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Makeup: Do I Consider it Childs Play?

Will I Let My Daughter Wear Makeup?

I apply makeup in one of two places: in front of the living room mirror, balancing precariously in the small gap between coffee table and hearth or, the passenger seat of the car. (Don’t ask me why I don’t get up early to do it- the answer is obvious!)

Either way? It’s always in front of my children.

Just lately my daughter (aged 2) has been showing a keen interest in my makeup, imitating my application and trying to wear it herself! At first, this gave me a punch in the stomach: What kind of a mother am I? What kind of a feminist am I? What sort of an example am I setting? You often see celebrities being slated for allowing their daughters to wear makeup and this got me thinking, would I let my daughter wear makeup?

makeup parenting feminism children debate


The short answer is: YES!

Obviously, there will come a time where this is beyond my control and I am a firm believer that, where teenagers are concerned, if it is safe, legal and everyone else is doing it, saying no is futile. They will just do it behind your back and thats a downward spiral. It’s all about the compromise. So, here I am talking about children & “Tweens”.

(NB: Personally, I don’t think kids need worry about foundations and the like. Kids makeup is all about sparkles, so a bit of eyeshadow, lip-gloss and nail polishes are the kind of thing I’m talking about here)

And here’s why:


Children, of all ages, want to imitate their parents. We find it perfectly acceptable for young boys to show an interest in cars/busses/trains/ANYTHING WITH WHEELS and to bond with daddy over them. Cars, they are an adult toy. They are dangerous, they can kill people, they give some people, who have no right having it: Power. Some kids even get behind the wheel whilst parents aren’t watching! Yet we shame mothers whose little girl sports some lippy? There is no test required for makeup and you don’t hear of people being mowed down by mascara. Still, people would prefer it to see little girls pretending to vacuum, assuming their gender role rather than imitating their role model! Vacuuming is almost always for someone else’s benefit , makeup should only ever be for yourself!

Career Goals

If my boys showed an interest in rugby/football/tennis/ ANYTHING WITH BALLS people would encourage that. They’ll likely say things such as, “He could be the next Wilkinson/ Beckham/ Federer.” My daughter shows an interest in makeup and they’d shame her. And ME!

Don’t believe me?

Growing up, I always had an interest in makeup, I wanted to be a “beautician” (BEAUTY THERAPIST!) but I was often told things like: Thats what stupid girls do, there’s no money in that, surely you can think of something better? Consequently, I enrolled in every “OLOGY” subject I could get my hands on and dropped out three months in! Go figure.

Yes, becoming top of the beauty market and making the big bucks is hard, but so is becoming the next Beckham. So why is it okay to put these expectations/ ambitions onto our boys but not onto our girls? Is it Okay at all? I think, we put too much EXPECTATION onto our boys and not enough AMBITION onto our girls! We only have to look at the fact that three quarters of UK suicides are male to see that somewhere, there is too much pressure on boys. Or the fact that last year less than 10% of the UK’s CEO’s were women, to see that females aren’t climbing as high as the could/should be. (NB: There are plenty of other reasons for this/ fights to be had and issues to be raised in all areas of both the examples given- too many to go into now!) 

My point is, that rather than disheartening girls with tales of woe in their chosen career, we should be building them up to be one of the less-than-10% of women in said career. Who knows, then we may even break through that barrier into a more even playing field? Maybe then, the alleviation of some pressure off men might reduce the suicide statistics too?

And you know what? Not everyone wants to be a Beckham or a CEO – we need to teach our kids that their happiness is important too!

Skill Building

Boys as young as 4 are shoved onto a football pitch each Saturday morning, without a second thought, in order to build their skills. Yet allowing girls, to practise painting their nails or play with eyeshadow is considered sacrilege? Have you seen the makeup skills of some of the Tweens on Youtube!?


Clearly, one of the big issues raised time and time again is sexualising our children. To me, this is victim blaming. Children should NOT be seen as sexual beings. Clothing/ makeup/ hairstyle is NOT an excuse. The issue here is the people who are seeing children sexually, not the child’s appearance. Obviously, there are some hideously bad items, with adult content, marketed at children- I am in no way advocating this. I just don’t think makeup is one of those things.

