At nearly 12 years old my youngest daughter finally asked for makeup to experiment with. She’s waited until she is quite old to let me know she is interested. If she practices over time she can learn to apply it neatly. But if she thinks she can wear a ton of black eye-liner to go shopping in town with her friends, I will have something to say about it! I’m sure that won’t happen.
Why do I think my opinion on my child’s makeup matters? After all, we have to pick our battles and there are bigger issues like homework.
I can’t avoid the concerns about young girls wearing makeup. At one end of the scale it could be self-expression but at the other end of the scale there is sexualisation. Mums are leaders to their children so my opinion will always chime, whether they appear to be listening or not.
My Own History of Makeup
As a child I had a large strawberry birthmark on my nose. My mum bought me foundation and powder to cover it when I was around 11. I was not encouraged into anything beyond this, but I was curious. I did have other makeup as a thirteen year old. Sometimes with a friend we applied lipstick and eye-shadow badly and removed it in a hurry.
We weren’t supposed to be allowed makeup at school and I remember a male teacher made a lot of negative comments about it. To be fair, he did say we all looked good without it, and we might need it when we get old. I guess that was ok, but it stuck with me because I thought, what does he know, because he is a man?
Back then there was a book on the stall at church, about a young girl who wore makeup when out with friends. She hid this from her parents who didn’t want her to wear it. She wiped it off on the way home with a tissue and in the end she got an eye infection. Nothing else about church made me think that makeup was inherently bad and I was confused by the so-called Christian message in this book. Eventually I realised the book was not really about makeup. In a crass way it was a warning about disobeying parents. The theme about makeup confused me.
I never discussed makeup with my mum and I probably should have because books like this, and my opinionated male teacher, were not much help.
Providing a Good Perspective
A few years ago I bought both my daughters a makeup set. My youngest was barely 9 so hers was mostly tinted lip-balm. I wanted my girls to know that I thought it was ok to play with the stuff. I never want them to feel that it is banned or frowned on. Above all, I didn’t want it to be something they felt they should hide from me. Anytime I could say “wash your face, you’re wearing too much” or “take that off before you go out”. Those sets are still completely untouched but at least I gained the initiative.
I don’t want my children to hide makeup from me, but equally I don’t want them to go overboard. It’s true that they look better without it and I can tell them so. I want to be able to give them perspective. For example they already understand that I would wear more for a night out and less in the day and this makes sense to them. If they are choosing their own clothes, then I have to assume they are ready to express themselves with makeup too.
In my view, if teenagers never experiment with makeup, then suddenly one day an event like Prom will come around and they will have no idea of how to approach it. There will be a sudden crisis! I do see practical advantages in kids having a go.
Starting to use makeup means starting to take care of skin, thinking about cleansing hygiene and moisturiser. It’s a good time to add in some sun protection and avoid permanent damage to vulnerable young skin.
The one thing I did add to the new makeup bag for my tween was remover wipes. The girl in the silly book at church did remind that proper cleansing is no joke. It’s important.
What is your experience of children starting to use makeup? Let me know in the comments!
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