Petite 'N Pretty makeup
  • Petite 'N Pretty is a makeup brand marketing itself to children aged four to 18.
  • It is particularly targeting Gen Z influencers, and products sell for R220 to about R3,400 on the company's website.
  • Some people find both the name and the concept problematic.

A California-based startup is encouraging toddlers to wear makeup with its new products.

Petite 'N Pretty founder Samantha Cutler, the former chief of product development at Stila Cosmetics, said the makeup for youngsters should promote creativity and expression - and the words "petite" and "pretty" have nothing to do with it.

"Young creatives are changing the way the world sees pretty by redefining it on their terms with a next-gen point of view that celebrates sparkle in everyone," Petite 'N Pretty's website reads. "This is about good old-fashioned fun."

But some believe that the $445-billion-dollar (R6.1 trillion) beauty industry expanding into options for children could have harmful consequences by shaping what they believe is beautiful.

The brand's website and Instagram feature images of young girls wearing full faces of makeup, and some feel that the brand over-sexualises children.

Petite 'N Pretty's makeup rage features lip glosses, eye shadows, glitter and more, with products priced between $16 and $250.

The products are marketed to children aged four to 18, particularly Gen Z influencers on Instagram, YouTube and other social media outlets. Buyers on the company's website have to be at least 16.

People have been quick to criticise the new makeup line, with Allure's beauty editor, Sable Young, saying the way it's marketed could be problematic.

"I balk at the idea of marketing to kids the same kinds of language and imagery that funnels certain specific aesthetics and beauty standards into seemingly innocuous, sparkly packaging," she wrote.

Young added that the company's name itself could be harmful to children.

"With a brand called Petite 'N' Pretty, the message is upfront in the name. "Pretty" and "petite" are both words that are just modifiers, but in the context of beauty and body image, they take on a meaning we know all too well," she wrote.

Fast Company's Elizabeth Segran said the use of "petite" and "pretty" promotes a "focus on superficial looks, rather than intelligence or character."

She also noted that the name is a "uniquely gendered concept."

"Most brands encourage four-year-old boys to aspire to be brave, strong, and smart," she wrote.

Meanwhile, Petite 'N Pretty has said the word "petite" references age, not size.

"We believe that pretty is a feeling and petites should never be underestimated," the company's website says. "Inspired by the way young creatives are changing how the world sees pretty by redefining it on their terms, we wanted our name to put them and their creative expression front and centre."

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