Gender Roles

As far as I am concerned gender norms can piss off. My boys play with dolls and my daughter plays with cars. If my sons want to take up Ballet and my daughter wants to play football, I’d let them. And do you know what? If my sons wanted to wear makeup? I’d let them do that too! It is my job, as a parent, to educate my children that beauty is not the be all and end all. I don’t wear makeup every day, my kids DO see me and I do, on occasion, leave the house makeup-less. My own mother won’t put her bins out without her face on- I want my children to be more confident than that. I want them to know that yes, they can wear makeup but it is not necessary. I want them to CHOOSE whether or not to wear makeup, not feel obligated either way because of their gender.

raise boys and girls the same way

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So, No I won’t be encouraging my kids to join me in front of the fireplace each morning, in fact quite the opposite. I’m hoping with the freedom to choose and the knowledge that they’re naturally beautiful inside and out, they’ll say “Hurry up Mum, we’ve got dens to build!” And you know what? I might even put the brushes down.

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  1. ruth cartwright

    You are so right about gender norms. I’ve sent my son to nursery with his nails painted pink before. He also has his room pink, this makes him no less of a boy. #Blogstravaganza
    ruth cartwright recently posted…Eco Friendly nappies reviewMy Profile

    1. keep-mum (Post author)

      This is very true, it doesn’t. Anything that makes him happy!
      keep-mum recently posted…Makeup: Do I Consider it Childs Play?My Profile

  2. Aleena

    Both of my kids (one girl, one boy) like to play with my make up, and I have a little basket of old makeup that I allow them to use. At the moment they just think it is a fun game, but for my daughter I think it is inevitable that one day she will want to wear makeup properly. With that in mind, I would like to be a positive role model for her if she chooses to wear makeup by helping her to learn how to apply it properly, and help her to find a happy balance between nothing and waaaaaay too much! Couldn’t agree with you more on this one. #Blogstravaganza

  3. keep-mum (Post author)

    To young children its just dressing up, the same as playing with prams, toy phones. briefcases or dressing up! I think its great you let them have a go! Although, maybe hide the red lippy- that stuff STAINS!! haha!
    I totally agree, swaying them in the direction of just enough or less is more can only be a good thing! Practical advice! But of course, they’ll know better!! xx
    keep-mum recently posted…Identity Crisis- All The Cool Mums Are Having Them!My Profile

  4. The Tale of Mummyhood

    My girls have shown interest in my make up too, it wasn’t ever something I saw as a child so I don’t mind at all. They won’t be going out with their faces painted any time soon, but they find it fun! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    1. keep-mum (Post author)

      I think letting them experiment with it will make them see it of less of an excitement, as with anything, they’re not as fussed if they think you let them!

  5. Kirsty - Winnettes

    Oh my life I 100% agree with this! My two daughters show a keen interest in make up because they want to be like me. I am not about to give up my make up to set them some example I don’t believe in. I don’t let them wear make up as they are only 4 and 2 but I have a lip balm I keep with me that I let them use when we are out and about. I was told make up and hairdressing was for stupid girls and I was too smart for that. In some ways I see what people meant as I think my brain would get bored doing that sort of thing for a job but I doubt some of the make up artists in Hollywood would consider themselves stupid! If someone had told me I could work hard and do the costume make up for films I would have totally done it! It is all about angles and ambition. You could be a personal trainer in the local gym or you could work hard and travel the world with it. Great post!!

    1. keep-mum (Post author)

      No I agree, it would be hypocritical for me personally to tell them they couldn’t touch the stuff when I use it and I don’t want to give it up!I let my daughter use my vaseline at the mo, she’s happy with that and I brush her face with my blusher burns when she asks, she has no idea that it has nothing on it !! I know what you mean, theres nothing wrong with people questioning if they don’t think it will truly make you happy likewise there no point being stuck in a job that makes them happy and you miserable! Exactly, its all about ambition!

  6. Amy

    my daughter is 8 and I let her wear makeup for parties and dinner out etc, not as an everyday thing. When she does wear it I usually help her (otherwise she looks a bit like a clown hehe) and I prefer if you she uses my make up rather than “kids stuff”, as I know it is a decent make and natural. Nanny lets her wear her foundation and mascara, which I hate, I need to have a word with Nanny about it really. #kcacols

    1. keep-mum (Post author)

      Oh yes, I don’t think children need to be wearing it every day, special occasions and to play etc.
      That is a very valid point, I think its important to know what we are putting onto (letting them put onto) their skin.
      Yes I think foundation is probably a bit heavy, they have such beautiful skin don’t they! I only wore tinted moisturiser until I was 18, then my skin started going downhill with having babies and being exhausted so I switched to the heavy coverage stuff!!!

