St John’s Wood salon slammed for “unsuitable” kids parties

A St John’s Wood hair and beauty salon has come under fire from mothers for encouraging little girls to idolise models by holding fashion shoot parties for children as young as six.

Joshua Altback, which has been located in St John’s Wood High Street for 47 years, launched its Make Me a Model parties a couple of months ago.

The parties aim to give girls a model experience by providing them with a professional hair, face and nail makeover before taking part in a photo shoot.

Critics say the parties teach young girls to place too much importance on their bodies by encouraging them to be more beauty conscious.

But salon owner Joshua Altback says the experience is classy and feedback has been positive.

“We aren’t talking about glamour modelling; it’s not tacky,” he said.

“We had 12 seven-year-olds in recently. They came in with their own clothes to wear and we did some funky hairstyles for them.

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“We didn’t put make-up on them but we put some sparkly things on their faces and did their nails as well. Then they had their photos taken just like a model would.

“Doesn’t every young girl like dressing up and putting their mum’s make-up on?

“Everyone has their own views but all I can say is that we keep it very classy, we use professionals and everyone gets great pictures.”

However, two organisations for local mothers have criticised the Make Me a Model parties and argued that there is already enough pressure on young girls to be image conscious.

One of the women behind the group Maida Vale Mums said: “There’s enough encouragement on TV and in the media for girls to grow up fast and be conscious about their image as it is.

“I certainly would never book this kind of party for my daughter. I know that little girls like to copy their mums, look pretty and dress up but that’s totally different to aspiring to look like a model.”

Monique McGoey-Rabone, of online magazine West London Mum, said: “As parents, we should be careful to protect our children’s self-esteem and self-image, especially of young girls where there is already enough pressure out there.”

But Stephanie Ben-Yair, whose nine and six-year-old daughters shared a party at the salon, says she would recommend it.

“The girls all took turns to have their nails painted, hair pinned up, styled and have make-up applied,” she said.

“Once ready, they had all their photos taken by a professional photographer.

“They danced to all their favourite music and had a really splendid time,” she said.