When I was younger, I had trouble understanding the concept behind the charm of makeup. Everything was all right up until elementary school, where every girl’s face was their face and that was just that. When I got into middle school, however, I noted with concern that some girls were showing up to school looking like raccoons, with thick black circles sketched around their eyes.
Of course, I knew what makeup was but I couldn’t really understand why anyone would want to hide their face behind layers of goop. Today, I happily belt out to tunes while I dab primer on my face and carefully use a beauty blender to evenly spread foundation. As much as I now appreciate makeup, though, I have a feeling that besides a light layer of lip gloss, my daughter is not going anywhere near cosmetics until she hits high school.
First off, let’s not pretend that the chemicals in all those products are amazing for our skin. Even if you go high-end, all-natural and buy into whatever other enticing slogans products now come tagged with, makeup is a responsibility and it requires upkeep. I can’t recall the number of days I’ve been tempted to sleep in my makeup but have dragged myself over to the sink to engage in my cleaning routine before bed.
I also think that it’s all right for parents to set some ground rules over how much makeup their girls can use and at what age. It’s a lot like teaching a child to ride a bike or teaching anything actually. Just like you wouldn’t hand a kid a two-wheeler immediately, it wouldn’t be very wise to allow a girl to go straight from wearing a completely natural look to completely transforming that look with makeup.
Setting a timeline would be wise — maybe start off with lip gloss, let girls work their ways to a mascara and light lipstick and by their mid-teens, let them experiment with foundations, concealers and other heavier products that bring on the whole makeup ‘look’. This is when I would provide support to girls, maybe by modeling how to use different products or going through some beginner makeup tutorials for young girls with them.
Growing up, my relatives and friends were all exasperated with my lack of interest in makeup; to them, I was an anomaly that couldn’t be deciphered because how could I resist the temptation to look beautiful? Honestly, though, for a long time that was what bothered me the most about using makeup — I was so afraid that it would change some part of my core, that I would be unrecognizable to myself.
One of my greatest fears was that once I gave in to wearing makeup, I could never look nice without it and that if anyone saw me sans makeup, they would be just as shocked as I was when I saw girls at my school appear without their makeup on some chance day and look as foreign as aliens.
Before I was ready to wear makeup, I had to battle with my self-esteem and self-confidence and be completely satisfied with who I was — at least to a point where I could welcome the flexibility change required and be comfortable with it, knowing that it wouldn’t change me irrevocably.
I want my daughter to learn those lessons too, to discover on her own first how beautiful she is in her own skin and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I want her to realize that makeup doesn’t mean you’re covering up your natural beauty, but that it’s a means of accentuating it. I want my girls to look and feel beautiful and empowered with and without makeup.