  7. Tubbs

    The Tubblet isn’t interested in makeup at all – while I love the stuff! She is however, interested in football, drawing etc and we’re totally good with that. It’s great that she’s her own person and knows her own mind 🙂

  8. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine

    I agree with what you’re saying, especially about the gender norms! My girls are curious about me putting make up on but so far haven’t really been too fussed about wearing it themselves. #BigPinkLink
    Cheryl @ Tea or Wine recently posted…Book Review – From January to May 2017My Profile

  9. Sadie

    Great post, and I think you make good points not only for letting children have freedom around makeup but also for your common old feminist too. I strongly identify as a feminist, and I hate to see arguments which insinuate that I am less of one just because I wear makeup.

  10. Karen, the next best thing to mummy

    I totally agree with everything you have said children will always want to copy their parents, as long as this is monitored where’s the problem #mudpiefridays@_karendennis1@btinternet_karendennis

  11. mummy here and there

    Clapping along and agree, let kids be kids regardless of what sex they are! X #twinklytuesday

  12. This Mum's Life

    You’ve definitely raised some valid points, and I totally agree with what you’re saying! I used to love watching my mum do her makeup (like yours, she will not even consider dropping a foot outside the door unless she is fully made up!) and she’d give me tips and hints while I was watching. It hasn’t made me obsessive with my makeup-I usually wear a bit of nude eyeshadow and mascara every day, and sometimes nothing at all, so nobody can say she influenced me to think that I’m not worthy unless I leave the house fully made up! I have boys, who have never shown an interest in my makeup, but if they do, I’ll explain it to them as I would if I had a daughter. And I don’t believe it sexualises girls-like you say, it’s how adults choose to see them when they’re wearing makeup-which is not how the girls are seeing it!
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink!

  13. Sabrina @ The Mummy Stylist

    I’ve never thought about it before, I always put my makeup on infront of my kids. I like how pro you are about it, very refreshing! x

  14. Becky - MommyandRory

    I love the mention of hoovering for girls. I bought Rory a Hoover at the weekend because he kept chasing me round whilst I was cleaning. He hasn’t put the bloody thing down since! Great post! #postsfromtheheart
    Becky – MommyandRory recently posted…Walt Disney World Florida: All Expenses PaidMy Profile

  15. Petite Words

    I think to play in the house, doing makeup on each other for fun it nice. But I would never let my daughter wear makeup outside before she was like 12! simply because it DOES make people look older, when they’re young, it can make an 11 year old look 16! And that’s never a good idea. Good post for debating! #blogcrush

  16. My Petit Canard

    I love this! I’d never quite thought about make up in this way before, but you make some very good points! My daughter is three and she has also started to ask if she can have some lipstick on like mummy which has made me seriously worry about how often she sees me putting make up on and whether thats ok. But after reading your post I’m starting to see it all in a different light. Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

  17. Becci - The UnNatural Mother

    We all wanted to grow up and play make -up even the boys. Kids just want to be us so you cant plame them for using your best |YSL lipstick whenever they need to 🙂 #PostsFromTheHeart

  18. Kiki

    Great post! I also wear makeup and apply it infront of my daughter. There’s a lot to consider and as you said, why should we make our daughter’s feel guilty for showing an interest in makeup? I will also be giving her the choice when she’s older. Its too hypocritical not to! #ThatFridayLinky

  19. Crummy Mummy

    An interesting post – my 5 year old loves make-up – both mine & her own kids’ stuff. I don’t see anything wrong in it #postsfromtheheart
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…5 bad things about living by the sea!My Profile

  20. Random Musings

    I agree – its harmless and all girls will eventually experiment with make-up anyway. I think as they get older and start wearing make-up, you can always tell the kids that have never been allowed to play with it when they were younger; they are the ones who are bright orange with a tidemark on their jawline and clots in their mascara!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Random Musings recently posted…Anything Goes Linky Week 95My Profile

  21. Lucy At Home

    LOVE this post! You’ve packed so much into it and I wanted to punch the air in agreement after each paragraph! Haha. I stopped wearing makeup when I had children because it just slipped down the priority list, and was makeup-less for about 5 years. Then last year, i started wearing it again. Not because I felt insecure without it, but because those 10 minutes in the morning are a little gift to myself; a little bit of glamour and pampering before the school run ensues! I often have no-makeup saturdays because, like you, I don’t want my girls to think that they MUST wear it to be presentable. My girls (6 & 2) often ask to have some one while I’m applying mine (same with my perfume or deodorant) and I just dab a tiny bit of lipstick or eyeshadow on them, and that satisfies them. I hope that I’ve found a good balance because I hate the thought of them believing that their looks are the only thing that makes them valuable or that they have to be beautiful to be accepted. But I think it’s about an overall lifestyle and life-lessons rather than just pointing the finger at makeup. We encourage our girls in lots of other aspects of life too and demonstrate that looks are not the be-all-and-end-all. Sorry for the rambly comment! #blogcrush
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Blogcrush Week 14 – 19th May 2017My Profile

