A new beauty parlour for toddlers and pre-teens has renewed concerns about the sexualisation of the nation’s children.
The Trendy Monkeys salon only caters for children under the age of 13, and the owner has even admitted that she would treat a child as young as one if pressed by a parent.
Michelle Devine, a former topless and lingerie model, offers youngsters facials, manicures, pedicures, and make-up and hair treatments at her salon in Brentwood, Essex.
The controversial salon opened just days before a Government-backed report raised concerns about the sexualisation of children earlier this week.
Shy Keenan, a child protection consultant, described the toddlers’ beauty parlour as “outrageous”. She said “it is giving children a complex about the way they look from the age of one.”
“It just puts pressure on them to look anything other than they way they already are. It’s so frustrating”, she continued.
Claude Knights, director of children’s charity Kidscape, said: “Sexualisation of children is encouraged by this. It makes me so angry. It is detrimental to a child’s normal development.
“We have to work together and wake up and say children should be children. This parlour could send some down a very dangerous path.”
And Andy Scott-Evans, a local primary school teacher and father of two, said: “I have grave concerns about what we are calling the sexualisation of children and this is another step towards that.”
But Miss Devine, the salon’s 28–year-old owner, defended her venture, saying: “I don’t think letting our children be princesses for the day is sexualisation. I’m just a mum who saw something my own daughters will like. It’s a niche market.”
Earlier this week David Cameron welcomed a new report which said that parents should be supported as they attempt to combat child sexualisation.
The Letting Children be Children report called for a single website where parents can go to complain about any programme, advert or product.
In a letter to the report’s author, David Cameron said he wanted to see the parents’ website up and running before he held a meeting of retailers, broadcasters and advertisers in October.