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Sephora Kids Used to be Us.

A new phenomenon of collective anger has formed on social media: the hatred of ‘Sephora kids’. These are young girls ruining testers and selling out products made for grown women, and demanding products from Sephora staff, hence the current uproar on TikTok. Social media has decided to blame the parents for enabling their children to carry out this behaviour. But is it fair to blame the parents entirely? The reality behind it all is a lot deeper than marketing expensive products to an inappropriate demographic - little girls just want to grow up way too fast, no matter the generation.


Girls start puberty from age 8. Little girls, at age 8, begin to understand the realities of being a woman in, still very much so, a patriarchal world. They start to grow boobs and bums, and new lumps and bumps to go along with them. They are at an age where they are very clearly children but will do anything they can to be seen as an adult. At that impressionable period in our lives, our generation wanted to have the thigh-gap of our older sisters, the hips of our mothers, and the overall look of the girls we watched on Disney channel – the ones playing teens but who were really in their late 20s. Our perception of age is blurred, as, when younger, we want to grow up, but are told that when we are old, we should try to look younger. Girls, at the age of 8, begin to wish their girlhood away, to become what they think makes a woman, albeit only at surface level. 


Back then, we would do anything we could to look like the female role models in our lives, in the same way that little girls today want to look like their favourite influencers on TikTok. Key media has shifted from TV, to YouTube, to TikTok – it is inevitable that little girls want to look like influencers of our age, as we are the generation running TikTok. Consequently, they want the products we use, despite not being appropriate for them.  


Fortunately for our generation, our equivalent popular products weren’t quite as high-end, but still out-of-budget for many of us. Zoella and Tanya Burr made us believe that you couldn’t live without an EOS lip balm, or the full Real Techniques brush and beauty blender sets (which today, I am still brainwashed into believing are the best items since sliced bread). We too were very influenced from social media to buy into products too rich for our skin, and too expensive for our pocket money.


The equivalent of our £20 Zoella bath sets are the products now sold in Sephora and Space NK. Aligning with general beauty trends of our generation, since COVID, there has been a push on skincare over makeup, with a heavy focus on active ingredients such as retinol, BHAs and AHAs. These ingredients are made for women, post-puberty, post-teen, in genuine adulthood. Little girls are seeing our generation of women in their 20s promoting said products for other women, but in order to look like us, they feel the need to use our products too. Drunk Elephant, a brand made for grown women with fine lines and wrinkles, mostly containing retinols, is being bought by little girls with premature skin. The products are simply not made for them and causes more harm than good in their life-time skin health. Due to the products being made for women who have the money to shop, they are sold in high-end stores like Space NK and Sephora, which are not built for children. As a result, product testers are being destroyed as young girls play with them, not understanding the expense and luxury behind it all. They save and save, all to buy a vanilla-scented lip balm from Summer Fridays, to bring into school the next week.


Social media is in deep outrage at the young girls and their parents for the damage caused to the stores, but perhaps this shouldn’t be the focus. Gen-z are openly discussing the issues faced in girls growing up too quickly, now working on healing their inner-child – perhaps the outrage is the projection of hurt we feel seeing little girls wish their childhoods away. An entire generation of young women have collectively begun to wear specific accessories and carry out fun activities together in order to feel more connected to their younger selves. It is a beautiful thing to be able to reverse time for a second in our 20s, and Gen-z has made sure we all have room to do so, from the croquette trend, to wearing pink ballet pumps to the club, we want to feel young again, and it breaks our hearts to see these young girls today so desperate to grow up. It has allowed our mini-selves, who bought products too rich for our skin, to go back to a simpler time and relive the period of time we wished away: our girlhood.


Rather than criticising the parents and misbehaved girls, why don’t we talk about the wider issue – what girls are taught makes them women, and why we are taught to grow up quicker than is natural.

Words: Maya Omare, she/her

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