If you have taken a stroll through any middle school lately it is easy to notice that restrictions on make up aren’t what they used to be. When most of us mothers were kids, makeup was taboo until at least high school and we carried it deep down in the zippered pockets of our book bags so we could slip on a little lip-gloss when we got to school. After all, all the cool kids were wearing it and being cool was definitely important. Today, the cool kids haven’t changed a bit; you know the ones that seem to have infinite sleep-overs, expensive clothes and who are allowed to wear all sorts of deep, dark and glossy makeup to school every day of the year. Thank goodness for those cool kids that make life easy for the rest of us. Raising boys must be a breeze; but you are raising girls here.
Obviously age is a consideration to letting your daughter wear makeup. If she is in 2nd or 3rd grade and wants to wear makeup to school, you can bet that there is a girl in her class who does. But limits are necessary. Simply explaining that she is too young to do so is enough to say and this is a perfect opportunity for you to discuss natural beauty and where real beauty comes from with your little girl. Chances are the kid in her class wearing makeup has a big sister at home and she is just emulating her behavior. However, around the 5th or 6th grade and throughout middle school, saying no is just not enough. Why? Read on.
When girls hit 10 or 11 years old they become awkward. They move funny, many gain weight in all the wrong places, their hair gets greasy they don’t fit in girl’s clothes and junior sizes make them look ridiculous. Boobs are sprouting, hormones are raging and they are constantly hungry, whiney and hormonal. They also are under immense pressure from peers and notice all the ‘cute’ and perfect girls their age daunting Nickelodeon. This is the age where self esteem can be made or broken irreparably. If a light and rosy lip-gloss, a few spurts of hair spray and some mascara on the top lashes make them feel good about themselves; then what’s the harm in letting your daughter wear makeup? Consider that there is a pretty good chance they are going to do it anyways. If you don’t believe that, camp out in a middle school bathroom before school one morning and listen to and watch what goes in there. Just don’t let yourself be seen.
The best way to make the whole makeup situation a non-issue is to treat it as one. If your daughter strays into your makeup bag and puts on a little mascara, pretend to barely notice. If you freak out as if she just colored her hair purple (which may be coming one day) you are turning makeup into an issue and are succinctly cutting off any chance at dialogue about self esteem and beauty. The other thing to consider is that you are probably one of the triggers in your daughter’s life that makes them feel like makeup is essential. Admit it! How many times have you said ‘I can’t go here or there without makeup on’ or ‘I need my makeup I feel naked!’ If you are plastering on the war paint yourself your little girl is simply admiring you and your techniques.
Another point to consider when it comes to letting your daughter wear make up is this. If mom (or dad) freaks out and just says NO, demanding compliance and not listening to their reasoning or feelings about the issue, you are ripping away any shred of control and judgment of her own your daughter has. By giving in a little compromising that blush and mascara are fine but eye shadow is off limits, your daughter will feel as if they got their way and probably won’t push for the other stuff. They will also feel that you respect their decisions on the matter and will better respect your boundaries. If your daughter is just too young, then one good idea is to paint them up like a clown at home and let them look at themselves in the mirror. They will immediately realize they are much prettier without makeup.
Walk through the toy aisle at any local store. You will find that small makeup sets are sold that target preschool and elementary school kids. Make up is just part of being a girl for some girls. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the conversation of letting your daughter wear makeup is upon you. The important thing as a mother is to realize that you are raising little women and that what you say and what you do, especially as it pertains to body image and self confidence will last with them a lifetime. So many moms just get frustrated and say no before thinking about and remembering what it felt like to be a young girl in school. The fear of your daughter growing up shouldn’t be a basis for decisions like makeup. Sometimes a girl will ask about makeup when the reality is that they are just too young. Elementary school is not the time for makeup and highlighted hair. But as your daughter gets older and moves to middle school they will be grouped with bunches of girls that are 14-15 years of age who are undoubtedly wearing makeup to school. If the discussion seems to pop up too soon, then mandate an age and make darn sure that they get some decent makeup on that particular birthday.
It is also wise to save all of those mom sayings like; you are too pretty for makeup, you are prettier without it, you don’t need makeup to shine, and you don’t want people to like you because you wear makeup- to yourself. Your daughter is at an age where she knows that YOU think she is beautiful but YOUR opinion is worthless. She also knows that you will say these things whether she has a unibrow or acne but other people wont be as kind. If you’ show her how to apply makeup, allow her to wear just enough to make her feel ‘normal’ and listen to her enough to really feel what the whole thing is really about you can raise a woman who is self confident and who realizes that beauty is much more than skin deep. If you ignore the requests or are too strict about letting your daughter wear makeup when the age is appropriate you risk showing up at school one day seeing your daughter wearing badly misplaced stripper red lipstick and caked black mascara. Don’t believe it? Go and take that visit to a middle school girl’s bathroom and see for yourself.