or makeup, it's the over-the-top marketing to this age group of 8- to 12-year-old girls that bothers me. But Club Libby Lu is certainly not alone in making such an obnoxious pitch to these girls. So does Claires, Limited Too, Disney, etc.

This Hannah Montana contest is a perfect example of extreme marketing to tween girls. My daughter loves watching Hannah Montana and I let her go online to enter this contest. I thought that would be the extent of it. But no, you can't enter online at disneychannel.com -- only download the form. Then you have to fill it out and take it to Libby Lu's to enter. Sneaky. It's sitting on my kitchen counter all filled out and ready to go (if we make it back to the mall before the deadline).

Posted by: JGO | March 26, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not sure how I could explain to her why a *woman* would write such a thing as 'makes me thankful I only have boys.'"

Now, now. She wasn't saying boys are superior to girls, only that boys aren't subject to the same pressures to be over-sexualized at an early age as girls are. Mothers of boys, therefore, have less stress with respect to managing such things.

And Libby Lu crosses the line for me. It's pedophile bait, pure and simple. Don't you wonder who's looking at your daughter when she's walking around the mall dressed like that - and who might want to take advantage if they see a chance?

"Dress-up" is pretend - pretending to be what you're dressing up as. And personally, I think there's a big difference between encouraging your daughter to dress up as a cowboy, rock star, doctor, teacher, pioneer, etc., and encouraging her to dress up as a prostitute. (Although I grant you, the line between "rock star" and "prostitute" has been thin as of late.) If it's just a couple of times until she gets tired of it, that's one thing, but I really worry about kids who are dressed like that all the time. I'm no prude, believe me. But there's something really, really creepy about pre-pubescent girls being encouraged towards "sexy" looks and "sexy" actions.

Frankly, Libby Lu aside, I (a feminist, who loves my own gender and who's always wanted a daughter) was very glad I was having a boy when I walked through the kids section at my plain old local department store. What on Earth does a toddler need with hip-hugger studded jeans and a T-shirt with "Juicy" on it? They don't even have hips for the jeans to hug yet! Whereas for my son, they had adorable little overalls with puppies and frogs and dinosaurs on them. If I'd had a girl, I'd've bought her the boys' overalls, too.

Posted by: Katja | March 26, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Low class

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I've got little ones, but how do the parents handle the over-the-top marketing to tweens that JGO mentioned? Just give in? Fight against it? Push noncommercial entertainment instead? I'm curious, since the marketing to kids is a big concern to me (having read and been appalled by Born to Buy).

Posted by: Neighbor | March 26, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

My daughter attended a party at Club Libby Lu three years ago when she was in 1st grade. We made it clear to her that we were not thrilled with this concept, but she could attend if she was willing to not to put on make up (but that she could have her hair done -which turned out to be cute series of braids and glitter). We had no idea about the clothes, but she told me later that she was careful not to wear anything that showed her tummy (which we don't allow except for bathing suits). She had fun because all of her friends were there, but she has never asked to return (probably because she knew we didn't approve). I think totally denying something like this denies you the chance to teach and the chance to put some trust in your child (she was very proud when she reported back to us). This whole topic was not foreign since everytime we went into a clothing store we had to navigate what was appropriate and what was not allowed. I am proud to say that when we go shopping now (my daughter's about to turn 10), my daughter can easily navigate though the trashy clothes and find cute, appropriate pieces. Even though she almost always hates what I pick out, I rarely say no now to what she picks out(except for outrageous prices!). She has developed a good eye for fashion. I realize that there will be more bumps in the road ahead, but hopefully I've set a good foundation.

Posted by: SLP | March 26, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

My daughter went to her first Libby Lu party last night, so this is very timely. I don't wear makeup myself, and don't approve of my daughter wearing bikinis or bare midriff clothing. HOWEVER, this seemed like harmless dress-up fun. I'll be on the lookout for the nits though! Ick.

Posted by: KSM | March 26, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

There most certainly is something wrong with dressing your little girl up as a sex object, and that's what happens at Libby Lu. That's not "uptight," it's responsilbe parenting.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 26, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

don't go to the mall

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what percentage of the patrons at this store are white/black/latino.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"I hope you do have to explain why they can't go to a harmless party where they get to dress up. What exactly would you say though? That they can't go because Mommy is a snotty and uptight woman who likes to suck the fun out of life? I bet their Daddy's would agree with that too."

There's a distinction between normal kid-initiated dress-up play and being taught by stranger adults to wear skimpy clothes, apply makeup with a trowel, and walk and act like a model on a catwalk, showing off their non-existent "junk".
Not that I expect you understand about grey areas and middle ground, given that you equate a woman being unwilling to dress her five-year-old child like a prostitute (and parade her past every pedophile and potential pedophile in the mall) with a woman being uptight and frigid in her own, adult sex life. Most of us know that we have lively, sensual, happy and healthy sex lives in part because "sexy" wasn't forced on us too young, because we were able to deal with our sexuality as adults, on our own terms, when we were mature enough to handle it. It is not uptight or prudish to want the same for our daughters.
Will you consider it harmless when your daughter scolds you for being "snotty, uptight and sucking the fun out of life" because you don't want her to show off the moves she learned at 6 or 7 on the new boyfriend she has at 12 or 13? Or will you give in and let her do whatever she wants, lest you be seen to *gasp* set limits on her fun?

Posted by: Katja | March 26, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"For those of you who say things like -- I hope they do get invited so I can explain to them why they can't go -- I hope you do have to explain why they can't go to a harmless party where they get to dress up. What exactly would you say though? That they can't go because Mommy is a snotty and uptight woman who likes to suck the fun out of life? I bet their Daddy's would agree with that too."

Your post explains why my sons will be stuffing dollar bills into you're daughters underwear in 15 years.

Posted by: to JGO | March 26, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I've got little ones, but how do the parents handle the over-the-top marketing to tweens that JGO mentioned? Just give in? Fight against it? Push noncommercial entertainment instead? I'm curious, since the marketing to kids is a big concern to me (having read and been appalled by Born to Buy).

Like SLP said at 9:19 a.m., you just hope you can lay a good foundation. And I try not to be TOO overbearing.

Maybe fortunately for both my children (my son is 3) but primarily just my daughter at this point, we talk about marketing ad nauseum because that is the field I am in and my daughter is very interested in the "how was your day/what did you do today" - type banter.

I think you have to do it all if it's important to you -- fight against it, give in and look for alternatives. The thing is for me, do what's right for my family and not worry about what the neighbors think.

Posted by: JGO | March 26, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I bought overpriced girl scout cookies so the girls could pay for a trip to Libby Lu? Barf.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Nice girls don't wear cha-cha heels.

Posted by: Divine | March 26, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Alternatives:

Dress them in big hats, feather boas, long gloves and serve them tea

Decorate capes cut out of felt with glitter glue and feathers and have a parade in your backyard

Hire teenage girls from the neighborhood to give the girls crazy ponytails

Build a Maypole

Decorate cookies in you kitchen

Duck, duck, goose

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 26, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I am so GLAD my girls don't even know about this place. Being a single Father I have to deal with what I deem "inappropriate" clothes as it is. Too short skirts, shorts Daisy Duke would blush at, etc. Often I have to confiscate clothes or they will continue to sneak it by me on a rough morning. Do not think I buy these clothes for them...these are clothes they have outgrown and I have been convinced (by them) they are for dolls or for play. Now I have a better reason to go through the full closet and overstuffed dresser.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 26, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

These are great ideas, Arlington Dad!

