I think this is it…the cherry on top of the scone of shocking and yet perfectly accepted practices in Beirut.
A recent article published in NowLebanon, informed about the concept of beauty stores for children.I chose the following excerpt from the article that says it all.
“Kids come in to take care of themselves, to look good and to pamper themselves.”
…such outlets are primarily avenues for Lebanon’s young girls to learn the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, a rationale echoed by the owners of the country’s other two children’s spas.
“They become more and more aware, they grow up knowing that they have to have clean hands and clean feet,” said Hilal.
Shouldn’t basic hygiene standards be taught at home and at schools simultaneously? or have beauty parlors taken over the education and the upbringing of the next generation?
What would a young girl, who at the age of four,is a regular at a beauty parlor, be doing at the age of 15 to live up to the image she was groomed to have? or at 25 for that matter?
In Lebanon, some parents from certain social classes have evolved their upbringing practices. In fact, they chose to just deliberately set the social expecations for their girls at a very early age. Those expectations will not only shape their children’s self-esteem but will also take away some basic elements of their innocence. The preoccupation with appearance and grooming should not be even on the list of concerns of a four year old, or a five year old and not even before mid adolescence. What about classic children preoccupations? Should girls be raised to believe that they have to conform to the expectations of the society for their appearance before they can even spell?
Reading this article, made me think of my childhood and what my concerns were at the time. I grew up during the civil war in Lebanon. Like many children of my generation, the so-called “war generation,” I have been initiated to flee my house leaving everything behind whenever the bombing got closer.
Apart from Chantale Goya, Ton Amie Lilianne and Zora La Rousse, Remy Bandali was my ultimate childhood idol. Two years my senior, Bandali was a child prodigy and a star at a very early age. We were in the same primary school and I saw her perform live on several occasions in Lebanon. I knew her songs by heart, every single one of them. I can still sing them to this day, 22 years later.
But the reason I mentioned Bandali is because one of her most famous songs landed her a performance at the Champs Elysees in France and stardom as the youngest performer in the world. The song is called: “Outouna el Toufouli” which literally means give us the childhood. Bandali sings in Arabic, French and English in the same song. I will transcribe the lyrics of the english section of the song which is a translation of the sections in the other languages.
“I am a child with something to say, Please listen to me
I am a child who wants to play , why dont you let me?
My dolls are waiting, my friends are praying, small houses are begging…give us a chance…give us a chance
Please, Please give us a chance”
In arabic, she says to give the children their childhood and to give them peace.
This song was a hit because it really portrayed with innocent lyrics, the tragedy of the livelihood of many Lebanese children growing amidst strife and violence of the civil war.
The irony of our evolution lies in the fact that many children of my generation were craving a childhood and lived in fear during a very tumultuous period in the country.While in 2009, values of education and civilization are making way for social decadence.
As a result, some children and girls in particular don’t have a childhood to claim, because it has been already taken away by their own parents.