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Seriously, this was today’s groupon in my area. And yes, this was the accompanying picture.

This picture is ridiculous

This picture is ridiculous

GROUPON’s wording: Fashion diva parties for up to eight friends start with a fashion makeover and updo, followed by a glamorizing makeup application and nail polishing. Then partygoers hit the floor for a dance party and become models for the day, practicing poses on an in-store runway. The party wraps up with a group fashion photo.

Bubblegum pink. Sugary treats. Rhinestones and glitter. Sweet and Sassy’s stylists pamper moppets during shrunken-down spa treatments spun with these elements. As tots lounge on tangerine pillows, kid-calibrated manicures and pedicures bejewel their keratin shields with sparkly nail art and adorn their favorite digits with rings and toe rings. Facials slather visages with gentle, sweet-smelling concoctions, and ear-piercing services add appropriate glint to kids’ facial regions so that they can stop lodging beads in their nostrils. For birthday parties, celebrants can arrive in the spa’s pink limousine before strutting down the runway in Sweet and Sassy’s glittery gowns.”

This really saddens me. As if there aren’t enough appearance-centered mixed messages for young girls. Now we “celebrate” their birthdays with an obligation to be a diva, to pierce ears, ride in limousines, get bejeweled? It’s ironic that this comes on the same day when Blue Milk posted this shocking video about how negative or misdirected images warp a young woman’s view of herself and her place in the world. The statistics are sobering. We inundate our youngsters with unhealthy and negative images, and yet we think a few uplifting words at home are powerful enough to counteract these horrible messages. When parents say, “Hey honey, this is how we celebrate you with pink and glitter and sass,” we’re telling them that these are things we value. What would be better is a birthday that celebrates their individuality, not how they can be like everyone else. We want to celebrate their place in the world, maybe among their families and animals and nature, not their place in the world in a limousine acting like a vapid starlet.

I’ll admit I don’t have children. I know parents love nothing more than the childless judging their choices. However, some things are pretty clear. Children will become what they see. If young girls see a barrage of images and messages telling them to be leaders, to think for themselves, to stand up for good, to be comfortable in their own skin, well then they are less likely to have eating disorders, to blow out their credit cards on materialistic trends, to think it’s funny to “play dumb,” to never raise their hands because they know the correct answers, and to spend more time applying makeup at school than actually learning.

For more information on how and why all this matters, check out the powerful work being done to change this at MissRepresenation.org.

The film Miss Representation exposes how American youth are being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality. It’s time to break that cycle of mistruths.

In response we created MissRepresentation.org, a call-to-action campaign that seeks to empower women and girls to challenge limiting media labels in order to realize their potential.

We are uniting individuals around a common, meaningful goal to spark millions of small actions that ultimately lead to a cross-generational movement to eradicate gender stereotypes and create lasting cultural and sociological change.