Our best cool birthday party so far has been a dance party -- the birthday girl picked out the music, and we got a pack of 200 glow sticks (around $20) that the kids could wear. Turn down the lights, and it's amazing.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 26, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I also let my daughter go to a "Libby Lu" party for selling a record number of girl scout cookies. The girls loved having their hair done and parading around in leather and boas. Some of the girls had an "image" problem because the clothes were too small. They were in fourth grade, and were a bit too old for it. It was all a fantasy for them and, when it was over, they left the mall with wild hairdos in their T-shirts and jeans. They did receive stares and loved it...as if they were on display. Is this bad for them? It is hard to say....my daughter is now interested in all of the new styles but, not glitter, leather or boas. She wears occasional lip gloss but, no other make up. She has made it to sixth grade still in flats and just wanting to look good. I think the real problem is with the parent who frequents this kind of place ("Libby Lu") and all of the hip clothing stores in the mall for young girls on a regular basis. After all, the parents make the final decisions, not the girls! Some mothers continually update their daughter's wardrobes on demand and overindulge them. When the young girl expects these clothes, haircuts, make up, trips to the mall with gift cards, on a regular basis, then, I believe you have a girl growing up in too much of a "material world."

Posted by: plainjane | March 26, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think a lot of the "let girls dress up and have some fun" comments here are extremely naive and dangerous. If they are doing it in the privacy of their home, that's one thing. If they are doing it in a public place, then they are attracting every pedophile in a 10-mile radius. It's a very real danger, and the fact that it apparently has not occurred to some of you utterly amazes me.

Posted by: StudentMom | March 26, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The company is successful because most girls like to do this. It's not as if these are reluctant girls who are being dragged in and forced to play dress-up in garish clothing and make-up... it's practically instinctive for pre-teen girls. Here's a test: show your daughter a picture of a girl her age dressed up as a doctor, one of a girl dressed as a cowgirl, and one dressed as a provocatively-attired rock star. Want to bet which outfit she'd chose? Pre-teen boys love to pretend they're soldiers fighting in a war... much to the consternation of liberal parents. It's just the way kids are. Live with it.

Posted by: Bill | March 26, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

What scares me most about Libby Lu is that it doesn't shock me like it used to. I don't think they've become more appropriate, I'm getting used to seeing girls dressed like trashy teens. Ick.

What I do to limit the impact of marketing on my kids is pretty simple. I don't buy toys/books/clothes that are tied into tv shows if I can find an alternative. It seems like a lot of the parents who talk about being concerned about the affects of marketing on kids are also buying Dora/Disney Princess/Thomas brand everything.

We have a fair amount of branded stuff in the house that my kids have received as gifts, but the everyday message my kids get from their parents is that we look at the quality of the things we're going to buy, not the face on the package.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | March 26, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"I've got little ones, but how do the parents handle the over-the-top marketing to tweens that JGO mentioned? Just give in? Fight against it? Push noncommercial entertainment instead? I'm curious, since the marketing to kids is a big concern to me (having read and been appalled by Born to Buy)."

I think that if companies are going to market to children you have to teach your children to be critical of what is being offered at Libby Liu, or on television. Why not teach them to deconstruct the message? Tell them about marketing tie-ins, make it clear that Disney execs don't want you to be happy, they want you to consume consume consume. I don't think this needs to preclude activities like going to a dress-up party or whatever, but it teaches children to be smart about them.

I'm pretty sure I didn't put it eloquently, but there is a wonderful (and very eloquent)interview in the current issue of a certain feminist magazine that rhymes with "witch" on this very topic -- interview is with two women who recently wrote a book on the way sexualized toys are aggressively marketed at girls, and what parents can do to help protect their girls by instilling them with the skill to be critical.

Posted by: Rita | March 26, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"It's not as if these are reluctant girls who are being dragged in and forced to play dress-up in garish clothing and make-up... it's practically instinctive for pre-teen girls."

So you let your kids do everything they want to do? Your philosophy is "Live with it"? I think I'll parent my children instead of just letting them do whatever they want.

Posted by: yet another lawyer | March 26, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My first grader loves to play dress up and has her fair share of sparkly boas and fake make-up. However, the most she is allowed to wear outside the house is her Glynda (Wizard of Oz) tiara. We've walked through Club Libby Lou in the past but she wasn't very impressed; she prefer's Claire's (called, at our house, the pink store). For us, the key is no commercial tv. Therefore the mass marketing she sees at the mall doesn't mean much to her. I'm sure it will begin to seep in as she gets older but for now we are just enjoying childhood.

Posted by: 21117 | March 26, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Great book about marketing targeted at kids: Consuming Kids by Susan Linn

Posted by: vj | March 26, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Wow, JGO: "Your post explains why my sons will be stuffing dollar bills into you're daughters underwear in 15 years."

Setting aside the double standard - it's okay that you already assume your sons will be frequenting strip clubs in 15 years, ogling the trashy girls there who you clearly hold in very low esteem - that comment was a little uncalled for. I don't really like the idea of this place, but letting your kid go there won't doom them to a life of stripping! That's pretty judgemental.

And I really don't get all these pedophile fears. Do you really believe there are men hanging around malls, ready to grab the first preteen in pretty clothes he sees? Most victims are abused by people they know, not strangers. I don't think Libby Lu can be blamed for making girls into sexual abuse victims.

Posted by: Laine | March 26, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"So you let your kids do everything they want to do?"

No; but I have a recognition of what they consider "fun", and try to accommodate it when they have birthday parties (or go to others' parties).

When our son wanted his birthday at a laser-tag place, we could have agonized over the fact that it glorifies the "thrill" of killing. But we let him do it, because that's what boys love... and because it's just fantasy-play.

When you think about it, boys pretending to be killers is MUCH scarier than girls pretending to be sexy!

Posted by: Bill | March 26, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"Do you really believe there are men hanging around malls, ready to grab the first preteen in pretty clothes he sees?"

Do read the news?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 26, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I paid for my grand-niece and two friends (age 11) to have a birthday party at Club Libby Lu and her Mom and I took her once by herself. She loved it, and her Mom didn't let them overdo it. A boa is just feathers. My sister and I are ex-military officers, but we loved dressing up as girls. My grand-niece loves it too, and she liked wearing my old garrison cap and epaulettes for fun as well. The key is for Mom or Grandma to be present at the sessions and to advise and consent. Women who dress more like Dolly Parton will have a different view of what's appropriate than I do. In my experience, both boys and girls are far more likely to model their behavior on their parents than the folks at the mall.

As to raising boys, my son is now 32, and I was shocked when 13-year-old girls in layers of makeup, false eyelashes and padded bras knocked at the door looking for my grubby child in his noisome gym shoes. But this was long before Club Libby Lu existed. In any case, he seemed to be fascinated with girls ranging from freshly scrubbed to advanced stages of cosmetic endeavor. But my husband and I talked and we talked and we talked to him about our beliefs about love, dating, sex and marriage. The danger isn't in taking girls to Libby Lu, it's what you say and do before, during and after you take them there. That's the basis of how your daughter (and your son) will make their choices in life. Head lice? Call the Board of Health!

Posted by: Great-Auntie | March 26, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

there's no reason to drag Dolly Parton, in all of her glory and wonderfulness and beauty into this!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 26, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your fun party ideas Arlington Dad!

A good read for anyone raising a girl: "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls" by Mary Pipher

Posted by: myby | March 26, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Playing dress-up and with mom's make-up is supposed to happen at home. That way the laughter (discreet) and the candid photos are done at home.

