Mom Gives Botox to 8-Year-Old Daughter: How Young Is Too Young?

How young is too young when it comes to treatments like Botox for girls?

May 11, 2011, 2:38 PM

May 12, 2011 -- Botox injections and leg waxing on an 8-year-old girl, all in the name of beauty pageant success, all done by her own mom.

It sounds too unreal to be true, like a storyline straight out of "When Stage Moms Go Bad."

It's not.

It's real life for an 8-year-old California girl.

We spoke with the girl, Britney, and her mom, Kerry, to learn exactly why they turned to Botox, and exactly how young is too young when it comes to using medical treatments for the sake of beauty.

Kerry, who asked that her family's last name not be used, told "Good Morning America's" Lara Spencer that it was actually her daughter, Britney, who wanted to try Botox, a beauty treatment more normally requested by aging women than growing girls.

"We were getting into the pageants," Kerry recalled. "I knew she was complaining about her face, having wrinkles, and things like that. When I brought it up to Britney she was all for it."

So Kerry, a San Francisco, Calif.-based, part-time aesthetician and no stranger to Botox herself, having done the treatment on her own face, began injecting her daughter with the anti-wrinkle solution.

"She had watched me do it before," said Kerry. "So when we first did it she was fine with it."

Kerry typically administers the Botox to Britney through a total of five shots, in three different locations on her face.

But can Botox really make a difference on a young girl who has not even had time in her life to develop the "worry" lines or age creases Botox is typically sought out to erase?

"The few times that we did it, it would lessen the lines," said Kerry. "They wouldn't completely disappear, she's a kid. And we don't do so much to where it's going to make a big difference."

But it's enough of a difference for Kerry and Britney to continue on with the treatments, despite the pain.

"It hurts sometimes," said Britney. "It makes me nervous. But I get used to it."

While Britney thinks about the physical pain, critics in the medical community contend that administering Botox this early raises another type of more lasting pain: the potential for permanent psychological damage.

"Well, when I first heard this story, I think my initial reaction is to be a little bit in disbelief, and a little bit horrified," said Dr. Charles Sophy, a psychiatrist. "There's a lot of psychological damage that can be caused."

Responding to Critics: How Young is Too Young?

Kerry, however, argues that her daughter is a normal 8-year-old, not fazed emotionally, or physically, by the cosmetic procedure.

"Do you see anything wrong with my daughter, psychologically?," she asked. "I don't see anything wrong with her. I have a normal child. It's not breaking her spirit. She's happy. She runs around. She's smart."

And Kerry also takes point with critics in that same medical community who say the Botox could cause adverse reactions in her young daughter.

"I don't do enough on her to make a big difference," she said. "Just on the lines."

The potential for both emotional and physical damage makes critics like Dr. Sophy hesitant to prescribe or administer Botox to children, so Kerry must rely on her own methods to gain access to Botox for Britney.

"I do have a trusted source where I get it. He is a behind-the-scene doctor," she said.

And where there is one "trusted source" for Kerry and Britney's Botox, there must be more. Kerry says she is not the only mother giving Botox to a child.

"I got influenced by some of the moms when we went to one of the pageants," Kerry said about what prompted her to begin Britney on Botox. "They were telling me about the lines on her face. A lot of the moms are giving their kids Botox. It happens."

Beyond Botox?

The tough competition of the pageant world also prompted Kerry to try another type of cosmetic treatment on Britney, one that even middle-aged women find painful: waxing.

"I just don't think it's ladylike to have hair on your legs," explained Britney. "I did that one time. It was super, super hard. It hurts."

"They call it little fluffy hair," said Kerry. "They get judged on all that stuff. It's a tough world, the pageant world, I'm telling you. The kids are harsh."

But even the toughness of the pageant world can't persuade Britney to continue waxing.

Asked if she would do it again, the normally talkative 8-year-old was ready with a one-word answer: "no."

And Britney's mom, Kerry, is similarly defiant when it comes to defending herself against critics who question what she is doing as a mother to her own daughter.

"I'm a great mother. I've taken care of her by myself my whole life," she said. "And nobody can really tell me what I'm doing is wrong. Because it's me. I live in my shoes. And she lives in hers."

"She's a happy kid," she added. "And that's the bottom line."