TikTok Makeup Influencers: A Concern for Children’s Health

This illustration photograph taken on October 30, 2023, shows the logo of TikTok, a short-form video hosting service owned by ByteDance, on a smartphone in Mulhouse, eastern France. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)
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In the world of social media, trends come and go, but the latest phenomenon on TikTok has raised concerns about the well-being of young girls. Dubbed “Sephora Kids,” preteen girls between the ages of eight and 12 are gaining thousands of followers by showcasing their makeup and skincare purchases. While some may see this as harmless fun, specialists are warning about the potential dangers to children’s mental and physical health.

The trend revolves around the French high-street brand Sephora, with a particular focus on products championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West. These young influencers can be seen gushing over pots of moisturizer or pleading with their parents to buy them anti-wrinkle cream. They mimic popular grown-up makeup tutorials, posing in front of the mirror with their hair tied back.

However, skin specialists are sounding the alarm about the suitability of these products for young skin. Ingredients like retinol, found in some of the products used by these “Sephora kids,” may not be appropriate for their developing skin. US dermatologist Danilo Del Campo warns that the influence of these young “skin influencers” has led to an increase in consultations related to skin reactions and concerns resulting from the misuse of such products. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of the potential risks involved.

The allure of high-end skincare products is not lost on these young influencers either. In their videos, they review moisturizers that cost nearly 70 euros ($76), leaving some viewers astonished at the amount of money being spent by these young girls. One Sephora salesman in the United States even remarked in a TikTok video, “How can these little girls spend like, my salary, really, in skincare?”

Beyond the potential physical harm, experts are also concerned about the impact on children’s self-esteem. Del Campo has observed “self-esteem issues” among his young patients who feel the need to correct perceived flaws that may not actually exist. Moreover, employees at Sephora have expressed frustration over the behavior of young customers in stores, with videos showing makeup counters in disarray and spilled products.

The psychoanalyst Michael Stora suggests that these girls are not merely playing with dolls, as one might expect at their age, but rather, they themselves have become the dolls. Stora accuses parents of “fetishizing” their children by allowing and encouraging this trend. Solene Delecourt, a professor specializing in social inequality, shares similar concerns. She believes that these videos contribute to a stereotypical representation of girls and women online, subjecting them to intense social pressure at a young age.

Delecourt’s recent study published in the Nature journal highlights how online images can amplify gender bias, particularly against women. The “Sephora Kids” trend, while seemingly innocent, may inadvertently reinforce harmful stereotypes and expectations on young girls.

It is important for parents and society as a whole to be aware of the potential risks associated with this trend. While self-expression and experimentation are essential parts of growing up, it is crucial to strike a balance between allowing children to explore their interests and protecting their well-being. By fostering a healthy body image and promoting age-appropriate activities, we can help safeguard the mental and physical health of our children in the digital age.

In conclusion, the rise of “Sephora Kids” on TikTok has sparked concerns about the impact on children’s health. The influence of these young influencers, coupled with the use of potentially unsuitable skincare products, has raised red flags among skin specialists. Moreover, the trend may contribute to self-esteem issues and reinforce harmful stereotypes. As responsible adults, it is our duty to guide and protect young minds, ensuring their well-being in an increasingly digital world.

Source: The Manila Times

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