Libby Lu is just another stop on the dash to the bottom of the stairs.

Whatever happened to just having your friends come over and play in the backyard? Hasn't anyone heard of going to the public pool? Or water guns?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I watch the news. And I know that they grab onto any and all "Pretty girl was kidnapped" story they can. They hype it up, put it on Nancy Grace, and make parents think it happens all the time. No, it doesn't. But they make you think it does because it's on TV all the time. If you feel the need to worry about it, worry about your neighbors, your friends or family. Those are the usual culprits.

Posted by: Laine | March 26, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

My girls are 5 and 8, and as far as I know, they haven't heard of the place. They have seldom been to any mall, and have never been to one with a a Libby Lu. The older one has been to several Chucky Cheese parties, and will continue to go, although she has told me that she doesn't like the place.

I thought it was bad when a guest at that 8 yo's birthday party (at our house, doing crafts and decorating cookies) got bored and began making prank calls on her cell phone. I see birthday parties as a way for kids to be together with friends. I don't like Chucky Cheese because it is set up so that the partygoers split up into 2s and 3s for the games. Club LL sounds like maybe they would be more together, and like others, I think I would let my daughter go if invited. But I would probably plan to stay for the party, and would talk with my daughter afterward about the clothing. By now, both girls are well aware of what is appropriate for all of us, as they know my views on many subjects.

Funny, this weekend, the 5 yo said that she couldn't wait to be grownup and go to college so that she could be the boss of herself (this was apropos of nothing). I laughed and explained that a) I can't wait either, and b) the idea is that by the time she goes to college, she will be *capable* of being the boss of herself. And that is what we are talking about here. We all have ideas about what we'd be proud of our children doing when they are "the boss of" themselves. The things we do and say now are hopefully preparing them to make the "right" choices when the time comes.

Posted by: mom of 2 | March 26, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Your post explains why my sons will be stuffing dollar bills into you're daughters underwear in 15 years.

Posted by: to JGO | March 26, 2007 09:40 AM

Sounds like you are raising a couple of nice, respectful boys - maybe you should send them to Duke to play lacrosse? Could you post their full names so my daughter will know to run if she meets them?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

To be honest, I find club libby lus pretty disgusting. I have no problems with the Princess dress ups at home. But why over sexed Hannah Montana for preschoolers and elementary school kids. I guess if this was really a tween fad, it would be less revulting but the problem is the kids are getting younger and younger. Just the head lice issue is enough to make me stay away.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 26, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Laine,

I agree that kids are most likely to be abused by someone their parents know and trust. However, I also think that men who like to look at women dressed a certain way learn where to go to see that. It seems obvious that men who like to look at girls dressed in sexy clothes are likely to hang out around Libby Lu. Even if they don't touch my kid, I don't want them taking pictures of them. Thanks to cellphones, its not always obvious who is taking a picture.

Its making me sick just thinking about it.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | March 26, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"Do you really believe there are men hanging around malls, ready to grab the first preteen in pretty clothes he sees?"

I was twelve and at the *newly opened* (so that dates me!) Springfield Mall, wearing my favorite gold hip-hugger bell bottoms and halter top that I'd made in Home Ec. I was alone, waiting to meet my friends, when I was approached by a man in his twenties who told me I was the *PERFECT* model for his new photo shoot. He creeped me out sufficiently to walk away towards the Orange Bowl where I knew the manager - I figured it was better for me to be around someone I knew while I waited.

Thank goodness my mom raised me to trust my instincts. And better yet, raise me so that I didn't need validation based on my looks.

I could have written this original post. Being the mom of two young boys, I'm totally out of the Libby Lu loop. However, we were just up at the mall, spending some well-earned allowance money at the Legos store, and what I saw at Libby Lu took my breath away. What's bothersome to me, echoing other posts, is how young we seem to be *sexualizing* our kids. It's one thing to play dress-up - I'm all for that. It's another when a three-year-old girl walks into your house, in tears, because she thinks her winter coat makes her "butt look fat." (This actually was happened with a neighbor's child.)

They have so much time to stress over the right eye color, nail color, tooth color, hair color - why strip away their childhoods so young? What's the point of little girls - 5, 6, 8, 10 year olds - wearing heels? It can't be good for their foot and leg development, and it's not good for their self-image.

I don't get it. It's harmful for all - parents, kids, boys and girls. I'm thinking it sends the wrong message, and dilutes a girl's ability to trust her instincts, right when she might need them most.

Posted by: sesh | March 26, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

From what I can tell it's not appealing to the tween girls (ages 8-14), it's more for the younger ones still in the fairy princess stage! My dd (11 years old today), looked at the place once and now walks by with disgust. Everything is 3 times the regular price and while my dd loves Hannah Montana, not enough to go there.

I am sooo glad she is too old for it. Now she did go to a couple dress-up model parties when she was in pre-school, but they were "evening gowns'.... ;-)

Posted by: librarianmom | March 26, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"What exactly would you say though? That they can't go because Mommy is a snotty and uptight woman who likes to suck the fun out of life? I bet their Daddy's would agree with that too."

So what? They're entitled to their opinions. If that is the worst thing they say about me, well, bring it on!

Any fathers here think that Libby Lu sends a healthy message to their little girls? Or who WANT to see their little girls dressed up like pole-dancers?

Posted by: Bedrock | March 26, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

your daughter likes to dress up? have a dress up party in your home and just say not to public displays of consumerism.

Grow a spine, folks. If you can't say no to Libby Liu, you are highly likely to, in ten more years, be the parent who says, "I'd rather have them drinking in our basement and not driving, so I'll get the keg and take away their keys", otherwise known as the parent who refuses to set any limits.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

On growing a spine, and "What exactly would you say though? That they can't go because Mommy is a snotty and uptight woman who likes to suck the fun out of life? I bet their Daddy's would agree with that too."

When my kids say "I'm SO mad at you Mom!! You are SO NOT FAIR!!" they know now that my standard reply is, "well, this isn't the first time you're gonna be mad at me, so get used to it!" or "good, that means I'm doing my job."

Posted by: sesh | March 26, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

librarianmom, you are absolutely right. my dd is now 8 years old, and has zero interest in Club Libby Lu. The fact that she went there twice when younger has not prompted her to be interested in provocative fashions, either. She dresses very sensibly, and she plays three sports. I know lots of girls who have been to Libby Lu once or twice. I have never met a girl who *frequents* Libby Lu. If people are decrying it as one more symptom of a society that pushes children to grow up too fast, okay, I guess I can see that. But I continue to feel that the fervor I'm reading here, toward a place that most girls will go to once in their lives, if ever, is seriously out of proportion. And I take particular exception to the 11:53 a.m. poster who seems to equate allowing a Libby Lu visit with allowing underage drinking.

Posted by: NoVa Mom | March 26, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Playing dress up is fun and appropriate for little girls. Club Libby Lu isn't about playing dressup, though--as others have said, it's inappropriately oversexualized--the makeup, the hair, the tight clothing. Yuck. I have an eight year old daughter and am *very* grateful that she has no interest in this kind of thing.

