The skanky Chuck E. Cheese

The skanky Chuck E. Cheese

I gather that the big deal in children’s birthdays these days is taking the kids to one of these amusements centers where there are a million kids, the food is barely edible, and the amusements are expensive. But the flip side is you don’t have a bunch of kids running around your house, no food to prepare, etc. If that floats your boat, fine. There are worse things than Chuck E. Cheese.

But there’s a whole new level of disturbing coming in competitors to the pizza-slinging rat. How about a birthday club that turns girls into skanks?

Mostly it’s birthday parties at Club Libby Lu. A girl turns 6 and she wants the Tween Idol makeover for herself and her friends, complete with makeup, punky hair and a pink headset like Britney Spears might wear onstage. All the girls get to borrow party costumes. Many choose low-slung pants and sequined spandex tops cropped just under where their breasts would be, if they had any. Sometimes, the girls are so small their pants legs drag under their sneakers.

After the makeovers, the club counselors, as they’re known, lead the girls in a dance, teaching them to “shimmy down” and to “shake it, shake it.” Sometimes they arrange a fashion catwalk. The girls walk down the aisle of the store till they reach the front, where mothers hold cameras. Here, the girls fling one arm theatrically toward the ceiling. The song on the store stereo says: “Wet your lips/And smile to the camera.”

Remember when part of the shock of the JonBenet Ramsey murder was how her parents dolled her up for beauty pageants, even though she was just a little girl? We all nodded knowingly that sexualizing that poor little girl probably had something to do with her death. A decade later and now it’s mainstream.

Lexy comes here a lot. She had her eighth birthday here—25 girls getting “The Super Star” makeover with hair extensions, at a cost of more than $500. They arrived in a stretch limo: $600. “It had a disco ball, huh, Lex?” says her mother. “This year you want a Hummer.”

Lexy chooses blue nail polish for her fingers. One of the club counselors paints her nails and dusts glitter over Lexy’s hands. “You want me to buy you an outfit, Lexy?” her mom says. “Yeah,” says Lexy, choosing blue eye shadow.

Lexy’s mom describes her as “gifted” and a “brainiac.” Lexy says when she grows up, she wants to be a model. “My oldest models,” says her mom.

The cult of the child. In a culture that despises innocence and virginity, we worship our children not in and of themselves but as miniature versions of ourselves. This is why there is the impulse to strip away childhood and turn them into little adults. It is a selfishness and self-centeredness in the parent.

As Mark Shea says, Show me a culture that despises virginity and I’ll show you a culture that despises children. Going to hell in a handbasket.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli