A battlefield for a war against Sephora kids. Photo courtesy of premiumbeautynews.
BREANNA WILSON | OPINION COLUMNIST | email@example.com
Drunk Elephant, Summer Fridays, Glossier and more are all brands you’ve probably heard of and may have even purchased in the last year. The sleek packaging and promotions from big names such as Olivia Rodrigo and influencer Alix Earle have helped these brands spread and cater to a larger audience — even an audience they aren’t catered toward.
Yes, I am talking about Gen Alpha. In recent news, Gen Alpha has taken over these trends and gotten a lot of flack for it. Specifically, their treatment of employees and merchandise. Searching Sephora or any of the aforementioned brands on TikTok will give you a glimpse into the terror Gen Alpha is causing.
Many of these children go into these stores unsupervised and harass employees, annoy fellow shoppers and destroy products. This may seem like children just being children, but it suggests a larger issue at hand surrounding children and stores they have no business being in.
It’s not just TikTokers — older siblings and mothers are a huge influence on these children and when children see them using these products, they have the urge to mimic. This has led to children posting excessive videos of their skincare routine or recent hauls, much like big-name influencers do.
Sophomore biology major Alexa Hernandez feels like these trends are damaging as children feel pressured to grow up and compare themselves to people older than them.
“They don’t get to really live a childhood,” Hernandez said. “They’re automatically like, ‘Hey, I want to be a high school student. I want to be a college student’… It’s just so bad for their mental health to be compared to a high schooler and wanting to be [one] with those responsibilities and having those beauty standards when they shouldn’t even be worrying about that in the first place.”
When I visited Sephora this month, I was unlucky enough to witness firsthand what my peers and social media were saying about Gen Alpha. I walked in and saw a plethora of the phenomena I will refer to as “mini-Karens”: privileged, mean and aggressive children who share the same traits as an adult Karen. I witnessed them make “skincare smoothies” using boxed products, step in front of shoppers and give employees a hard time.
The issue here is a pure example of entitlement that parents have allowed their children to express. Most children learn these behaviors from their parents. If they see their mom or dad cuss out a supermarket employee for not restocking the Rae-Dunn stationary, they’re going to assume it’s okay to treat all retail workers like they are lesser.
First-year elementary education major Madison Boswell has seen first-hand how entitled children can be.
“I think they’re very annoying, especially when they come into my place of work — Urban Outfitters — and also try to buy adult clothing, and are rude to the people around them and the employees,” Boswell said.
Growing up, I’ve seen trends come and go, as well as been a part of them, but social media has made a big difference in how people participate in trends in this day and age. Apps like TikTok make it incredibly easy for children to be exposed to things like Sephora and brands like Summer Friday. While these brands are targeted toward an older demographic, TikTok and other apps have exposed children to things they would otherwise not know about.
This seems to be the case with many of these beauty trends like the ones we see on TikTok. Year after year a new trend takes the internet by storm and regardless of who its initial audience is, it always ends up in Gen Alpha’s hands. It makes you wonder what generation will be affected by the next big beauty trend.