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Make Up for 8 Year Olds? Walmart's Newest Money Maker

In the great American spirit of seizing every opportunity because it's there, a company has partnered with Walmart to bring us a new cosmetics line for tweens.

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So you might say Geo Girl is doing girls a favor by starting them young. For the nine-year-old role-playing mommy to her plastic infant, or whipping up a whole-grain pasta primavera in the Fisher-Price kitchen for her imagined hungry hubby, she may as well learn how to stay young while she’s still young by getting into the exfoliating habit today.

But what does Geo Girl think? After skimming the outraged reactions on a few blogs, I called Carden to make sure he really did say what’s being attributed to him. I argued with the assistant – Just five minutes! Just a few questions! – who at first insisted on passing me off to the public relations agency, then placed me on hold, and even asked me if I would call Walmart instead. Finally, after another bout on hold, she said she had been given permission to let me access his voicemail.

I left a message indicating that given how quickly an online echo chamber can develop around a story, I wanted to provide a fair opportunity for the man behind the product to speak about the issue. Executives usually avoid speaking directly to the press, of course (it can be disastrous). I’m not holding my breath.

Steering youngsters in the direction of eco-friendly personal care is commendable; for the average 13-year-old encountering the dreaded first pimple, parents should know there are healthy, organic options available these days. But makeup for a girl of eight? That’s a whole other can of hairspray.

My questions for Carden, by the way:

1. Why develop such a line? As executive vice president of marketing and sales for Geo Girl, what was your specific role in this?

2. Since Geo Girl products are expanding single use products into a new target demographic, how are they defensibly green? Are there significant non-eco-friendly competitors in your market?

3. How concerned are you about the feedback so far in the media?

4. Is there clinical evidence to suggest that eight-year-old skin benefits from regular exfoliation?

5. What kind of relevance does children wearing cosmetics have to the frequent cultural complaint that children, especially girls, are being sexualized at far too young an age?

Joel, I invite you to respond. Between us, I really wish you’d just give a girl a call.

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