But those of you thanking your lucky stars that you only have boys should be doing some serious thinking as well. For starters, what is the popularity of Club Libby Lu saying to the boys about girls/women? Make sure they aren't getting the wrong message (because I hope you DON'T want them to be the ones shoving dollar bills into underwear in 15 years). And then take a look at what is marketed to boys. They get the other side of the coin--violence. I was walking my son in his stroller on Saturday and a few pre-teen boys passed me and I though "man, I hope the "I Wanna Be A Thug When I Grow Up" stage is over soon!" Little boys grow out of those cute puppy dog overalls and immediately into camouflage and violent superheros. Seven year old boys have military style haircuts and swagger around like they are ready to hit something. I think this is every bit as inappropriate as the Libby Lu-esque sexualization of little girls. I have no idea where these kids have their birthday parties (paintball?) but I cringe when I pass the aisles at the toy stores where the "boy" toys are kept--these ugly, violent, testosterone-bloated action figures and monster trucks. Yuck.

Posted by: Sarah | March 26, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I've seen them, there is one at our local mall. My daughter is old enough and I secretly hope it will be out of business by the time she is. That being said, Abercrombie worries me more than Libby. For little girls, Libby is still make-believe. For teenagers, I think Abercrombie encourages a way of thinking that I as a parent do not espouse. And just what do you mean by "sexy poses with boas?" Turning their shoulders and blowing kisses is one thing, mimicing Madonna ala "Like a Virgin" is something else.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 26, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I meant to say my 11 month old daughter is NOT old enough for Libby.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 26, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

As a person who has treated sex offenders and pedophiles, parents do need to be concerned about men "lurking" around places where kids congregate (e.g., playgrounds, school bus stops, toy stores, malls, and yes, Libby Lu). Although a child is more likely to be abused by someone they know as other posts have noted, it is still necessary to be wary of strangers. Even if a girl isn't snatched at one of these places, pedophiles have been known to take pictures (as other posts have noted), to expose themselves, to stalk targets, and to fantasize about kids they have seen when in private. I'd hate to see or hear anyone's child unwittingly exposed to any of this.

Posted by: AMC | March 26, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

AMC - sorry to get off topic, but you mentioned 'treating' the sex offenders and pedophiles.
By 'treating' them, does the problem ever REALLY go away?
Just wondering. Thanks!

Posted by: Question to AMC | March 26, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I took an 8 & 9 year old to Libby Lu's on Saturday, at their request. The music was blaring, the aisles small, the merchandise cheesy and expensive. A party of about 5 girls ran around in sparkly crop tops and make up. The place was overstimulating in the worst way. Afterwards, we went to park to relax an actually have fun. The girls were very receptive to my comments, as children are! This store is for parents to unimaginative to let kids play.

Posted by: Margie | March 26, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

This could have been an interesting discussion of the differences between little-girls-as-sex-objects and how to teach one's daughters that feeling beautiful and expressing oneself is an an important part of self-image, especially for girls.

Instead, we got the predictable cluck-clucking at "trashy" women and "pedophile bait" scare comments.

Every time I read one of these "conversations," I am glad I was lucky enough to marry the intelligent, grounded woman that I did.

Posted by: Brian | March 26, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

We were at a Libby Lu's once and it just happened to be my DD's birthday. I tried so hard to get her to do a dress-up. She's definitely not princess material but she does like to watch shows like Hannah Montanta. I would have loved to have done something like that at her age. My mother would have been one of those who didn't approve -- she was a bore.

Bummer. My little soccer player would have nothing to do with it.

Posted by: soccermom | March 26, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Can a sex offender or pedophile be successfully treated? Yes. Is it difficult? Absolutely. There are a lot of factors that affect treatment outcome in sex offenders. Those who tend to be predatory are much more difficult to successfully treat. Others who are caught the first time they sexually assault someone have a better shot at rehabilitating. There are two things I feel that parents should consider. One, not all sex offenders are adults or males. Two, parents of boys aren't off the hook either. Girls dress in provocative ways for two reasons - because other girls do and because they get attention from boys.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As a kid, I went to birthday parties at ice rinks and bowling alleys, and it never turned me into a skater or a bowler. These were special occasions separate from ordinary life, not something to aspire to do more often. I wonder if Libby Lu could be approached in the same way, presenting to the little girls as a special princess make-believe day, rather than as an introduction to big-girl cosmetics and clothes. I suppose that depends a lot on how the Libby Lu employees interact with the kids.

Posted by: Tom T. | March 26, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting topic related to Libby Lu parties. How much better is a party where the child does something rather than has things done to them?

Posted by: Margie | March 26, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Brian

"Every time I read one of these "conversations," I am glad I was lucky enough to marry the intelligent, grounded woman that I did."

What is your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with taking girls out ice skating or to the batting cage or having them come over and make throw water balloons?

Re: pedophiles

http://energycommerce.house.gov/reparchives/108/Hearings/09262006hearing2039/Salter.pdf

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't have children (I'm 22), but I read this column from time to time out of idle curiosity. Today, I didn't know what Club Libby Lu was, so I gave it a go. In the comments on this particular post, and many of the comments on other somewhat controversial posts, I have learned one thing: before I have kids, I really want to make sure that I am able to recognize my own feelings about the way the world works, and judge whether or not my feelings make for good, logical parenting or just paranoia. I hope to be able to talk about things like Club Libby Lu with my daughter and why I would or wouldn't want her to go there. I feel like my parents made a lot of life experience kind of decisions for me that I would've been more than capable of making on my own had we talked it over. I know kids aren't always open or responsive to that kind of thing, and certainly there are matters of right and wrong that can fall entirely under the catagory of necessary and proper parenting. But still, parents who are so worried about their daughters becoming strippers and parents who are totally fine it--why not tell your daughters why you're deciding the way you are? You can talk about all sorts of things with Libby Lu as a platform: body image, standards of beauty, celebrities, healthy sensuality, the virtues of sex work, cha cha shoes, whatever. That's what I hope to be able to do if I ever have kids.

Posted by: Meg | March 26, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

My daughter has been to 2 birthday parties at Libby Lu. She had a great time pretending to be a rock star. Has she wanted to buy any clothes like she wore at Libby Lu, NO. Has she wanted to wear makeup since going, YES, I allow her to wear it at home when playing dress up. It comes off as soon as her regular clothes go back on. She knows the difference between real life and make believe. Does she want to be a rockstar, YES, she loves singing and dancing and practices after her homework is done. Wanting to be a rockstar comes from American Idol and not from dressing up at Libby Lu.

I would never let her go to Libby Lu without me being there with her to monitor what was happening. The kids DO NOT parade around the mall in the rock star outfits, they get changed back into their own clothes before leaving the store.

I do have to agree with the statement that pedophiles frequent these areas. There was a man that was in the store without a child and who wasn't in there to buy any of the overpriced merchandise. The manager called security who immediately escorted him out of the store.

Head Lice, ICK. They didn't use a comb on my daughter's hair either time, they twisted it and pinned it up with bobby pins, which all stayed in her hair and didn't get reused, except during dress up at home.

Posted by: K.W. | March 26, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

My daughter was invited to such a party at 8 and informed us herself that she didn't want to go (saving us the trouble of forbidding it). Likewise, she's seen the cheerleaders at the basketball tournament on tv over the weekend and wondered allowed "why are they dancing in just bras and little skirts? It's so embarassing. I like the girls who play the game."

The girl from down the street who invited her to the libby lu party is the same one who shows up at our door in pants with glittery words across the bottom, and has knocked on our door to ask our daughter to play in the park, unsupervised, after dark. At age 8.

I think that we've worked hard to teach her to respect herself and give her healthy body image, exposed her to age-appropriate sex ed classes through our church, given her the opportunity to play sports and thus learn to think of her body in terms of what it can accomplish and not what it can attract, etc. And I've watched the girl down the street, denied those things, dress in ways that cause adults to recoil at the sight of such a young girl dressed so inappropriately. The contrast is impressive.

