What Do I Tell My Little Girl About (Wearing) Makeup?
Makeup. The definition of this word is rather simple. ‘To apply makeup’ means dabbing your face with cosmetics such as lipstick and/or powder – the purpose largely being to enhance the appearance.
So, how old was your mother when she started applying makeup? 21? How old were you when you first applied a lip gloss or a rosy blush? 15, maybe? And how old was your daughter when she started wearing makeup? 6? I am not surprised.
I recently met a mom who had bought a mobile handset for her 4-year-old daughter. Yet another had gifted a pack of neon lipsticks to her daughter on her 8th birthday. “That’s her favourite thing these days!” she told me. What a wonderful way to feel guiltless.
What Do I Tell My 10-Year-Old Going on 20?
But the old-fashioned me is blatantly shocked. How and why would you let your little girl wear makeup at such a tender age? With a million beauty blogs out there talking about ‘makeup for little girls’ and around a zillion fashion blogs happily giving out information on ‘how to lose weight in 7 days so that you could fit into a size zero outfit’, a world out there seems ready to lead fragile souls to anorexia and body image issues.
These days, even a kid’s magazine comes with a free gift which is either glittery nail paint or a ‘natural lip gloss’.
So what do I tell my little girl who is only 10 but going on 20?
What do I tell my 10-year-old who has stopped having breakfast because she wants to look skinny? Who has been painting her face in creamy white foundation just so she looks ‘fair’ and ‘cool’?
Should I unsubscribe to all those magazines? Should I ban the internet at home? Should I keep a closer eye on her friends – because even friends could gift her that glittery nail paint and that red lipstick and the idea of looking airbrushed at 10?
The first time I found a veil of foundation in my 10-year-old’s school bag, I raised the red flag to my husband. We thought it would be a good idea for the family to sit down and have a conversation about makeup – and here’s what we did:
We explained that applying makeup is a cool idea but that there are certain responsibilities attached to it. I explained to her that while some cosmetics are good for personal hygiene and skin care, there are others that she simply doesn’t need right now As an experiment, I handed her a bag full of makeup items and asked her to choose the top three that she would like to use at this stage. She went for a face wash first – at which, my husband complimented her for having chosen an item that was meant to take care of her skin (breakouts at 10 can be pretty common). The next item on her list was a coloured gloss – a decision we gently revoked, asking her to select a clear gloss instead. We let her know that once she’d shown responsible behaviour over a period of time, she would be upgraded to a coloured lip gloss.
The last item she picked up was a hand cream – yet another choice we supported, explaining to her why this was a healthier choice.
Between Makeup and Tooth Fairies
So, you see, in the end it was easy. There was no point in displaying anger or rigidity – each child is unique. A hostile ‘no’ when it comes to talking about things you consider sort-of-taboo is not the right approach. A two-way communication is key to building trust between the parent and the child.
I am happy that my little girl understood my point of view. But then, that’s ‘our’ personal choice.
I know lots of moms who are perfectly fine with the idea of their three-year-olds applying makeup. Now that’s their choice. I can only think of myself at that age, playing peek-a-boo and riding a bike like a wild thing. I guess that’s why I wanted my girl to cherish her childhood making memories of innocence. A childhood peppered with Santa stories and tooth fairy fantasies.
Which is probably why I sat down with her the other day. That small veil of foundation might have meant nothing – but I wasn’t ready to watch my girl’s innocence evaporate in the fumes of makeup just yet.
(Founder of The Champa Tree, Vaishali is a mother (and on-the-job-learner), a communication consultant and now a full-time-slave. The Champa Tree was conceived in May, 2014 – around the same time that her son was born. TCT is a blog on motherhood and parenting.)
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