When I first became a mom, our morning routine often consisted of me bringing my infant daughter into the bathroom with me as I got ready for work. She would happily kick her chubby baby legs in her bouncy seat as I took a Guinness world record-breaking fast shower, gathered my hair into a classic wet mom bun, and put on what I believe is the essential minimal makeup look: concealer (hello late-night nursing sessions), pressed powder, blush, maybe some mascara, and the piece de resistance – a swipe of lip gloss.
Fast forward, and now both of my daughters still accompany me in the bathroom most mornings as I get ready for work each morning. Let’s be honest here, they often accompany me to the bathroom no matter what. As they got older, they would intently watch me apply my makeup and comment…
“Mama, what is that?”
“Can I please have some?”
“It’s so shiny.”
“I love the color.”
One morning during our weekday morning bathroom routine, my eldest daughter innocently stated: “Oh Mama, you are so pretty. I want to wear makeup just like you.” Automatically, in an almost knee jerk reaction, I stated confidently, “Makeup does not make you pretty, makeup is for fun.” And from that day forward, it became our makeup mantra.
For the past four years, our daughters have participated in various dance recitals. On the days of the big performance or picture days, I was instructed to give them rosy cheeks, red lips, and sparkly eyes. They couldn’t get enough.
This year they auditioned to be in the Nutcracker, and not only did they have to wear makeup for the performances, but we were also asked to go out and purchase their own makeup items. I was more than happy to go to CVS and buy them their supplies, because hello GERMS!
They adored their new cache of makeup. They would carefully pull out each perfectly labeled piece and gingerly admire the eyeshadow pallet and soft pale compact.
I started to wonder when it’s OK for a young girl to start wearing makeup. Is it harmful to allow it sometimes? Am I an awful role model and mom?
And I think the parenting question that most often nags at our heartstrings, but the one we don’t admit…What will other people think?
However, the more I thought about it, the more comfortable I became with letting them explore makeup. I was not forcing this on them, I was simply following their lead. One of the ways in which a child learns about their world is through dressing up. They take on different roles through their play, and that’s how they communicate. Our girls are obsessed with dress-up, and creative play and makeup is just another medium for them to express themselves creatively.
In today’s culture, there’s a lot of pressure on girls in terms of how they look and how their body looks, and as parents, we are often very concerned about all this pressure and what it’s doing to our child. I don’t want them sexualized, understandably, at a young age. However, I believe a child may ask to wear makeup for other reasons. We think it’s sexualized because that’s where we’re at, but it’s not necessarily where they’re at. For them, it could mean something very different. For them, makeup is fun and way for them to explore their world and be creative.
So, long story short, we allow our girls to wear makeup. They wear it at home when dressing up or just expressing themselves. For now, they don’t even really ask to wear it outside of the house other than dance performances. With most things in our parenting journey, we are also keenly aware that this is where we are today in regards to makeup.
What are your thoughts on children wearing makeup?