Scrolling through facebook, I saw a mom worried about her pre-teen daughter who wanted to start wearing makeup. Wasn’t she too young? When should a young girl be allowed to wear makeup? How much is acceptable? What kind of attention will they draw? What’s a mother to do????
First off, take a deep breath. Whether your child is two, twelve, or twenty– makeup, too much of it or the lack thereof can be a stressful, argument-causing issue and I’ll give you my two cents worth on the subject and you can decide if it’s even worth that much.
The RULE in the Reback household is no make up until your 16.
And that rule gets broken every day.
Daly Kay followed it pretty well. Ryli wasn’t too into makeup until about 18 years old. And Blissy bent it almost every day since she was about 14.
I’ll be straight up honest and tell you that Verity (2yo) doesn’t make a move out of her crib in the morning without three different lip glosses. (As you can tell from the photo above, if she is ever too quiet, I can count on my bathroom supply of makeup and nail polish being in jeopardy.)
I am a failure as a parent.
Truthfully, I think the make up issue can be taken way too seriously. I originally set the age at 16 mostly because I just wanted to ignore the fact that my daughter was growing up and that boys were going to look at her. In my mind I still see a six year old wearing her school uniform and saddle shoes, but I digress.
You see, the issue isn’t just the make up itself. Is my daughter wearing make up because I do everyday, or is she wearing it to attract the attention of a certain cutie pie in her pre-algebra class? Does my daughter know that she has intrinsic value and natural beauty or does she believe that only with make up is her face tolerable? Is she doing it to feel good about her self and her image or is she doing it for attention? And the lines get blurred among all those distinctions the more we try and sort them out anyhow.
Makeup is a toughie, but in the end I’ve decided to look at it like this:
1: The assumption that our daughters want to wear makeup for the attention of boys is not always accurate. I’ve got one daughter who wears heels and makeup almost every single day and she flat out does it for herself. If it happens to attract the attention of young men– added bonus.
2: As a mom, we may be really into makeup and so our daughters are as well, or conversely we may not be into makeup at all and so our daughters are very curious. Neither is bad or wrong.
3: The part where it gets tricky is if your daughter is posting pictures on social media that are meant to attract the wrong kind of attention. And I’m sorry, but with internet sensations like the Kardashians– I’m pretty dang sure none of us is escaping the teen years without some pretty tough conversations with our girls about appropriate pictures, the messages they are sending, and even then sometimes it seems like an uphill battle.
4: We don’t need to assume that they want to do it to “rush” growing up…they may be doing it because WE wear makeup, or because lots of their peers do, or because it just looks so fun, or because their favorite female music artist wears it…not some inherently evil reason. Let’s try to not to assume the worst about why our kids want to do something.
5: It’s a personal decision moms. Don’t judge why your friend allows it and why you don’t and why you are obviously right. In this day and age of confusing sexuality, over sexualization of everything, immense social media pressures and moms/neighbors/teachers judging our every move and claiming they know better, we need to just encourage each other in this hard-as-hell job.
It really doesn’t matter so much what age they start wearing makeup, it matters most what they believe about themselves. When I see my daughters doing their hair, getting dressed, and (gasp) putting on makeup, I am glad that they do take time to care for their appearances. I’m happy that they try to put their best foot forward in their everyday interactions with friends and team mates, and if certain boys take extra notice because of the lip gloss, then likely they would have even without it.