Salon defends child spray tans
The owner of a beauty salon for children offering haircuts, nail painting and even spray tans for customers as young as 16 months has said: "Who am I to say no to parents?"
The Trendy Monkeys salon in Brentwood, Essex, opened on Saturday catering specifically for under-13s.
The youngest child brought to the opening was a 16-month-old toddler.
The salon is owned by former catalogue model Michelle Devine, 28, who believes she is providing for a growing number of style-conscious youngsters. But the venture has attracted criticism from campaigners who say it may force children to grow up too quickly.
Mother-of-two Miss Devine offers a range of Princess Parties including manicures, make-up application and facials. Future plans include ear piercing and spray tanning, if there is demand from customers. She said television show The Only Way is Essex had put the county on the glamour map and her store would capitalise on that.
Miss Devine said she would spray tan a child if asked, although she would not encourage it, adding: "Let's face it, little girls just want to be like their mums."
She said: "Girls are conscious of their image from a young age. Whenever I have my nails done my daughters have their nails done as well. This shop will be specifically aimed at children and will cater to their need to feel good about themselves and take pride in their appearance in a fun-filled environment."
Maxine Chinowaith, 11, a pupil at St Helen's Primary School in Brentwood, was among the first youngsters to visit the salon. She told the Brentwood Gazette: "My dad came home from the gym and brought me home a leaflet, and that's how I heard about it. I like a lot of pink, and I will definitely come here again. I think I will try the make-up next time."
But Claude Knights, director of child protection charity Kidscape, said such businesses risked sexualising children.
She said: "This could send out a dangerous message to young people and harm their development. This parlour just serves to highlight the dangers we are campaigning to stop."