I came home one day last week to a slightly made-up version of my 10-year old daughter: a little eye shadow, some mascara and lip gloss. Mom had prepared me that Vic was asking to “practice” with some cosmetics and had been provided with her own sampling of some Grandmama-approved colors. Mom knew that I would have no problem with the quality of the cosmetics because we both buy our beauty products from the same place. (That would be from Lisa at Style Essentials, for those of you who might be curious. We love her!) I asked Mom over the phone if Vic’s friends were wearing makeup already. She replied, “Apparently, there’s been talk of it.”
I admit I get a tad squeamish when I see little girls with their faces made up. I try not to go all judgemeister on the moms; I know we all pick our battles. But two things instantly blaze through my mind when I see pre-teens wearing makeup reminiscent of 80’s glam rock: 1) what ungodly chemicals are seeping into that baby’s face? And 2) what message are we giving our daughters? Do we really have to wear makeup to be “pretty?” Is “being pretty” all that it’s cracked up to be? Is it the be-all/end-all of womanhood?
While I want my daughter to answer “NO!” to each of those questions, I admit that I rarely (if ever) leave the house without at least a hint of powder and mascara. I don’t walk into a store wearing my pajamas and sporting bed-head; a little makeup, to me, is as important as getting dressed and combing my hair. At some point, the line is crossed from showing respect for ourselves to drawing attention to ourselves. I’d like for my child to keep it all in perspective.
I hope to teach my daughter that beauty is on the inside. It’s what you see with the heart, not with the eyes. Beauty is who you are when you think no one is looking. Women will always be their own worst critics; I know I am. Ultimately, who my daughter is on the inside is far more important to me than how she looks on the outside. As she matures, nothing would please me more than for her to hold the same values.
But, I put all my worrying to the side for the moment and focus on the rules of makeup with her. I have a few. (You knew I would.)
Makeup Rule #1: Makeup should not look like makeup. If I can see it before I see you, it’s too much.
Makeup Rule #2: If you put it on your face, you must take it off before bedtime. Skin care is of utmost importance. No sleeping in makeup, no matter how natural the product is.
Makeup Rule #3: You do not share makeup with other people. Ever. (Ewww.) In fact, I hereby invoke my Mom Authority to limit the sharing of personal items to tee-shirts and shoes, even though the shoe thing is still against my better judgment.
Makeup Rule #4: I will approve and buy the makeup. There is no need for you to ever even entertain the notion of putting mainstream, chemical-laden cosmetics on your skin.
Makeup Rule #5: You will read the ingredient labels. You will become familiar with and knowledgeable about what you are putting on your skin. Then, at the very least, when you go off the rails in college and sport CoverGirl to your heart’s content, you can’t use ignorance as a defense. In other words, Mama’s not gonna raise no fool.
For now, Vic’s experience with cosmetics will be limited to learning how to use a few select things (pale shadow and lip gloss, cleansers and moisturizers). I began wearing makeup in middle school at age 12; my baby girl will be there next year at age 11. I’m not ready for her to be glammed out by next August, so we will navigate these waters slowly, carefully and together.
She is, after all, the reason I know all this stuff in the first place.