just kidding?

Walmart Tween Makeup Turns Moms Into H8ers [Updated]

Posted by Dale Buss on January 28, 2011 11:00 AM

Occasionally, even a retailer as savvy as Wal-Mart steps in it. That may be what’s happening with the chain’s decision to develop its own beauty line aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds — the fledgling fashionistas marketers call tweens.

GeoGirl, which debuts in February, replaces the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen cosmetics line. It's designed for young skin, with natural ingredients such as white willow bark and chamomile. Sold in recyclable packaging, natch, the items are named in tween-speak texting slang such as J4G (Just For Grins).

“GeoGirl is about teaching this generation about beauty care in a responsible way,” stated Carmen Bauza, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s vice president and divisional merchandise manager of beauty and personal care. “This [line] is a great learning experience for us to determine how to communicate with this generation.”

That may be Wal-Mart's corporate rationale for encouraging kids to wear makeup. But it didn’t take long for outraged moms and others to take shots at what seemed to them like child exploitation by Wal-Mart.

“More prosti-tot merchandise,” dismisses a commenter on the Shop Girl blog. Another snarks, “What’s the philosophy – the sooner they start wearing makeup, the sooner they can get knocked up and come back to Walmart to buy cases of diapers and baby goods?”

And yet another commenter says it's par for the course at a brand that “sold the Bratz dolls when everyone knew they were so trashy and decent people wouldn’t let their daughters buy them.” Ouch.

OK, so opinions are a dime a dozen on the internet. But in his monologue on The Tonight Show last night, even Jay Leno weighed in.

"What is an 8-year- old [doing] using anti-aging products?" Leno quipped. "Is it a hip look now trying to pass [yourself off] as a fetus? What is it — little girls put on makeup to look older, right? And then the anti-aging products to look younger? Hello! You're right back where you started!"

Leno appears to have jumped to the conclusion that the products are billed as “anti-aging” only from a headline on The Drudge Report.

But the damage may have been done nonetheless. Wal-Mart has made a point of not sinking too low in terms of the implied morality of CDs, magazines and other products it sells. And last week it scored a PR coup when Michelle Obama, who's using her platform as First Lady to get kids moving and eating healthy, helped kick off Wal-Mart's healthy food commitment.

Such considerations seem to have sneaked by them with GeoGirl.

Update: Wal-Mart's PR agency sent us the following statement —

To clarify and correct previous inaccurate reports, the geoGIRL line does not contain any anti-aging products and it is not marketed to eight-year-olds. The geoGIRL™ line was developed in partnership with Walmart customers, parents and educators to give parents a healthier, age-appropriate option for their tween girls who ask about wearing make-up and help parents teach their child healthy skin care. The decision of what age is appropriate to wear makeup rests solely with the parent. The line will be marketed to parents and targets a certain life stage as opposed to a certain age of girl so parents can make informed decisions whenever they feel it’s appropriate for their child to start wearing make-up.  


go girl global United States says:

NO WAY Walmart! Girls 8-12 don't need 2 be marketed make-up. "go GIRL global's" INNER BEAUTY shows growing girls they are ALREADY beautiful.

January 28, 2011 01:27 PM #

Alex United States says:

This "controversey" is just idiotic. Makeup is not "sexual" or "innapropriate" at all. Parents are really just too perverted and way too overprotective these days. 8-12 years old is a fine, and normal age to start wearing makeup and caring more about their physical appearance and developing an identity for themselves. The message comes from the parents, not the makeup, not the Bratz dolls, not the movies, etc. An 8 year old wearing makeup is not sexual, and if anybody interprets it that way, THEY have the problems, not WalMart. And on that note, if you don't like it, don't buy it! Keep over-sheltering your child until they can't think for themselves, while we "indecent" people raise self-aware, and self-sufficiant children Smile

January 28, 2011 03:27 PM #

linnie miller United States says:

all well and good if you let your little girl wear makeup. But with all the prevs  out there do you really want to encourage them?   Did you know they are coming out with a product to stimmulate your breast now what next??

January 28, 2011 06:05 PM #

Merchandising Peru Peru says:

If the main objective of wearing makeup is to look more atractive to the other sex (do not tell me this is not the main objective, be realistic) therefore wearing makeup indeed has a form of sexual connotation. The controversy is not "idiotic" as you said, it is valid, they have a point, so please show respect to those concerned parents.

January 31, 2011 07:45 AM #

Mike United States says:

Alex, the only point you make I agree with is "if you don't like it, don't buy it."  Indeed.  And I hope that the majority of parents are intelligent enough to not buy these products for their 8 - 12 year old daughters.  I have a 10 year old daughter, and there's no way she should be wearing make up at her age.  I'm not being over-protective, I'm being logical.  She's extremely impressionable, and I won't let her distort her self-image by thinking she needs make-up.  Who in their right mind would promote that to their kids??

January 31, 2011 11:10 AM #

go girl global United States says:

Mike - your daughter is lucky to have a dad who is so "dialed in" to promoting her self-esteem!  We agree with Mike, Linnie and MP above.  Yes parents interested in equipping their growing girls with a steady stream of messages that they are smart, strong and beautiful without make-up can choose to not purchase this product.  The team at "go GIRL global" hopes that corporations will increasingly choose product line offerings that promote a positive image for the next generation of scientists, artists, athletes...when it comes to clothes, books, accessories and more.

January 31, 2011 12:39 PM #

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