You send a message to your girls from birth in your attitudes toward this sort of thing, and if you're lucky, they internalize it.

So yes, Club Libby Lu is offensive and sends a bad message about the sexualization of young girls. It's not that there are child predators lurking at the door so much as it is that Club Libby Ly is about girls internalizing the wrong ideals. But in the end, it's just as symptom, not a cause. It's what you've taught your girls that govern their reaction to the place.

Posted by: sct | March 26, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

You know, there is something to be said for being too cheap to pay for cable. I had no idea who this Hannah Montana person/show was, and I have only read about Libby Lu. (Yuck to both. I'm glad my daughter is too old for Libby Lu, and thus far has no interest in such extreme fashions.)

Geez, what about those paint your own pottery places? Wouldn't they be a more appropriate? At least the creativity wouldn't involve tube tops and short-shorts.

Laser tag is fun. So is going to the park with frisbees (and a dog, if permitted and well-trained).

Why not take them to hear some live music? Or to a high school play? Or going swimming or something.

I don't get it, I really don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

My point, O Anonymous One?

It's like a joke. If you constantly find yourself having to have them explained to you, the deficiency is probably in your sense of humor, not in the teller's delivery.

But I will explain anyway. I'm nice that way.

The points are two. One, fortunately (for me, especially) not all women are so insecure about their own self-image that they have to resort to cheap name-calling of other women whose sexuality they find threatening.

Two, it is possible (nay, desirable) for parents to make childrearing decisions based on reasoned, rational determinations of how they want their children to develop into healthy and stable adults rather than based on irrational local-news scaremongering.

Posted by: Brian | March 26, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I have 3 boys, hence I haven't personally had to deal with these issues. When I read about this club and what the dress-up entails I can't help but think of the fasicinating book "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture" by Ariel Levy. This book focuses on older teens and young adults, but it's interesting to ponder whether there's a correlation between the sexualization of very young girls, and the acceptance amoung teens and young women of that whole "Girls Gone Wild" scene. I see the latter as kind of a manifestation of low self-esteem if not self-hate in some cases, and I wonder if all this emphasis on glam, sexiness, and "beauty" (as modern-day pop culture defines it) from such a young age can predisposition vulnerable girls to later sexual exploitation in the guise of "modern feminism" or "sexual liberation" (terms used by young women in Levy's book to describe why allowing men to exploit and degrade them actually was a positive thing for them). Whoo - long run-on sentence there. Anyone else read the book?

Posted by: SeattleMa | March 26, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I recall several years ago on 'Saturday Night Live' they aired a film segment on infants wearing make-up. Instead of being funny, this flopped and you could hear the uncomfortable groans from the audience. Club Libby Liu is sick. So are beauty contests for pre-teens. Every time I see a child in make-up I think of JonBenet Ramsey. It is absolutely disgusting to make a child look like a hooker. And yes, dirty older men do hang out at Malls to grab teenaged (and under) girls.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

What kind of saps buy into all this?

On Disney Princesses:
"Sales at Disney Consumer Products, which started the craze six years ago by packaging nine of its female characters under one royal rubric, have shot up to $3 billion, globally, this year, from $300 million in 2001. There are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items. ''Princess,'' as some Disney execs call it, is not only the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created; they say it is on its way to becoming the largest girls' franchise on the planet."
--NY Times Dec. 24, 2006

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

My daughter is 12, and we've never been to, or been invited to, a Club Libby Lu. We were, however, invited when she was 9 to a terrific birthday party at a friend's home in which the activity de jour was dressing up in adult party clothes (flouncy dresses, skirts, etc.) (not sexy), doing crazy things with their hair, and getting made up and nails done. The mom is a designer for a fashion house in New York and had a lot of interesting, funky clothes around for the girls to try on. She taught the girls how to do a runway walk down the hall of the house and had dad take each of their pictures against a wall made up to look like a fashion magazine cover. The resulting pictures were a hoot; each girl looked like she was on the cover of Vogue or Bazaar. My daughter is absolutely not a clothes horse and has no desire to dress provocatively. But that party, in the safety of a friend's home, was a lot of fun. The picture is precious. And no lice!

Posted by: preteenmom | March 26, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

EWWW- the lice thing has me creeped out. That is good information to pass along.

My daughter's Brownie Troop went, they had a vote and she was on an opposing side, so she went but was not happy about it. She went to a b-day party once there too. I think it is a silly store and so does my daughter so we are in agreement.

I won't comment on the whole princess/dress-up thing except to say that even though little girls have been doing it forever - it gets completely obnoxious. Just my opinion.

Posted by: cmac | March 26, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Why are we attacking Libby Lus? They are just marketing on a hobby that little girls have been engaged in probably as long as clothing has been worn. The little girls aren't the ones bringing in the salary- it's the adults giving the money which lets them thrive.

So obviously plenty of adults and parents think it's a fine and fun thing to employ.

IMO it's just marketing on an idea that's already been going on- dressing up in "adult stuff" isn't bad or wrong. Even playing make up isn't bad or wrong.

So, bring all the kids over to YOUR house for the night, do their make up, let them rummage through the "play clothes box" and wear as little or as much garish awful 80s looking scarves and belts and earrings as they want. Do a runway show with disposable cameras and have a blast.

As long as you make a clear distinction between "fun and cute" and "real life" I really don't see the issue.

I'm sure mothers freaked out when their girls started wearing jeans and thought it was just a horrible downslope into badness. I don't think playtime is what we really have to worry about here.

Posted by: Liz D | March 26, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I have to add one more thing, in response to Brian at 02:12pm:
Your argument that any woman who doesn't go for the whole Libby Lu thing is "insecure about their self-image" and finds other women's sexuality "threatening" is exactly the rationale that the "Girls Gone Wild" cameramen and recruiters use to persuade relucant young women why they should strip, mastur**te (I don't know if using that word will get my post censored), or make out with their best friend on camera for the enjoyment of a bunch of chauvinistic louts. After all, if she won't then she's just a prude who's out of touch with her own sexuality.
You would either find Levy's book very enlightening, or you would decide that she must be frigid.

Posted by: SeattleMa | March 26, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Whoa...Some real uptight, hyper mommies here!

No more Lattes for you!!

Lighten up! It's a totality innocent child's dress up party. Several years ago my daughter went to CLL, she dressed in no revealing clothing, had her hair put up, and had lost of fun.

Posted by: UnCaffinated | March 26, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Whether you are a parent of girls or boys, there is a lot to worry about sparing your kid from.

I think each kid is different and they way they "turn out" mostly has to do with what they see their parents / friends / community doing and how that resonates with who they are. Except for trauma, parental behavior is the single most compelling input to a child's life.

Girls can become sex objects or powerless victims, boys can become cannon fodder or predators. Anyone can be a ne'er do well or a loser.

That said, its glorious watching my girls sort through life and an honor to be a resource to them. I step in when I know for sure something will hurt them and try to let them decide otherwise (sometimes while I spin the issue for all I am worth).

If something just scares the hell out of me, but I don't have a better (non-me) reason, I tell them it scares the hell out of me, and why. So far they have always taken a huge dose of my input and made some great decisions and interesting observations.

Last bit: Meg, you'll be a great parent! Have at it.

