Glamour Babes

All dolled up: Cami Pelletier, 8, left, Amber Bearon, 5, and Mikaela Barboza, 4, strut their stuff at friend Kayla Bisko's birthday party at the Tysons Corner franchise.
All dolled up: Cami Pelletier, 8, left, Amber Bearon, 5, and Mikaela Barboza, 4, strut their stuff at friend Kayla Bisko's birthday party at the Tysons Corner franchise. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)

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By Libby Copeland
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturdays, Club Libby Lu in the Tysons Corner mall is filled with little girls wanting makeovers. The staffers who do makeup and hair call the little girls "princess," each and every one.

"That's the only name we know," says one staffer with pride.

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."

There's a 4-year-old on the catwalk whose tube top slips so low it would be indecent if she were older. A mom dashes out into the aisle, yanks it up. And the little princess, oblivious, keeps grinning toward the crowd of smiling grown-ups.

* * *

The store is pink. There are pink ruffles around the light fixtures. The walls and stools are blue and pink. The staff wears pink. There are pink cowboy hats for sale, pink Ugg-like boots, pink phones decorated with pink feathers. There are rings with huge diamonds, like J.Lo might wear (only fake), with pink packaging that reads "Bling! Bling!"

A club counselor's voice rings out: "You're all finished, princess!"

A little girl slides off a stool, looks in a pink, heart-shaped mirror and beams. She jumps in elation and touches the silver stars adhered to her cheek.

Club Libby Lu sells fantasy in 83 locations across the country (including one in Columbia), and that fantasy is pink and fluffy and smells like "Role Model," a perfume 7-year-old Vicenza Belletti is right now spraying over and over into her hair. Libby Lu sells T-shirts and tank tops that say things like "Local Celebrity" and "My {heart} Belongs to Shopping." Mothers and daughters wander the aisles, looking at the feather boas and the clip-on hair extensions, at the sequined handbags, at the Super Smooch Lip Gloss and the Diva Du Shampoo.

Michelle Cox, accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter, Makayla, rolls her infant son's stroller. She's not here for a party. They're buying Makayla a purse, but Makayla keeps seeing more things she wants.

"You don't need any more lip gloss," her mom tells her.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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