One of the most intimidating things about motherhood is preparing these tiny humans to grow up and be self sufficient functioning humans of society. As a product of the “no, because I said so” generation, I feel I was left to learn some lessons in less than desirable ways. We knew we couldn’t, but not why we shouldn’t. So when the time came that we could, we still weren’t really prepared for the consequences that came with such freedoms.
Recently, in a discussion among friends the topic of makeup came up. It seems both our daughters (age 6 & 7) have a fascination with makeup. And while I don’t love the stuff in my own life, I know that she will have to experiment on her own in order to decide if makeup will be part of her daily routine or not as she ages.
So here’s the discussion: we both have young girls, both girls are interested in makeup, we have both decided it’s okay for our daughters to play with makeup, both girls request on occasion to wear makeup outside of the house; do you let them? I know this will cause some volatile reactions in some of you and I get that, let kids be kids!! I am totally on that train, but I am also a huge believer that it’s my responsibility to teach her why being a kid is so important as well as why makeup can change that for her.
You see, in her head, makeup is fun.
It’s a silly toy that can make her lips change colors — she has no cognizant concepts of the predators out there that want little girls to grow up too fast. (Don’t get me wrong we have ALL the conversations on tricky adults, and bad people).
When we play makeup, it is just that — play. But it’s a great teaching opportunity. “Hey kid, do you know what makeup is for? When we put makeup on, we should still look like us. It just helps enhance how beautiful we already are. Watch, when we put on this eye shadow, what do you notice? Yes, it draws more attention to your gorgeous eyes! But you still look like you, right?” This is a conversation we have each time, because one conversation isn’t enough, ever. We have also talked about how sometimes make up IS used to change the way you look ie: Halloween, stage makeup, even drag queens.
Here’s the real kicker, now that we’ve played with makeup here and there, the inevitable question arises; “Mom, can I wear this to the store?” or “Mom, can I wear makeup to school?” I use this to tell her, it all depends because I watch how she presents herself each time we play with makeup. And if she can still be six, even with her minimal makeup, I’ll consider it. But I always reserve the right to say no (I am the parent after all). Because no matter what it is, shoes, clothes, makeup; it’s important I teach my child she is a child first and foremost, to enjoy that childhood, and to protect her from those that just don’t care. I get to teach her important things about how she presents herself to people; how it’s less important about what she wears or doesn’t wear if she doesn’t respect herself first. Being able to love and respect herself for who she is will translate in how she presents herself to others. This practice will also help dictate what she will put up with from other people.