Posted by: Dad O Girls | March 26, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, "uptight" too. Interesting etymology, there. ;)

Posted by: SeattleMa | March 26, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I think the comment that the Libby Lu store is "pedophile bait" is offensive to say the least. To a pedophile any place that children congregate will be attractive. By implying that by allowing your child to go to a place Libby Lu you are essentially placing them on a platter for pedophiles, you are implying that it is somehow a parent's fault when a stranger abuses their child. Studies have shown that in most cases of sexual abuse of children, the perpetrator is not a stranger and one study from the Department of Justice puts this number at less than 4%. The sad fact is that parents need to be aware of dangers at all times and in every situation and it is both naïve and dangerous to assume that only in places like Libby Lu is your child in particular danger from sexual predators.

Furthermore, just as it's wrong to disregard the danger of pedophiles, it's not fair to your children to allow these fears to dictate how they can express themselves or to stymie their imaginations. These little girls may look like prostitutes to you, but that's not how they see themselves. Don't ruin their fun by telling them it's wrong. Children don't really understand concepts like prostitution and they shouldn't have to. Allow them to be kids and express themselves and enjoy Libby Lu for what it is: a special place where they can dress-up and pretend. I played plenty of dress-up as a little girl and I didn't grow up to be a prostitute or a stripper.

Posted by: sd | March 26, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I am taking my 10 year old twin girls to a shooting range in NJ to take NRA courses on gun handling. Personally I think this type of activity counters the tween marketing hype and Club Libby Lu. Also, on the drive home we talk about strateiges for shooting and target id at laser tag and when they are older paint ball events. I put my foot down when both girls asked that instead of donating their Barbies and Bratz dolls to charity can they use them for target practice... I said no.

I wonder if I am countering all the good I am doing by allowing them to wear lip gloss on the range

Posted by: Tribeca/NYC | March 26, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I am taking my 10 year old twin girls to a shooting range in NJ to take NRA courses on gun handling. Personally I think this type of activity counters the tween marketing hype and Club Libby Lu. Also, on the drive home we talk about strateiges for shooting and target id at laser tag and when they are older paint ball events. I put my foot down when both girls asked that instead of donating their Barbies and Bratz dolls to charity can they use them for target practice... I said no.

I wonder if I am countering all the good I am doing by allowing them to wear lip gloss on the range

Posted by: Tribeca/NYC | March 26, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world would anyone pay money to get girls together to play dress-up?

Can't you do that at your own home, for FREE? Ask folks to contribute some of their old dress-up attire, or some of their kid's dress-up clothes.

Get together, yak, let them have at the lip gloss and blush. Have munchies. The kids can take photos of one another if they want.

Doesn't anyone have any faith in themselves to provide a party for their kid and their friends?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you much, Dad O Girls! Sounds like my theory is working out for you in practice. Good to know! I'm sure your girls are awesome and will thank you for all this later on in life (if they don't already).

Posted by: Meg | March 26, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

My Brownie Girl Scout troop (ages 6 - 9)spent their hard earned cookie money on a service project (flowers for the school garden) and a camping trip. Although Club Libby Lu was mentioned, several of the girls who had been there for a party said it was "boring" and "not worth it." Once I found out what it was, I was glad it was voted against!

Posted by: GS Mom | March 26, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Club Libby Lu is a terrible idea.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 26, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I actually took my 3 year old niece there for her birthday last month. In addition to the rock star option, they also have princess options. We found a ballerina outfit that was completely age appropriate and the staff put light blush, lip stick and nail polish on her. We had a great time and she loved playing Beauty Parlor.

Posted by: Christine | March 26, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Sarah - yes, boys get the violent superheros, but some superheros, at least, are good moral, responsible role models. Spiderman, for example.
I so hear you about the "thug" thing - not for my boy, not while he's living under my roof.

And Brian - I'm not threatened by other women's sexuality. I'm creeped out by people who think _pre-pubescent girls_ - LITTLE KIDS - need to be "sexual". A mature woman who wants to be a stripper and enjoys it - good for her! A five-year-old girl dressed as and dancing like a stripper - ick, scary.

And no, calling Libby Lu "pedophile bait" doesn't mean that it's your fault if your kid gets molested. But it does mean that dressing up a child as a sex object makes her more likely to be treated as one, and that's a risk a parent really ought to take into account. Let's be real, here.

Posted by: Katja | March 26, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

In the Tyson's corner mall, did anyone else notice the Victoria's Secret upstairs? It has models bent over in all kinds of poses. I expect to see that walking by a lingerie store. I did not however expect to see it walking by a store for little girls. Instead of scratching each other's eyes out, why don't we petition to have the place closed down or moderated? Why not write and call the banks that own the mall and the mall management and complain to them? If enough people ban together we can make sure that places like this do not go on teaching our young girls how to dress, walk, and act inappropriately. As for whoever said pedophiles usually target someone they know, I was raped at a very young age by some man who I had never seen before. Guess what? He profiled me at a mall. I will suffer years of torment over what this deprived jerk did to me. I think that any place whatsoever that changes beautiful young girls into sex objects needs to be shut down.

Posted by: Michelle | March 26, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, whose kid has never put on too much makeup, teased his or her hair, and worn too short of a skirt for Halloween or some other occasion?

A little girl of average intelligence can distinguish "special occasions" such Halloween or a birthday party from what one should wear daily.

And for the young adults on this forum, who never did Glamour Shots or something similar? Talk about too much makeup and hair teasing.

Incidentally, to the women who only have boys, please do not be alarmed if they engage in the same type of conduct. A lot of boys try on Mommy's makeup and high heels. It isn't the end of the world.

Some of the posters today are a little high strung, and I worry they may snap.

Posted by: catmommy | March 26, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Weren't y'all around in the 80's?

Mousse is a sign of Satan! Repent, or ye shall be forsaken.

errr... until you grow up get a decent job, wear flats and comfortable underclothes.

Empowered chicks are hot. heh heh

Posted by: Fo3 | March 26, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Michelle, I'm so sorry that you were raped by a stranger at a young age, and I cannot presume to know the impact that it had on you then or now. So if I offended you by stating that pedophiles typically assault someone they know, then I sincerely apologize. It is more common that girls and boys are molested by family members or neighbors than a stranger, but as your situation points out that's not always the case.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

'A little girl of average intelligence can distinguish "special occasions" such Halloween or a birthday party from what one should wear daily.'
Yes, that's true, but children absorb information and ideas from the world around them. Look at magazines, TV & schoolyards to see how contradictory and sexualized a lot of this information is. At 8 years old, she is hungry for a parents attention and guidance. At 12, she'll be more ambivalent about what you say. Parenting does not get easier; why let her think Disney's version of dress-up is special?

Posted by: Margie | March 26, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey catmommy - you asked:
Seriously, whose kid has never put on too much makeup, teased his or her hair, and worn too short of a skirt for Halloween or some other occasion?

I can honestly say neither of my kids have done any of the above (boy and girl). My son has taken his sister's lip gloss she got from a party and "painted" the wall and his dresser when he was 2 or 3, that was fun. My daughter worries about her shorts being too short even though they are appropriate. I pointed out two 9 year old girls on the bus stop to her last week (when it was warm) that had mini-skirts with their butts hanging out and she thought is was gross. There are girls out there that do not like such things! And she is still cute as a button.

