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?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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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