  22. Kimberley | Oh Just My Little Blog

    Playing around with make up is a great early memory too! I don’t see any harm in it as long as young girls don’t feel like they NEED to wear make up x
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.
    Kimberley | Oh Just My Little Blog recently posted…Things I was Grateful for in AprilMy Profile

  23. Emily

    I wrote a similar post. I let my girls play with makeup, but they know they’re not allowed to use certain items such as mascara, eye liner etc. They can use my skin colour eye shadow, some blusher and a clear chap stick! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  24. Bread

    If my son wants to wear makeup then that’s up to him but we don’t really where it in this house. #kcacols

  25. Stewart Harding

    Great blog my friend 🙂

  26. Nige

    Gender stereotyping should be fought with all our hearts Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  27. Pingback: Blogcrush Week 15 - 26th May 2017 — Lucy At Home

  28. Heather Keet

    I love this post – every girl in the history of life has tried to emulate her mother and older girls. Makeup doesn’t have to be bad, my friends 5 year old watches YouTube makeup videos and plays around as she does it. But she’s in STEM classes and is the first to say that girls can wear makeup AND be smart. #BlogCrush

  29. pam lorimer

    This post is tremendous! Couldnt agree more. I love my make up but definitely wear it for myself. I can send hours doing it and hubby says he doesnt care and cant notice(this is why i love him) my son watches me put it on and is intriegued my daughter immitates me already! I dont know why its been made shameful. #BlogCrush

  30. Tracey Bowden

    I love this post. My daughter always has loved to wear makeup. And I have allowed her to experiment and play with it. She is 11 now and sees me with or without makeup on frequently. I absolutely agree about the point about girls being shamed when wearing makeup and I really don’t get why either #blogcrush
    Tracey Bowden recently posted…Redecorating the Front Room? Get the Best Price with these TipsMy Profile

  31. kristin mccarthy

    Id rather have them playing with makeup than drawing on their faces with marker- another really fun toddler game for the twins.


  32. Lisa Pomerantz

    Play is play, and healthy, and happens for such a short time in our lives. Let them Play! Go momma! No shaming here, and no gender nonsense either.

  33. oldhouseintheshires

    Let them wear make-up, yes! In the light of this weeks terrible events in Manchester, a little make up can do no harm. #Blogcrush

  34. Mama Grace

    Some great points. I have some friends who are make up artists and have great jobs. Some have gone into the gore and special effects and some beauty. All careers should be enjoyed and everything you do should be. As a parent you’ll have to monitor everything. #BlogCrush

  35. MomOfTwoLittleGirls

    Great post. I have two girls. They are chalk and cheese. One is sporty and tough, the other loves dolls and make-up. So? I am raising them exactly the same. I try to encourage them to embrace what they love, and be open to new suggestions. Children are so impressionable. It’s not right to put them in boxes.

  36. Vivienne

    Kids should be taught how to think, not what to think. When we do this then their world will be a better place full of confident little humans. #blogcrush

  37. Mackenzie Glanville

    I actually recently had a conversation similar to this with another blogger, she was saying she doesn’t wear make up yet her little girl loves it. I mentioned that i pretty much wear makeup everyday and I thought my daughters would be obsessed, but even my 13 year old doesn’t want to wear makeup. Most of her friends are now putting on lip gloss and eye shadow for parties, but even when I offered if she’d like some on she said no I don’t need it. It surprises me. I am sure they will wear it oneway, maybe, who knows, I am happy either way. #blogcrush

  38. Wendy

    I only recently have started wearing make up every day, up until now I could never be bothered except for special occasions. My boys have shown zero interest in it so far but if they wanted to wear it or play with it then I wouldn’t have a problem at all xx #BlogCrush

  39. Kimberly - Media Mummy

    Gah I find this a tricky one – my little niece is all into nails and lip gloss (she’s 3). I’m not a fan – more because of them wanting to look older and the pouting and vanity… but you make some really good points. Especially your points on the gender norms which I feel really strongly about too! Great thought provoking post x #BlogCrush


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