Posted by: cmac | March 26, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Children like to imitate adults. If mommy is a tart, smokes and wears too much make-up, so will the kids. If daddy is a bully, then the kids will grow up to be bullies, too. I used to babysit for two little tramps who danced around to N'Sync and wore make=up around the house. Their parents would come home staggering drunk at 2:00 am. Guess where the kids are headed.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

To Michelle: I am truly very sorry that you were raped, and I wasn't saying that children are never attacked by strangers, I was merely citing studies that say that the majority of childhood sexual abuse is committed by individuals who are known by the children- family members, teachers, neighbors. I certainly wasn't saying that parents and children shouldn't be wary of strangers, only that they shouldn't limit that wariness to strangers. In this increasingly dangerous world, not allowing little girls to be little girls will not protect them from harm but parental and community vigilance and awareness can.

For the record, I think Libby Lu is ridiculous but it is a business and it survives because enough people support it to make it a profitable one. The same goes for Disney and Bratz and a great many other things that parents rail against. The place is overpriced and tacky but Libby Lu and Disney aren't raising your children so how can you expect them to shoulder the blame when your kids don't turn out exactly how you wanted them too.

Posted by: sd | March 26, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I do not think playing dress-up every now and again will send kids on the path to drunken debauchery.

However, I would NEVER send a child to a place with poor sanitary practices. If I ever have to tell my child that she can't go play dress up, the head lice a previous poster reported will play a greater part in the decision than the dress-up.

Oh, and a few of my past Halloween costumes: hula dancer (bikini with grass skirt, age 10 or so), punk rocker (tight everything, teased hair, blue eye shadow, age 8 or so), belly dancer (bare midriff, lots of makeup, age 11 or so), playboy bunny (age 20), dominatrix (age 21).

Did I turn out fine? Sure!

Posted by: catmommy | March 26, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I actually just took my 6 year old there for her birthday. I beg to differ with the author of this article, but getting a small amount of eye shadow and her nails painted is hardly "more makeup" than any adult woman has worn in her lifetime.

I do agree, some of the outfits provided are certainly questionable. However, they also have fairy princess dresses that I felt completely comfortable letting her wear. Also, she was given her own (new) makeup & wig, so it didn't seem unsanitary at all. They did not do any sexy poses at all - they did the LIMBO.

They have jewelry & stuffed animals that appeal to young girls & are age appropriate.

Obviously midriff baring tops and skintight pants are inappropriate for most females regardless of age. However, it is up to the parent to make sure that their child is dressing and acting properly.

Perhaps the submitter should spend less time judging others and keeping an eye on her own boys- I hardly think an occasional trip to Club Libby Lu is an indicator of future prostitution/teenage pregnancy/deliquency.

Posted by: auntiekiki | March 26, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

"Can a sex offender or pedophile be successfully treated? Yes. Is it difficult? Absolutely."

They should just be killed and then we won't have to worry about it. They all repeat what they do. It is disgusting that anyone would want to waste money on treating them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 26, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Re sex offenders:

"They should just be killed and then we won't have to worry about it. They all repeat what they do. It is disgusting that anyone would want to waste money on treating them."

Actually, there is LESS recidivism among sex offenders than other types of criminals -- robbers, thieves, murderers, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 27, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Actually, there is LESS recidivism among sex offenders than other types of criminals -- robbers, thieves, murderers, etc.

Posted by: | March 27, 2007 08:57 AM

Sadly though, they tend not to get caught and convicted. The courts still tend to believe adults versus kids. It's really awful.

As for the recidivism rate, again, it's usually the "inept" who are caught and convicted, so maybe they simply got "better" at it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 27, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Puttin' on the Ritz is for 'tweens, too
Here we go Libby Lu: Once upon a time, spas and manicures were only for brides and rich mommies. Now their little girls and their friends are crashing the party.

http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_5522877

Posted by: DadofTwo | March 27, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm a manager at Club Libby Lu, & I don't know which one ya'll are going to but all these comments are freakin insane. The first couple of comments about head lice - we don't use use combs BECAUSE we aren't liscensed, and if the kids have headlice, we CANNOT finish doing there hair, we have to throw away the clothes they borrowed and we let the parents know. Second of all, we only have 3 shades of eyeshadow and lip gloss, and they are all light pinks and clear sparkly stuff. And third of all, all these girls look up to us. They have the time of there lives in my store. and the outfits. Oh my gosh the outfits, I used to wear those for dancing in competitions when I was younger. That's what they are. Ya'll make it seem like everything is hanging out. it's just a belly button. And we don't do whorish dances either. We have the Limbo, The Cha Cha Slide, The Hokey Pokey, Macarena, The Hannah Montana,The Chicken Dance, and the Fashion Show. But everyone has there own opinion. But here's mine, if you don't like it, don't go in there.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I really think all Club Libby Lu's should be burned to ground and little girls banned from saying the name. It will take a lot of energy and lobbing, but this is a fight that will make a huge difference in our children's lives. AS IF

Let's not pay any attention to children eating sugary foods, getting obese, diabetes that is so minor compared to Libby Lu and what it does to children. The climate the deficit hell these are minor issues as well and should not even be considered.

Get real and pound your chest for things that important to the future of our children.

Posted by: NYC/Tribeca | March 30, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

My kids have gotten lice three times in the past two years. They didn't get it from CLL. Guess where they got it? I really don't know!!

One year they got it during summer...the pool? A friend's house? Maybe vacation bible camp! The last two times, I'm guessing it was at school (two FCPS elementary schools), but can't be sure. Your kids can get lice plenty of places, but school is a real good place to get it.

If you spend time in an elementary school and observe the kids, you'll see how often their heads touch...more than you'd think! And guess what, they can get lice at home, too, or at a friend's house.

Posted by: BTDT w/ Lice | March 30, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Hello. My name is Mary Drolet, and together with two partners, I founded Club Libby Lu in 2000. I am the mother of a boy and a girl, both under age 11, and the CEO of Club Libby Lu. I read with great interest Stacy Garfinkle's "On Parenting" post on Club Libby Lu and the subsequent comments.

First, let me thank all of you for sharing your opinions. I value all of them. We regularly conduct research to learn more about moms and tween girls ages 6 to 12, so we can provide an experience at Club Libby Lu that is fun and memorable.

I can't begin to address every single point raised by everyone who responded to Stacy's opinion, but I do want to share some information with you about exactly what happens in our stores. After all, how can you really form an opinion without the facts?

Club Libby Lu is a place - first and foremost - where little girls can engage their imaginations and have fun being a girl. Yes, that involves playing dress-up, getting their hair done and the application of a little makeup. Those are the means to an end, though, with the end being how these activities make a little girl feel.

I have seen on many occasions a shy little girl with low self-esteem come in to one of our stores and leave feeling like she could do anything - all because for a moment in time, she could be whatever she wanted, whether that was a princess or a singer. Many experts agree with my notion that pretend play that flexes a little girl's imagination boosts self-confidence.

Now let me get to some basics that should interest you. The makeup we use at Club Libby Lu is carefully selected based on whether or not it's appropriate for little girls. By "appropriate," I mean that we do not have any heavy makeup in bold colors. We use a pastel palette, and honestly, it's mostly just sparkly powder. We also have some light pink eye shadow, lip gloss and nail polish. Any makeup that shows up too much - even if it's after several applications - is not carried in our stores. That way, we ensure that girls never look too "made up."

When a young woman is hired to work in one of our stores, we teach her how to perform a "Libby Du" - which is when a girl comes in to get her hair and makeup done and dress up in a special outfit. Our club counselors learn to put on just enough makeup so that girls notice it, but no more. We train our staff to never over-apply makeup. The most critical and extensive aspects of our training do not pertain to doing hair and makeup at all, but rather how to engage and talk to our V.I.P. customers to ensure every girl feels special.

I should also mention that we do not hire men for our in-store positions, because part of the experience girls enjoy at Club Libby Lu is being pampered by the kind of older girl they typically look up to - a babysitter or older-sister type of girl.

As far as the lice comments go, it's impossible for anyone to contract lice from the use of combs at Club Libby Lu, because we do not use combs. Our club counselors use their hands to create the fabulous hair-dos we offer, and all pins and hair accessories that we use on girls are brand new. The girls wear them out of the store or we throw them away; nothing that comes into contact with one girl's hair is ever reused.

If a concern about lice is ever raised, we take the utmost precautionary measures. We dispose of the dress-up clothes that may have been in contact with the patient and inform the parent of the party immediately. Every girl's safety and well-being is important to us.

Dressing up at Club Libby Lu just extends the fun and the whole experience. And while all of our clothing is popular with tween girls, we have heard some complaints about outfits that show part of a girl's tummy. We've listened to our customers and as of June 1, 2007, we are phasing out all midriff-baring dress-up clothing.

When the girls dance to pop music in our stores after they get their Libby Dus, they stay in or just outside of our stores. Our club counselors and many of the moms stay near them at all times, and our staff leads the girls in fun dances like the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance.

Have you noticed a theme here? The key word is fun. Girls have fun at Club Libby Lu. Moms and grandmothers and aunts have fun at Club Libby Lu. They also learn a lot from the experience. For example, we show through our partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital how important it is to give back and encourage girls to make contributions of their own. The Club Libby Lu experience also reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.

We make any day a special occasion. When girls are at Club Libby Lu, they do what girls have done for generations - only in a special place designed just for them.

I played dress-up and with my mom's makeup when I was little, and I grew up to run a successful business. My sister played dress-up, too, and today, she's a doctor.

If you teach your daughters that they have to look good to succeed and that outer beauty is what matters most, that's what they'll believe.

But if you teach and show them they can be anything they want to be, no matter what, and that nothing is impossible, then that's what they'll hang on to. And if you take them to Club Libby Lu, they'll have fun, they'll feel empowered and good about themselves, and they'll love you even more for it.

P.S. I'm sorry, but I simply cannot engage in a back-and-forth conversation about any counter points you may wish to make about my post. If you would like to reply by mail, please send your letters to: Club Libby Lu, 2700 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. Thank you.

Posted by: mdrolet | April 6, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering, Mary Drolet, whether based on your comment then you might consider having girls dress up as future business owners or doctors. Or does that not make your customers "feel empowered and good about themselves" in the same way as glitter?

No one has an issue with fantasy or dress-up per se, from what I can see. I think the issue is what exactly our daughters are fantasizing about becoming.

I can guarantee that if you opened a Club Dude-y Dude or whatever for boys, the kids would have more options than Prince or Rock Star. (Or the rock star, Prince, but then that opens a whole other can of worms doesn't it...)

Posted by: LG | April 12, 2007 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Our Brownie Troop went to Libby Lu with some of their Cookie Profits. It's what they voted to do and in Girl Scouts we allow the girls to have their own troop government to make decisions for themselves. We didn't have any parents who objected to our trip to Libby Lu. All of the Girls loved it! It's just dress up...these uptight parents who have nothing but negative comments about Libby Lu are the same parents whose kids will be rebelling against you when they are older. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dress up. One parent had said that her daughter could only show her tummy if it was in a bathing suit. What's the difference? It's not like these girls are going to be wearing midriff baring outfits to school or out in the neighborhood. They are only wearing them at Libby Lu during a party and then taking them off. You do not take the outfits home. They stay there. So saying that these girls are walking around the mall in the clothes is ridiculous. Maybe some of you should get the facts before you get on your soap boxes.

I'm wondering how many of you that object are home schoolers??

Posted by: tlm | April 13, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Our Brownie Troop went to Libby Lu with some of their Cookie Profits. It's what they voted to do and in Girl Scouts we allow the girls to have their own troop government to make decisions for themselves. We didn't have any parents who objected to our trip to Libby Lu. All of the Girls loved it! It's just dress up...these uptight parents who have nothing but negative comments about Libby Lu are the same parents whose kids will be rebelling against you when they are older. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dress up. One parent had said that her daughter could only show her tummy if it was in a bathing suit. What's the difference? It's not like these girls are going to be wearing midriff baring outfits to school or out in the neighborhood. They are only wearing them at Libby Lu during a party and then taking them off. You do not take the outfits home. They stay there. So saying that these girls are walking around the mall in the clothes is ridiculous. Maybe some of you should get the facts before you get on your soap boxes.

I'm wondering how many of you that object are home schoolers??

Posted by: tlm | April 13, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Your post explains why my sons will be stuffing dollar bills into you're daughters underwear in 15 years."

---

So, what kind of birthday parties are your boys going to that will eventually turn them into skeevy strip club patrons?

Also, it's *your* daughter's underwear, not *you're*. Should Club Libby Lu turn my daughter into a stripper, at least I'll make sure she's one who can spell.

Posted by: KmomMO | April 14, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

do they wash those clothes? the dressing room smelled like b.o. when my daughter went.

i don't try makeup at a department store, so I certainly would not want my daughter's eyes exposed to makeup used over and over. what about pink eye?

Posted by: libby don't | April 14, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

My daughters have been told that they will not be going to CLL. We not so lovingly call it Club Skanky Ho, bad - I know, but if the skank outfit fits.

I'm sure the employees are "trained" not to over do it on the make-up, but that "training" goes right out the window when actually applied. I've seen more four year olds coming out looking like street walkers than I care to remember.

In our mall CLL is right next door to the Lego store and down three doors from the giant play area. Amazing placing.

Hannah Montana was an great sales ploy, my older daughter freaked and wanted to head in, she was quickly set straight and went to get Legos instead, more fun to build a car and race her brother anyway.

Posted by: Collette | April 15, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

let girls be young as long as they can. why grow up so soon?

my neighbor called it "build a ho".

while liiby lu says it's a "libby du", i say it's a definite fashion/moral "don't"

we all have the right to make our choices, but as a parent, we must carefully look at the ones who shape our kids' mindsets and the people they will be.

Posted by: libby don't | April 15, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Gonzadexproshoot | April 17, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

well,yes. the clothes might be to trashy. and go ahead and complain as much as you want about the clothes,and how girls like them should not go to libby lu.but,it builds self confidence for girls. a 7 year old girl sits on the sing. her friends teased and said she can't be a princess.they say it stupid.a couple weeks later,she goes to libby lu.she puts on the tiara and throws on the 'princess' t shirt. suddenly, she realizes she can be anything she wants to be. you go ahead,walkin in heels talkin on the cell about ugly libby lu. i think it's a great place for a girl with a dream.

Posted by: zoey | April 19, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

just think. your'e a 7 year old and step into libby lu.would you say i outta here! are would you smile and dream the dream you have awlays wanted to? why?

Posted by: zoey | April 19, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

If you had girls you would understand the complicated balance between encouraging self confidence and preventing premature sexuality. My daughter takes pride in the fact that she is in the gifted & talented program. When she made it the whole school year with out even one bad mark on citizenship, her requested reward was a trip to Libby Lu. I made her tell me verbally "I'm pretty with out make up. Libby Lu is just for fun." repeatedly on the way to her special day. Please don't assume every mother and daughter you pass see in store are prepping for America's next Top Model. We had a blast, because she found a whole new way to feel confidence.

Posted by: C.L.B | August 15, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

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